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Title:Fitspiration’s perceived influence on body image and exercise behavior for young adults
Author(s):Chryst, Katryn
Advisor(s):Liechty, Toni
Contributor(s):Zou, Suiwen
Department / Program:Recreation, Sport and Tourism
Discipline:Recreation, Sport, and Tourism
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Body Image
Social Media
Abstract:Research has found that traditional media, such as magazines and television can influence body image concerns among both men and women (Fitzsimmons-Craft et al., 2014; Barlett et al., 2008; Grab, Ward & Hyde, 2008). However, social media may uniquely contribute to body image as it features the users themselves; users tend to post curated and edited idealized images of themselves and remove images deemed unattractive; and it allows instantaneous and interactive communication with peers (Fardouly & Vartanian, 2016). This study looked specifically at the influence the social media trend of Fitspiration (fit and inspiration) may have on body image and exercise behavior. Fitspiration content aims to encourage health and wellness activities (Boepple et al., 2016). However, Fitspiration can also promote a distorted and objectifying view of fitness, one that encourages the attainment of physical attractiveness over health (Deighton-Smith & Bell, 2017). There is a gap in the literature into how participants interpret their experience as influenced by Fitspiration. As there have been very few qualitative body image studies, this research used a phenomenological approach to illuminate the role that Fitspiration plays in the experiences of young men and women and their perceptions of body image and reasons to exercise. The sample consisted of six women and five men between the ages of 22 and 25 who self-identified as regular consumers of Fitspiration on Instagram. Findings suggest that there is a complexity in Fitspiration’s influence on behavior and beliefs that are nuanced. Fitspiration was perceived to perpetuate a fit ideal that increased tendencies of social comparisons resulting in either self-enhancing or self-deflating comparisons. Additionally, Fitspiration influenced exercise participation by motivating consumers to either maintain or increase their participation levels.
Issue Date:2020-05-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2020 Katryn Chryst
Date Available in IDEALS:2020-08-26
Date Deposited:2020-05

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