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The Project FIVE Of The St. Pölten University Of Applied Sciences Explores How The Hashtag #fitspiration Impacts Gender Stereotypes, Health Behaviours And Body Awareness Of Adolescents

#fitspiration - Questionable Health Trend for Teenagers?

ST. PÖLTEN, Austria, Dec. 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- #fitspiration is a global health trend in social media. The image platform Instagram alone offers approximately 20 million posts with the hashtag. #fitspiration is aimed at motivating people to adopt a healthier lifestyle. However, #fitspiration often tends to preach extreme and unbalanced training or nutrition habits, while communicating very one-sided gender norms at the same time. Adolescents in particular are strongly represented in social media and use these channels to obtain information. The project "FIVE ─ #Fitspiration Image VErification" examines the influences of #fitspiration on the gender identities, health behaviours, and body images of these young people.

"FIVE wants to find out what makes teenagers follow the hashtag #fitspiration. Which body images, role models and recommendations for health and fitness are shared? How strong is the impact of influencers, and what is users' image of them and their marketing strategies?", explains FH-Prof. Mag. Dr. Elisabeth Höld, project lead and Senior Researchers at the Institute of Health Sciences at the St. Pölten UAS.

A Tool for Teenagers to Detect Image ManipulationBased on the insights gained, an interdisciplinary online course for upper secondary school pupils is to be designed. A central element is the development of a target group-oriented tool for forensic image analysis as currently available tools are not suitable for teaching pupils how to detect image manipulation. The goal of the online course is to enable young people to encounter images and health information in social media with a critical and conscious mindset.

"Both digital tools such as Photoshop and automatic filter methods are easy to handle and make it hard to distinguish between an original photograph and a manipulated one. We believe that teenagers should be taught the confident handling of digital media", says Mag. Ulrike Zdimal-Lang from the publishing company Hölzel.

Another objective is to make teenagers recognise the clever marketing model behind many influencers' representation in social media that is designed to sell food supplements and sportswear in particular. Moreover, the course provides information on gender and diversity in an age-appropriate manner.

"The images portrayed in social media frequently reproduce outdated gender-specific stereotypes and create health and beauty ideals that are virtually impossible to achieve. By making adolescents aware of this, FIVE tries to counteract the often one-sided and exaggerated expectations towards looks and fitness perpetuated by #fitspiration, thereby making a scientifically grounded contribution to young people's health", emphasises Dr. Bettina Prokop, the project's gender expert.

About FIVEThe interdisciplinary project FIVE is carried out by the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences (as the project lead) together with the publishing company Hölzel and gender expert Bettina Prokop. The project is financed by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG).

Further information on the project is available at

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SOURCE St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences