If you work directly in social media (or know anyone who does) you will know that it has quickly become a multi-million dollar industry. Don’t get us wrong, we love scrolling and getting some healthy and fit inspiration, and giving some of our own, but with Instagram’s more than 300 million monthly users we know we are not the only ones. However, as it goes with anything that is unregulated, anyone is free to upload what they wish and make the weirdest and wackiest claims. It is our role as visual and money-based consumers to critically analyze what is being thrown at us.

Optical illusions
As you scroll through endless gym selfies and perfectly carved out muscles, it’s important to remember that each and every picture you see is an idealized image of one’s self. Assuming you’re an Instagram poster yourself, consider the filtering and photo manipulation you manufacture for pictures that only reach your circle of friends and acquaintances. Now imagine that process if you had thousands, or even millions, of followers. How much more effort would you put in to making your images as close to perfection as possible? We all want to reflect the best versions of ourselves to the public eye and that is perfectly normal, but knowing this and actively taking it into account as you are scrolling through your phone is important.

That being said, it’s also important to keep in mind what goes into those photos behind the scenes. You don’t actually know what kind of lifestyle that icon is living, what they’re eating or not eating, what supplements, hormones or steroids they may be taking, if their images are pre or post workout, and if Photoshop or plastic surgery has been involved. It’s easy to post a photo with a #cleaneating or #allnatural hashtag, but no one can know the real truth except them. Sure, that self-proclaimed yoga princess is in an amazing pose, but who helped her balance and twist her way into it for her most recent post? We’re assuming people’s honesty at face value, when the sad truth is ego and money often get in the way of moral decision making, especially in (self) advertising.

Beware of the product pusher
There is a big gap between people sharing their healthy lifestyle and bringing to light different available options, and those who give unfounded advice and product recommendations. Lately, the two seem to have gotten mixed up in Insta-Land. Just by scrolling through the #health #fit #nutrition #fitspo hashtags you will see masses of people following extreme cleanses, tea detoxes, and even claims that vaccinating your children will lead to autism and Alzheimer’s. Among the visually appealing pictures are some very dangerous claims by mostly unauthorized people. Do your own research before deciding to try out a product or diet which claims and promises crazy results. Remember that companies and brands will take advantage of the large follower base ‘fit’ Instagram personalities have, and use this to promote their not-always-so-healthy products.

Social media has had a massive impact on encouraging people to join a gym, do yoga, eat more greens and for that we are grateful; it’s what we’re all about! It’s also important to acknowledge that there are those who genuinely dedicate their lives to fitness and wellbeing in an honest way, and we don’t want to take away from all their amazing efforts. However, it’s important to get your health and nutrition information from a trusted, reliable, and certified source rather than a model who (supposedly) has really nice abs.