The Rise of the Fitness Selfie


You remember a few years back when a slew of companies were catching a ton of grief for publishing completely unrealistic, obviously photoshopped images of stick-thin models?  Backlash ensued, bloggers jumped on soap boxes, and the collective voice shouted this is not reality.  This is not what you should be comparing yourself to.  This is not what being “fit” really is.  All points well made, for sure.

But now let’s fast forward to the age of Instagram, Twitter, and the 47 other social media platforms we find ourselves plugged into.  While advertisers are still up to their same old tricks, the real problem isn’t coming from the likes of Calvin Klein and Victoria’s Secret anymore.  Nonetheless, the problem is just as real and potentially just as damaging.  This problem will literally alter your psyche, change the way you look at yourself, and leave you in a sorry state of self-pity.

And the problem I’m talking about?

…the rise of the fitness selfie.

The Fitness Selfie

It seems every day I lose another friend to the dark side.  My Facebook and Instagram feeds are slowly getting more and more filled with these “hey-everybody-look-at-me!” mirror shots.  Of course, it’s not just my circle of social media acquaintances that are doing this; a quick search on Instagram will reveal millions of fitness selfies.  In the gym.  At home. In dressing rooms. At the pool.  Literally anywhere a reflection can be obtained is fair game.  The flow of self-indulgence is unending.

And of course, it doesn’t stop there.  These same culprits have started sharing the social media spot light with every bit of food they stuff down their gullets.  It’s to the point that steamed broccoli and grilled chicken breasts have become more popular than Paris Hilton.  These food selfies usually include messages about how it’s soooo easy to live like this, or this is all you need to do to become fit and amazing.  Forget the fact the majority of their followers have lives nothing like theirs…they should still be eating the same way, damnit!

It’s almost as if these people are seeking a constant stamp of approval from everyone who’s checking them out.  Let me be the first to say, we get it.  You’re really good at exercising.  You also cook awesomely bland-looking food and have no problem eating it.  We should all strive to be as amazing as you are.  Thank you for showing us what being fit looks like everyday, but can you please stop now?

Whether intentional or not, the fitness selfie takers are placing themselves on a pedestal for your viewing enjoyment.  They’re creating an image that THIS is how you must live.  Often, you’ll find their self-absorbed photos accompanied by something along the lines of…

“I just did 45 minuter of HIIT, did 200 deadlifts, biked 4 miles, and did 30 minutes of abs – see how easy it is to be fit!?”

And of course, as impressionable as some of us are, we feel that if we’re not living up to their standards, there must something wrong with us.  We’re either lazy, unmotivated, or just plain suck at the whole fitness thing.  And that’s when whatever motivation we did have makes a bee line for the door.  Our progress crawls to a halt and we’re left in a state of despair – not exactly conducive to learning to live healthy and enjoying the journey of getting fit.

On the other hand, part of me gets it.  A lot of these fitness selfie takers are trying to build a social media following or motivate the following they do have.  But the problem is, they just don’t get it.  They’re out of touch with reality.  Continually showing your followers how amazing you are isn’t how you motivate someone.  It’s how you leave someone jaded and questioning their own self-worth. Let’s face the facts, genetics plays a huge role in our physical appearance, and no amount of HIIT, deadlifts, and sit-ups is going to change the fact some of us are going to have a little extra fat around our midsection.  If you think otherwise, you’re delusional.

I’ll make a concession; a progress photo, a competition photo, a simple shot of a recipe, an exercise demo, a fitness selfie once in a while if you absolutely must, is acceptable…but posting a picture of yourself holding up your shirt in front of the mirror to expose your picture perfect abs every. single. day. is a bit much, no?  Do you really think people want to see that, or are you just doing it for your own benefit?  Be honest with yourself.

Think I’m being a little over dramatic here?  Think the fitness selfie is all fun and games?  Check out this recent study by a group of University researchers who examined the effects of social media use on perceived body image and self-esteem.

Fight Back Against the Fitness Selfie

There are simply too many amazing fitness bloggers and Instagrammers out there who know there’s more to motivation than simply splashing a daily picture of themselves on their Instagram feed looking ridiculously narcissistic.  Seek them out and let them become your new motivators.  In particular, we’re huge fans of @Shauna_Harrison and others like her who actually possess the know-how and sense to rise above the superficiality of the perpetual fitness selfie.

As the people willingly subjecting ourselves to this assault on our mental well-being, its time we took a step back and got control of the situation.  De-friend.  Unfollow. Turn off.  If for nothing else than your own mental health.

This fitness journey you’re on is as much mental as it is physical.  You’ve got to start looking out for your own mental well-being and avoiding the urge to submit to the fitness  selfie.  Even if you think you aren’t affected by public displays of self-admiration, the perpetual state of perfection is taking a toll on your outlook.  Give it a try – I think you’ll be a little amazed at what happens.  As a big first step, go ahead and start following the good guys (and girls) out there and let the “look at me” whacko’s fade into internet oblivion.

So let’s hear from you guys – what do you think about the fitness selfie?  Are they becoming too much?  Are you ready to say enough with the whole “look at me” thing going on nowadays?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

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2 thoughts on “The Rise of the Fitness Selfie”

  1. Great article Matt. I couldn’t have said it any
    better. I am a huge proponent of healthy living; fitness is about progression,
    getting stronger and healthier but also having a well-balanced lifestyle. The
    fitness instagramers out there depict an idealistic life style. I am not demeaning
    their courageous workouts and bland food. But their inability to inspire others
    to live a normal healthy lifestyle where balance is key but also learning to
    love and live with what genetics has to offer.

  2. I have to admit instagram is what inspired me to want to be more healthy and fit. After having a baby, i found myself with little time to do anything, and at the same time, lots of “instagram time” during feedings. after searching instagram for new moms like me, i found many that were showing their journey of getting “their body back” after pregnancy. I found more and more women that had truly amazing transformations. What inspired me is the fact these are real people, that had life styles somewhat similar to mine, some of them even had body shapes similar to mine. Of course I agree with article though, and I think i just have been lucky in finding the good fitness people that were mentioned in the end of the article. But in following the right people on instagram, I ended up searching, finding, and landing on share it fitness.

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