This research project aims to explore how women experience their bodies and gender in relation to the digitally mediated ‘fitspo’ phenomenon. ‘Fitspo’ typically refers to images, videos and motivational mantras that people post to social media with the purpose of inspiring themselves and others to live a ‘fit’ and ‘healthy’ life. On the highly visual social media platform, Instagram, ‘fitspo’ has been used as a hashtag over 50 million times. ‘Fitspo’ has also been taken up in activewear advertising, public literature, gyms and health food cafes. This research project aims to provide a better understanding of how ‘fitspo’ affects women’s experiences of their bodies and gender.
A sample of approximately 20 women aged 18-35+ who post fitness-related content on Instagram will be recruited to participate in this research. During the three-month period of data collection, participants' Instagram posts will be observed and they will be asked to partake in two interviews exploring how they experience their bodies and gender in relation to these posts. In so doing, this research project will generate new sociological understandings that can be used to inform educational efforts addressing issues concerning gender, body-image, fitness and wellbeing. Exploring how women experience their bodies and gender on social media will moreover provide an opportunity to think about the affordances of social media and move beyond conceptualisations of social media practices as exclusively ‘risky’ or ‘morally dangerous’.