Fitness Selfie and Anorexia: A study of ‘fitness’ selfies of women on Instagram and its contribution to anorexia nervosa

Benson Rajan

Punctum, 4(2): 66-89, 2018
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2018.0020

Abstract

The stares of others driving and encouraging the deliberate transformation of one’s body into a fit body has become a common narrative of fitness selfies. Research findings show that women who share self images on social media have higher levels of dietary restraint and overvaluation of shape and weight than those who do not (Mclean 2005). Similarly, women who post fitspiration images on social media have a higher drive for thinness and compulsive exercise (Holland 2017). This paper attempts to study the process behind fitness influencers’ production and sensory-motor performance of ‘fit’ visuals as factors contributing to anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders. The theoretical framework of the study draws from semiotic photography theory, which explores the gestural aspects of a visual. Participant recruitment used a purposive (a type of non-probability sampling) approach, coupled with snowball sampling. In-depth interviews were conducted with the participants who are female fitness influencers from India. The semiotic analysis of the selfies shared by the participants substantiated the interviews. The selfies analysed were chosen on the basis of their curation choices, as well as on the number of likes and comments they receive.

KEYWORDS: Fitness Selfie, Mental Health, Anorexia, Instagram Influencers, Photography Theory
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