Before I start, I want to state that I’m not against ‘fitspo’ or reading tips or diet advice from other people. I love scrolling through my news feeds, seeing pictures of fit, happy and healthy women and being inspired by these pictures. I follow many fitness lovers and health-conscious people whose posts give me ideas, recipes, advice and more. And as much as I like to gain as much information from social media as possible, I’ve learned something over the past few years: you shouldn’t trust diet advice from that hot girl on Instagram.
I, too, am guilty of following people because they look incredible, fit and healthy. I have nothing against seeing these kinds of photos. What I do have a problem with, however, is when beautiful, healthy-looking, slim and toned women give nutritional, health and diet advice based on no qualifications or scientific evidence at all.
I have a problem with the fact that at any given moment there are tends of thousands of impressionable people reading posts about diet teas, waist trainers, fat burning pills, no-carb diets, high-cardio exercise regimes and other potentially dangerous practises that are promoted on social media. And these impressionable people decide to adopt these practices because the person promoting them is attractive or has a great body without giving much thought to what they are doing to their body because, hey, the hot girl on Instagram has used these practices and look at her, her body is amazing!
People tend to forget that social media is an illusion and an accomplice to exclusion.
On social media you can create any kind of illusion; photo-shop, filters, good lighting, fake tan, and more of those kinds of things can completely change an image and completely change your image. You can do anything you want; you can pretend your life is perfect, you can pretend you just ate a giant salad and you can pretend that you are up and at the gym at 4 am every morning, if you want to.
Social media is also an accomplice to exclusion. You can hide things that won’t be beneficial to you if you share them. You can exclude the fact that you’ve had surgery to change your body, that you’ve used drugs to achieve your physique, that you were paid $1,000 to promote that teatox or that you don’t really exercise that much, you simply won (and are capitalising on) the genetic lottery.
Social media is unregulated and social media health-influencers face no consequences for the fitness and diet advice they give. There is no “social media police” ensuring that people who give out health and diet advice have the expertise, knowledge and/or qualifications to do so. On social media, everyone and anyone can be a nutritionist or a personal trainer.
People need to stop trusting the hot girls on Instagram for fitness and diet advice. If they are qualified and knowledgeable, then by all means I hope they spread the message of health and fitness. But trusting an unqualified, unknowledgeable person with something as important as your health and wellbeing just because they are attractive can have dire consequences.
As my research for this article, I scrolled through some Instagram profiles of women with hundreds of thousands of followers. I saw many things that worried me:
The promotion of waist trainers to help give you an hourglass figure (with a personal discount code so they can get their kickback). I blame the Kardashians for the waist-trainer.
Girls with ‘enhanced’ butts giving out advice about what kind of squats to do to achieve the same look (light weight jump squats will not give you a peachy butt). The form on the advice was questionable and could actually lead to injury.
Diet and slimming teas promoted at least once per week. The physique of these ladies was credited to the diet teas – something which I could bet all my money on is a lie.
A photo of a meal in which the caption explained why only green vegetables were present – because carrots and tomatoes contain too much sugar. The same person had previously stated they don’t eat fruit because of the sugar content.
Dozens of videos of circuit training routines, which the lady stated helped her achieve her body. (I don’t know of anyone who has managed to build lots of muscle mass using only high-intensity plyometric bodyweight exercises)
These ladies all had hundreds of thousands of followers; something I am willing to bet was thanks to their perfectly symmetrical faces and perfectly proportionate bodies. If someone like me gave out that information, no one would take much notice but these ladies were all being bombarded with words of “thanks” for the fitness and diet advice, questions clarifying the advice and people tagging their friends so that they, too, would see the advice.
The problem is that businesses within the fitness industry are cashing in on this “aesthetics over knowledge” trend too. There are supplement brands sponsoring “athletes” (I use that term loosely) based purely on how these “athletes” look and the following they have amassed from that. One certain supplement brand sponsors models, social media moguls, escorts and ex porn stars – and they have found themselves to be incredibly successful in marketing their products to the people who follow these kinds of people, despite the promoter having little to do with the health and fitness industry or, in actual fact, health and fitness itself.
I have nothing against people sharing their healthy lifestyles on social media. I become irritated when the sharing of a healthy lifestyle turns into the giving of unsolicited, unfounded and potentially dangerous diet advice. Most of which is being given because the “hot girl” is being paid to promote a certain product or brand; there is no proof they actually used the product because being contacted by the company, paid and sent the product.
Here’s my point: When it comes to your wellbeing, trust people who have the credentials, the knowledge and the expertise to be giving out diet advice. Don’t listen to a bikini model or hot girl on Instagram because you like the way she looks and want to look that way too; trust her if you know she has the knowledge to give you valuable, useful, truthful and honest diet advice. Always consult a professional before starting any diet or fitness program and allow yourself to be a little sceptical about the wellness and diet advice you are given on social media.
Looks can be bought but knowledge, real valuable knowledge, has to be acquired.
Ps. I know that I too have previously given out fitness and diet advice without a qualification. I have learned from that and have in the past few months limited my ‘advice’ to generic ideas, statements and as part of me sharing my everyday routine. I don’t promote anything that could potentially be harmful or abused by those who read what I write and post. I’ve seen the danger that uneducated fitness and diet advice can bring and the impact it can have on the people following those giving out unfounded advice – on physical health, mental wellbeing and just general happiness.