Half my Instagram feed is gym selfies. The other half is porridge, zoats, or various other #fitchick concoctions.
Save for a Saturday, when it’s mostly filled with football grounds, such is the other side of my life.
Instagram has become a platform for fitness. It has given us a voice for our motivational quotes, a space to be different (because, to the average person, we are) and a place for half naked selfies.
But is it good for us?
Back when I first dipped my toe in this industry, I would be an obsessive nighttime scroller. I would look through the tags and explore the chiseled abs of the ‘gram; the people who I wanted to be.
And I think that’s the most dangerous thing about this whole culture: people want to be someone else.
We’ve all done it. And, unknowingly, most of us have probably posted a picture of us looking pretty great and had other girls scroll past and think ‘ugh, why can’t I look like that?’
That’s why it’s incredibly important that we now have new hashtags. New movements. Gone are #strongnotskinny. In its place are #girlgains, #strengthfeed.
And we are promoting balance too, not just hashtagging it. We’re actively showing people what balance is: we may go to the gym 5x per week, but we also go out for drinks, have rest days, are normal.
Of course, there’s a difference between preaching balance and actively showing it.
Instagram will never lose the half naked pictures captioned with something about pizza. It will never lose the ‘had a shit gym session today’ posts alongside a picture of a girl’s 8 pack. It happens. It is life. It is not only up to us to discern what is reality, and what is published purely for likes, but also for us to acknowledge this when we are posting our own images, with our own captions. Anyone who posts gym selfies, meal prep, anything surrounding fitness, is, in part, responsible for the actions a naïve young girl looking at that then takes as a result.
The good thing to note, is that we now have real girls who are really showcasing this.
We now have girls, real influencers, who are are challenging what used to be #fitspo. Lauren Tickner, who was recently picked up by the Daily Mail for her 12 pounds gained in a day selfie. Elle Darby, Grace Fit (yes I am aware this is not her actual name), Zanna Van Dijk, Tally Rye. All these girls, and more, who are telling you about balance and showing you how it’s possible.
Still, at the end of the day, people can post what they want on Instagram.
From the insta butt pose, to the ab shot, to the squat rack selfie, or the new Gymshark gear: we are allowed to do this. It doesn’t harm anyone, because we have our own freedom of choice.
But it’s down to us, the people posting these things, to give worth to our followers alongside these pictures. To show girls that this is only the highlight reel, but that this lifestyle is fun and achievable. To show girls that a big bum and a nice set of abs aren’t how you measure your worth, but that the hard work and dedication behind them are.