The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

70° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Instagram fitness doesn’t benefit anyone

We’ve all seen them. Our thumbs scrolling lazily while we drearily wake up to a new batch of Instagram posts. Wait…whoa. This girl just posted a picture pretty much completely naked in a gym bathroom mirror! And here is a tattooed, flat-bill-wearing dude flexing on the haters! What a time to be alive.

We out here #grindin, and fitness-crazed Instagrammers can’t wait to show you.

If we step closer and analyze this Instagram post just a tad deeper, we come to the caption. Oh no.

A generic caption reads like this, “ANYTHING is possible when you work for it!”

So is that infinite possibility that I want to achieve actually just your bicep muscle?

I’m motivated to achieve my dreams by this post as much as Nickelback’s “If Everyone Cared” motivates me to devote my life to making sure nobody ever cries.

According to an Instagram hashtag search, there are almost a million uploads with the hashtag #motivationmonday on the site. As I browse the first page of results I see multiple mirror selfies focused on the subject’s body without even showing their face.

Man, I’m motivated.

The problem is the focus of these alleged motivational posts. While trying to shroud the true focus of an image in a cliche caption on the correlation of hard work and #success, it is difficult to argue that the main goal of the poster is to inspire others.

The “motivational” aspect of the Instagram shred-fest is more about the poster than the viewer.

According to the oft-used theory of the hierarchy of needs, developed by Abraham Maslow, a human’s fundamental need to be recognized is vital, right after having a family and friends. This need is illustrated perfectly with the fitness trend on social media. But there is a difference between wanting recognition and screaming bloody murder to the Internet that you will have that recognition, and right this very instant(gram), please.

Posting a shirtless picture while flexing in the mirror is peak human vanity. There is no context for it; it’s just a person screaming, “Hey look how hot I am!” in a venue that is weirdly socially acceptable. As social media has no doubt magnified the inherent self-absorbed nature of human beings, the fitness Insta-fad is the epitome of “look at me!”

This is not to say that being proud of yourself and having a healthy self-esteem is pure narcissism. Feeling good about who you are is awesome, and if your personal toil is getting ripped in the gym, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, there are much worse ways to spend your time.

That’s not the problem.

We can all agree that you can be confident without shoving it in the face of others, who might see that picture of a perfectly sculpted person and feel like they are inadequate, rather than driven to realize their potential. Because if it was really about encouraging others, the focus would not be on a body part of the subject.

So the next time we are scrolling through Instagram and see a fitness post, let’s recognize it for what it is: unabashed self-promotion.

Until then, keep #grindin and keep those #gains coming.

Follow Scott Baca on Twitter.

More to Discover
Activate Search