All over the world women and men are posting pictures and videos of themselves working out, or at the very least gym-ready. It has started a new hype, arguably a mostly positive hype to encourage people of all ages (but mostly young adults and teenagers) to get fit and amp up their lifestyle to suit the healthy-living fad that is currently engrossing the world. Great, right? These “fitness gurus” are showing off their amazing lifestyle that does not just stop at gym-inspiration. These people – mostly in their early-mid twenties – are globetrotting, showing off fancy meals with friends and significant others and shopping at all the most expensive brands.
So how do they do it? Always look perfect, always doing something exciting. The epitome of ‘goals.’ But the truth is that’s their job. They get paid to look like that, to have a certain amount of followers and to ‘inspire’ others to wear that brand, to drink that protein shake. Their mass audiences think they know these people, know what their house looks like, who their parents are, their favourite foods. But a lot of the time they are scripted, with a sponsor which tells them what to post, what time and how often. This creates a false persona, that this person probably does not use that protein shake every day or “love the way these workout pants look.” They get paid to live the life and promote certain places to travel – essentially making others feel bad that they do not have this amazing lifestyle.
In a lot of ways this is the future of reality television, audiences are less and less likely to sit down and watch a reality show when it is on tv. People like to be entertained on their own schedule yet still getting their reality fix from these fitness gurus. Dovey (2000) said that the appeal of reality narratives is the ‘nowness.’ Well you cannot get any more current than ‘liking’ someone’s Instagram picture that was posted less than a minute ago. The fact that these celebrities use a platform that literally anyone with a smartphone can use makes it that much more appealing as well, that it is potentially possible for anyone to achieve the following and status as these beautiful, rich peers.
Do they really look like that anyway? The truth is that even more effort goes into their photos than it does for the average person, if the average person tried ten times to get the best angle and lighting available at that moment, it will be double that for someone with a high ranking social media standing. And, it is understandable. Where most people have supportive friends and family following them on social media, these celebrities have that plus many strangers, therefore being more susceptible to be trolled or cyber bullied because of a slip-up on a picture where their skin is not perfect or they have a bit of a food baby and their tummy is not completely flat. A lot of these people have professional makeup artists on hand, a professional camera, proper lighting and sometimes even photoshop on their side. Some of these social media celebrities have had accusations that their photos had been photoshopped and have had to fight back to show that. Alternatively, there have been instagram celebrities that have shown that it is all about the set-up and lighting and that in real life they have rolls and stretch marks just like everyone else.
Ultimately it is, of course, a great idea to aspire to be the best person one can be. Fitness is a great thing and it is wonderful that it is a catching trend, reaching people that before it did not. But it is important to know this is not one-hundred per cent real life, and that they (like most other social media-ers) only show the positive things in their life. Of course they will not show the days they are feeling down, ill, or having hardships. In those instances, probably using an photo taken previously. We are all human and although unfortunately not all created equal we are not all perfect by any means and showing just that on their social media platforms can lead to inspiration or the followers feeling worse about themselves that they are not that fit or pretty.
Strive to be better but accept those imperfections.
Dovey, J., 1998. Freakshow: First person media and factual television. Pluto Press.
Koman, T., 2017. Instagram Fitness Star Proves How Misleading Instagram Can Be With 2 Pictures Taken Minutes Apart. Cosmopolitan, 18 January 2017, Available from: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a8610479/anna-victoria-instagram-body/ [Accessed 19 January 2017].