Most of the people I follow on Instagram can fit in to a few groups – friends, famous people, companies, huskies and fitness people.
The latter group is primarily there for two reasons. The first is that they usually post healthy recipe ideas. The second is that they’re motivation for me to be a bit healthier.
It’s interesting to compare that, though, to some research done by Dr Ian Stephen, Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University’s Department of Psychology in Australia. There’s a thing called visual adaptation where regular exposure to pictures of things (or else seeing the real thing) can lead you to believe that that is normal.
The study focussed on the fitness industry and found that pictures of people with really low percentage body fat caused people to think that they themselves were fatter than they were. Similar exposure to pictures of people with high musculature caused others to think that they themselves were puny.
There’s obvious downsides to this, such as body dysmorphia, other mental health issues and physical problems related to over-exercising and extreme dieting.
It all makes sense. We hear all the time about models being too thin or too “perfect” and that that can cause people to aspire to that image. However, in days where we also hear about growing obesity levels, at what stage does exposure to fit people become dangerous? Surely positive aspirations should be promoted.
The only thing I can think of is about managing expectations. A lot of the people on Instagram this year have started talking about confidence, and the idea that if you’re confident in yourself than anything you do to improve that is simply a bonus. However, I’ve heard of people with eating disorders claim that they’re happy.
I think it’s a fine line and I’m not sure exactly where it sits.
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Born This Way by Lady Gaga