Comparison: we’ve all been there. We start following someone on social media who does the job we want, has the body we want or lives in the country we dream we would retire too. It all seems like harmless voyeurism at first – who doesn’t want to know what Beyonce does on a Monday!?
Unfortunately, many studies suggest that time spent on social media can cause body image dissatisfaction, low mood and disordered eating*. The studies found that these levels varied dependant on what the participant was viewing on social media, and whilst often posted with good intentions ‘fitspiration’ style images don’t come out well in the research. It appears that rather than seeing these images as inspiring, we use them as a self-comparison tool and it can affect how we view ourselves and how we treat our bodies.
Working in the fitness industry I find my Instagram feed is very fitness-focussed and I must be aware of the effect this can have. We have talked before on the podcast, and in this blog, about unfollowing any accounts that make you feel anything other than amazing but I also wanted to pull together a list of some accounts that may make you feel great instead.
I asked some of my favourite people, many of whom have been involved in The Pilates PT Method Online, for their recommendations of people they find inspiring or look up to. Here, along with mine, are their recommendations along with their Instagram handles. Remember that this is completely subjective and who one person finds inspiring might be different to another but I would love you to look through the list and see who stands out to you. Follow them on social media, research them, see how they make you feel. And hopefully we can start to readdress the balance on social media.
My recommendation: Megan Jayne Crabbe, aka Body Positive Panda (@bodyposipanda)
Megan is such an inspiration and has one of the biggest, most powerful messages out there. Megan spreads the word that ALL bodies are amazing and is working so hard to try to remove the diet-culture/thin-ideal/fat-shaming bullshit that is all over the media at present. She is doing incredible things for those who feel pushed out and marginalised from mainstream media and she is a great example of the true happiness that comes from accepting and loving your body.
Others to consider (because one choice is really hard):
Anna Kessels’ recommendation: Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn)
“It’s so hard to choose one inspiration but one of my faves is Jessamyn Stanley. She is totally tearing up the elitist “yoga bunny” script on what yoga is, she’s redefining what an active body looks like, and I love that she shares her tremendous joy and experience, as well as her setbacks and insecurities. It’s a bit like your recent post about not getting it right all the time. No-one does. So, let’s be more honest with each other about our continual learning.
Recently I shared images of Jessamyn to a group of girls at secondary school, and I saw how their eyes widened at her body doing those incredible poses. They were awestruck, and they were also confronted with the limitations they put on their own bodies. I like to think a little door flung wide open in their heads; I hope it stays confidently open ever more.”
Chloe Brotheridges’ recommendation: Michelle Obama (@michelleobama)
“Can I say Michelle Obama? Yes, she has incredible arms, but mostly I love how wise, smart and kind she is in a no-bullshit way. I like to ask myself what Michelle would do in challenging situations and take action accordingly.”
Sabrina Greenbergs’ recommendation: Melissa Weldon (@melissaweldon)
“I think I would like to put forward Melissa Weldon. For me, Melissa is everything I hope to become as a woman attempting to navigate the confusing and often scary path that modern society has laid out for women. Not only is she physically strong, she is outspoken, has a strong self of self and a well-tuned bullshit detector. She is a mother, a boss, a bringer of motivation and positivity without feeling inaccessible or un-relatable. Being in her presence makes you feel more powerful and like you can climb mountains – usually on a spin bike!”
The following suggestions were from our Instagram followers:
Thank you to everyone who put forward their ideas. If you have any of your own recommendations I would LOVE to hear them so please do leave me a comment below with yours or drop me an email and I will keep adding to this list.
Good luck and enjoy the feel-good vibes!
P.s: oh, and Google Trischa Zorn, seriously!
* Helga Dittmar, Sarah Howard (2004). Thin-Ideal Internalization and Social Comparison Tendency as Moderators of Media Models’ Impact on Women’s Body-Focused Anxiety. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology: Vol. 23, No. 6, pp. 768-791.
Marika Tiggemann, Mia Zaccardo, “Exercise to be fit, not skinny”: The effect of fitspiration imagery on women’s body image, In Body Image, Volume 15, 2015, Pages 61-67,
Jasmine Fardouly, Phillippa C. Diedrichs, Lenny R. Vartanian, Emma Halliwell, Social comparisons on social media: The impact of Facebook on young women’s body image concerns and mood, In Body Image, Volume 13, 2015, Pages 38-45