The “ideal” body type for women has changed over the years drastically. It can seem as if the ideal standards of beauty must be historically universal, paradoxically the contrary is true! The perfect woman’s body goes from what we would now call morbidly obese, in the Paleolithic era, to a start over a serious obsession with body image and weight from the 20s on to the Supermodel era in the 80s, to the heroin chic and Twiggy look of the 90s. (Petty, 2018) Nowadays, we would like to think that there is no ideal for a quintessential body as the concept of body positivity is gaining more and more reasonable acceptance. Never the less, we can see a massive increase of people wanting to be and look healthy and athletic.
The fitness industry momentarily is booming. This sector has been growing 3 to 4% annually in the last 10 years and this business direction will not slow down anytime soon (Mitgley, 2018). According to Forbes (2018), the chances are high that the expansion will only accelerate in the upcoming years.
. This growth is cause by virtue of the idea of “a healthy body equals a happy life”, therefore more people work out and fitness is becoming trendy. Or perhaps to be more accurate, the idea of fitness is in: a rising amount of the western population is heading to the gym, or at least paying for a membership. This development puts the fitness industry in a pretty sweet spot: The western population, which is quite unhealthy and overweight, is looking for ways to get in shape. And to be more precise: to get in shape fast, as we as women would like to have an overnight pill, and an easy remedy for weight loss and toning up.
The hottest job in town
This idea of the perfect body is fueled up by diverse social media influencers on social media, principally Instagram. Let’s be completely honest: Being an influencer is probably the hottest and most coveted job in 2019, and simultaneously it is also a job that did not exist five years ago. So who are these people? At the core, an influencer can be your next-door neighbor, without a true stand out special talent, this makes the person you see online more “relatable”. As a subscriber, you can develop a deep connection with the influencer, as their life is more within reach. Therefore, fitness Influencers have become some of the most powerful across social media. Because “if the girl on Instagram can do it, why should not I be able to do it too?”
Fitness influencers as Tammy Hembrow, Kayla Itsiness, Anastasia Mironova, and the sisters Karena and Katrina, are transforming the way people look at fitness and at the same time become social media celebrities and earn money from their “influencer jobs”. How do they do that last part?, you might ask. Fitness programs and building a strong community. (Dibiase, 2018)
Instagram fitness programs are becoming increasingly popular as they claim to have a quick fix for our weight and looks problems: you can choose yourself, depending on the influencer if you want to transform your body in 30 days, 2 months or 12 weeks, they can plan it all out, and you can even choose how much attention you will get from that one social media celebrity you trust the most! Contingent upon how much you as the follower pay for your plan (varying from 10 euros per month to over 100 euros), the fitness program can be highly individualized or quite simple.
Why does it work?
The fitness programs are incredibly popular, due to the high following and therefore trustfulness of the influencers. Additionally, you can communicate with someone who in your eyes has a “celebrity status” and still responds to YOU!, a “normal person”. More over this way of getting fit is more affordable to people budgets, compared to hiring a personal trainer, and also is a smaller and easier step for people who are new to the fitness world and may be shy, to start working out. The influencers grow by the word of mouth and recommendations of their followers and fitness guide users. One of the biggest social media phenomena, Kayla Itsiness with her 12-week Bikini Body Guide, calls her followers the “Kayla Army”. This step is a psychological trick, which creates a sense of belonging with the subscribers of the Instagram channel. More over, since the establishment of stories, people who participate in the fitness programs or are very active on the influencers page, can receive shout outs as a reward. This participation reward system fuels up people’s enthusiasm, as they feel valued by their idol and flattered, and therefore try even harder to achieve the same feeling. Besides that, influencers use their follower community to improve their programs, as they ask for feedback and tips. An additional plus point of working together with enthusiastic and concerned people, is that they will supply the influencer with free advertisement and recommendation tool, by simply showing their results on their own personal page and in real life.
Some fitness influencers create competitions, where people who have attained the best results, by either losing the most weight or looking leaner and more athletic, are rewarded with prices that are announced beforehand. Therefore you, as a fitness program user, not only receive your dream body by participating, but also have the chance to win materialistic or monetary prices. This approach triggers people’s eagerness to be more engaged as well.
Can it backfire?
AN increasing amount of people are now concerned that the fitness gurus from Instagram are not qualified to design the food and workout programs and are therefore harming their follower’s health. (Praderio, 2018) Therefore the reputation of certain influencers can be harmed by unfavorable well-being incidents Moreover, the question remains: how long will Instagram be still a popular and highly used app? We have already seen the trend of Facebook fade away in the last few years.
Dibiase, L. (2018). The Evolution of Instagram & YouTube Fitness Influencers, Unamo Blog. Retrieved from https://unamo.com/blog/guest-posts/fitness-influencers
Midgley, B. (2018). The Six Reasons The Fitness Industry Is Booming. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/benmidgley/2018/09/26/the-six-reasons-the-fitness-industry-is-booming/#34a746e2506d
Petty, A. (2018). How women’s ‘perfect’ body changed through history. Retrieved from https://www.thelist.com/44261/womens-perfect-body-types-changed-throughout-history/?utm_campaign=clip
Praderio, C. (2018). THE DARK SIDE OF INSTAGRAM: When fitness culture goes wrong. Retrieved from https://www.thisisinsider.com/the-dark-side-of-instagram-fitness-culture-2017-6