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A content analysis of thinspiration, fitspiration, and bonespiration imagery on social media

Talbot, Catherine; Gavin, Jeffrey; van Steen, Tommy; Morey, Yvette


Catherine Talbot

Jeffrey Gavin

Tommy van Steen


Background: On social media, images such as thinspiration, fitspiration, and bonespiration, are shared to inspire certain body ideals. Previous research has demonstrated that exposure to these groups of content is associated with increased body dissatisfaction and decreased self-esteem. It is therefore important that the bodies featured within these groups of content are more fully understood so that effective interventions and preventative measures can be informed, developed, and implemented.

Method: A content analysis was conducted on a sample of body-focussed images with the hashtags thinspiration, fitspiration, and bonespiration from three social media platforms.

Results: The analyses showed that thinspiration and bonespiration content contained more thin and objectified bodies, compared to fitspiration which featured a greater prevalence of muscles and muscular bodies. In addition,
bonespiration content contained more bone protrusions and fewer muscles than thinspiration content.

Conclusions: The findings suggest fitspiration may be a less unhealthy type of content; however, a subgroup of imagery was identified which idealised the extremely thin body type and as such this content should also be approached with caution. Future research should utilise qualitative methods to further develop understandings of the body ideals that are constructed within these groups of content and the motivations behind posting this content.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 26, 2017
Journal Journal of Eating Disorders
Print ISSN 2050-2974
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 40
Institution Citation Talbot, C., Gavin, J., van Steen, T., & Morey, Y. (2017). A content analysis of thinspiration, fitspiration, and bonespiration imagery on social media. Journal of Eating Disorders, 5(40),
Keywords thinspiration, fitspiration, bonespiration, social media, body image, content analysis
Publisher URL


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