The increase in focus on health, fitness and bikini model / body building increase dramatically in the past few years, and as a result, ‘Insta-celebs’ and health/fitness trainers/coaches etc. has also risen. There was bound to be a downfall at some point. Jess Ainscough, Belle Gibson, Kayla Itsines and Ashy Bines have all made the headlines recently. Here’s why you should be wary of “fitspo” on Instagram and blogs.
The reality – Australian Fitspo, Wellness and Health bloggers and instagrammers the blowup
I’ve seen the increase in focus on health, fitness and bikini model / body building increase dramatically in the past few years. More recently, I haven’t been able to keep up with the increase of the ‘insta-celebs’ and health/fitness trainers/coaches etc. It seem’s everyone on Instagram is dishing out advice, motivation and ‘inspiration’ theses days (and I’ll admit as a fitness and lifestyle blogger, I have to fall into this category). However, the difference between my and Ashey Bines or Kayla Itsines is, I’m not selling anything. Some of these bloggers and ‘insta-celebs’ sell diets, health plans, e-books, fitness plans, fitness guides, iPhone/android apps and even books and merchandise.
The lines are being blurred between expert and ‘spokesperson’/model or advocate. No longer are young women just limited to their local gym, boot-camp or Personal Trainer for exercise advice, a training plan or diet, you can buy a 12 week ‘Bikini Body Guide’ from Kayla Itsines for $69.97 or sign up to Ashy Bines Bikini Body Challenge for a one year contract for $29.95 a week. Or get free workouts on YouTube, recipes via Instagram and workout tips via a blog.
The fall out:
With the rise of fame of health and well being bloggers and instagrammers, there was bound to be a downfall at some point. Right?
It all started tumbling down earlier this year when it was reported that “wellness warrior” Jess Ainscough died from cancer at age 30. At the time she was attempting to treat her rare form of cancer with natural healing after chemotherapy initially worked, then failed. Ainscough turned to controversial Gerson Therapy (despite the Cancer Council advising that the therapy was not proven to work. Unfortunately, Ainscough kept trying, instead opting for an alcohol-free vegan diet, drinking raw juices, taking vitamin supplements and undergoing coffee enemas daily to try and beat the cancer.
More recently we’ve seen video blogger and YouTube sensation, Freelee The Banana Girl go up against Instagram superstar and fitness freak Kayla Itsines for purportedly giving out , and then there was news that Emily Anderson (aka Emily Skye bikini model) suing Ashey Bines’ husband back in February. Next up was Ashy Bines hitting the headlines again; calling herself “Australia’s Leading Body Training Specialist’, who charges $100 for her Clean Eating Diet Plan that is actually plagarised. If you missed the news, the ‘recipes’ in her diet plan were actually plagiarised.
Next up, in what seems like a year of scandal for Aussie health and fitness bloggers was the bombshell that topped all these stories. The well know health and wellness blogger, “cancer survivor”, author and “The Whole Pantry” app developer, otherwise known as Belle Gibson was reported as owing charities $300,000 in sales from her app; and had been apparently lying about having cancer, ultimately not having medical proof to back up her claims that she was fighting cancer by eating well.
The bombshell has officially dropped. Belle Gibson, is a LIAR. She admitted it herself in an interview with the Australian Woman’s Weekly (out today), when she was asked outright if she has, or ever has had cancer.
“No. None of it’s true,” she confessed. And then it’s come out that she’s still lying. Oh boy!!
What we can learn:
I read an article that appeared in Body & Soul (the lift-out from The Herald Sun) on the weekend that originally spurred an Instgram post, and then this blog post. Why I’m wary of these bloggers and Insta-celebs… YES they may be inspirational, look great (and tanned, have beautiful hair/makeup) and post pretty pictures of fresh fruit, acai bowls, smoothies and ‘raw delights’, but unless you take what they’re saying in context (their whole life / job most of the time is selling an end-product) you should be wary too. Some of these people such as Ashy Bines and Freelee the Banana Girl don’t even have qualifications to be dishing out their ‘advice’.
Personally, I worry that many young women and teens can develop unhealthy eating habits (eg. ruling out whole food groups), and possibly start eating disorders. Fitness inspiration and advice can’t be delivered in just a photo – there is risk of injury, overexercising and not knowing readers preconditions. Cookie-cutter programs are not for me, and while they may be cheap, and may deliver short term results, users have to consider long term goals and lifestyle choices. I do follow some of these accounts, however only follow them for ‘inspiration’. Personally I choose to train at a Crossfit box, at Crossfit Moreland where the head coach and programmer is a qualified, and in the past have had exercise programs and diets from a qualified coach (for my fitness model body building competitions).
Q. What do you think? What’s your opinion on this whole saga?
Please note: Views expressed in this post are my own. In my own blog posts I aim to give ideas, inspiration and motivation and openly admit that while recently I completed a Certificate III in Fitness (Australian Institute of Fitness), I do not feel ‘qualified’ to sell fitness plans/diet plans etc. I merely find health and fitness interesting, and via my own experiences wish to share what I’ve learnt.