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Warning: being a fit girl can be dangerous!

Social media highly influences the way we look at ourselves. Recently, there is a trend amongst women to gain the status of a ‘fit girl’.  This trend can have dangerous consequences as it can lead to anorexia athletica. Remy van der Voorn delves into the world of fit girls and researches the effect of this popular trend.

As I write this, it is turning noon. I am checking Instagram and almost every picture I see is related to a healthy lifestyle and being fit. Most of the people I follow are women. It is striking to see how often I see a picture of a young women in a coloury outfit, lifting weights. They are showing pictures of their six-packs, their muscled arms and their strong legs. Also their healthy smoothies and green meals are everywhere on my Instagram timeline. Nowadays, it seems like every women wants to be a ‘fit girl’. But when did “healthy” take a backseat to muscly? Why does every girl wants to show that she is eating healthy? And, most importantly, why are women so terrified of the notion of being anything other than strong and fit?

Being a fit girl is a popular  hype and it is getting the real deal. On Instagram you see these big fit communities growing and getting more prominentFit girls are women around the world, who share their experiences on clean eating and working out. Those workouts often consist of bench pressing and lifting dumbbells. Weightlifting is not associated with brawny men anymore, but with female gym goers. This new breed of female gym goers are making fitness fashionable. On social media you cannot overlook the hashtags of #fitinspiration and #healthy. However, this lifestyle can have very dangerous consequences as it can lead to anorexia athletica.

Anorexia athletica is a disorder characterized by excessive, obsessive exercise, also known as compulsive exercising. According to the annual report of the National Eating Disorder Association this disorder becomes more prominent amongst women. People suffering from anorexia athletica may engage in excessive exercising, as well as calorie restriction. Patients often follow a clean diet, which means a diet that consist of unprocessed foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. However, this puts these patients at risk for malnutrition and it could also result in endocrine and metabolic derangements, such as decreased bone density or delayed menarche. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, symptoms of anorexia athletica may include over-exercising, obsession with calories and clean eating. Surprisingly, this looks exactly like the lifestyle that the fit girls on Instagram promote.

Many girls follow fit girls on Instagram. I talked with Daphne in ‘t Veld (20) who clearly recognises herself in this trend: ‘I work out almost every day and eat no processed food, I follow a lot of fit girls on Instagram and consider myself one of them’. When I told her about the rise of fit girls, she answered as follows: ‘Yes I do recognise this in my direct environment as a lot of girls who at first never worked out and now are going to the gym daily’. Daphne confirmed that fitness is becoming more popular amongst women. But how are the fit girls make other women drastically change their lifestyle?

One  famous Instagram fit girl is Emily Skye. Her Instagram name is ‘emilyskyefit’ and she has over 1.2 million followers. She calls herself a health and fitness expert and daily posts a picture of her working out or one of the clean meals she is eating. With every picture comes an elaborate argumentation on why girls should choose this lifestyle. Next to one of her photos she posted: ‘Please ladies, don’t fear the squat rack or the dumbbells – make them your best friends and you’ll literally fall in love with what they can do for you. I’d love to see you get your flex on so tag me in your “bicep flex” pics and put the hashtags: #emilysky & #kissmybiceps’. Of course Emily also promotes clean eating as she says: ‘I am always fascinated by the power of natural foods. It just shows that mother nature usually knows best. I love it, it changed my life and I wish everyone could feel this way.’ These posts clearly indicate how supportive she is of this lifestyle and how much she stimulates other girls to adopt it.

Emily Skye is not the only famous fit girl on Instagram. Michelle_lewin, Amandabisk, Nathalieuhling and Mistyonpoint are also famous fit girls on Instagram. These four girls together already have over a 4 million Instagram followers and there are even more popular fit girls active on Instagram. Can you imagine how much influence all the fit girls on Instagram have together? Suddenly, it becomes clear to my why so many girls are influenced by this fit community. The pictures are so beautiful and the messages are so stimulating and convincing that you simply must believe them. However, they do not show metabolic derangements and other health problems you can get from it.

It’s unrealistic to think that our attitudes towards beauty, self-worth and weight will change overnight.  However, it is very important to keep in mind that there is a limit to being healthy and the consequences of exceeding that limit are very serious. Many young girls do not recognise these dangers and follow the inspiring fit girls blindly. They become obsessed with the ideal of being lean and clean and do not see any limits. This eventually will lead to anorexia athletica and its serious health problems. I found out that the happy girls in coloury outfits look so innocent but, their ‘healthy’ lifestyle can have not so healthy consequences.

remy_vandervoorn

My name is Remy van der Voorn, I am 20 years old. Currently I am studing International Communication and Media and Law at Erasmus University Rotterdam. I enjoy writing about the influence of social media and the influence of bloggers.

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One Response to Warning: being a fit girl can be dangerous!

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