Stop Looking At Fitspo


Are you working out for health?

I used to make myself vomit after eating. I didn’t care much about my teeth at that time, and quite frankly, I would’ve sacrificed so much in my endless pursuit for a thin bod. I was never formally diagnosed with bulimia, but my adrenaline rush after purging, and the regularity with which I purged were frightening. Fortunately, those days are behind me, and I only vomit involuntarily (yay me!).

I’m bringing this up on this very public forum because for the past six months I’ve noticed a trend online that takes me back to freshmen year hunched over a toilet: fitspo memes.


Fitspo is a cute little word for “fit inspiration.” Fitspo pictures are pictures of women who workout. Many of the pictures have quotes meant to inspire plastered across a woman’s abdominal muscles as she sweats profusely. Fitspo images make my skin crawl. They make my skin crawl because they remind me of the little folder of “thinspo” I kept on my parent’s desktop during my darkest days struggling with bulimia.


Thinspo is a cornerstone of the Ana (anorexia) and Mia (bulimia) community. These “inspirational” images show waif thin women with hips jutting out and protruding ribs. Most of them look terribly ill, and a great deal of them fat shame women with horrifying sayings like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I used to look at pictures of Nicole Richie in my thinspo folder and cry because I wanted to look like her. Now I find myself looking at pictures of women holding tiny dumbbells and I sort of want to do the same thing (cry, not vomit).

I workout for a minimum of six hours per week doing mixed martial arts. I run, I do high intensity interval training, swim, etc., etc. I feel comfortable–on my worst day–calling myself physically fit. But lately I’ve fallen into a bit of a trap, a trap that so many of my friends have also stumbled into: I want to look like those fitspo girls, and I’d stop at almost nothing to do it. Here’s where my critiques of fitspo start:

  1.  Women in fitspo often hold the tiniest weights imaginable. No one gets as ripped as these women lifting five-pound purple weights. It perpetuates stereotypes that strength is only acceptable for women when it is performed by certain feminine bodies.
  2.  The women are often wearing little-to-no clothing or LINGERIE. This isn’t slut or body shaming, it’s a critique of pictures meant to show you a lifestyle, but instead they simply display the female body in the same static and contorted poses of fashion magazines, but they throw in some workout equipment.
  3. A lot of the women pictured take their photos on, or near, competition days. That means that the women you are seeing live off of meager slices of tilapia and raw spinach for months at a time. It’s a ridiculously difficult process that takes more time than most of us can ever hope to dedicate to anything other than kids, school, work, volunteer jobs, and other daily tasks.
  4. I don’t want another unattainable standard out there for women, and that’s what I see when I browse fitspo (this is where the women in the pictures would say something to me about my self-control, desire, and work ethic).


Put away the fitspo that doesn’t include a delicious recipe or workout information, because staring at pictures of other bodies and wishing yours was different isn’t something we should reinforce.

Do you look at fitspo? Does it inspire you or make you feel bad about yourself?




  1. I had quit my Tumblr addiction after I realized that the amount of time I spent on there directly equated to the amount of time I spent hating my body. That place is awful for any kind of “fitspo” or “thinspo” stuff. (Or maybe I am just following all the wrong people!)

  2. Tumblr is pretty positive- find those positive ones! I just saw this and couldn’t help, but love it (fingers crossed for permalink.)

  3. I love it! On those days when I feel lazy, these inspire me to continue working out. Other than that, I still eat normal food, some junk food (ooops not :P) and make the most of what I’m blessed with.

    The girls look great but I’m happy even if I never develop those abs because the sweat washes away toxins so I don’t smell, the adrenalin rush provides more energy throughout the day and that gorgeous shower after a workout feels so darned good : )

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