Ashy Bines and getting fit online: expanding the conversation around young women’s engagement with fitspo

Catherine Hartung, Natalie Hendry, Rosie Welch

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    The last decade has seen an overwhelming rise in the popularity of online health and fitness education and inspiration—commonly described as ‘fitspo’, ‘thinspo’, or ‘thinspiration’—via social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. Recent academic engagement with this online phenomenon has primarily focused on the potential harms to young women’s body image, as well as its role in exacerbating issues for those with eating disorders (see, for example, Cobb, 2017; Depper & Howe, 2017; Simpson & Mazzeo, 2017; Jong & Drummond, 2016; Hefner et al, 2016; Knobloch-Westerwick, 2015). Mimicking long-held criticisms of the impact of women’s print media, the criticisms of fitspo see young women at risk of unfairly comparing themselves to the seemingly unrealistic (buffed and filtered) ‘skinny’ and ‘fit’ bodies and highly curated lifestyles that are promoted and circulated online. While these critiques are important, they also present a fairly narrow reading of what are very complex online cultures and communities. In this paper we seek to expand beyond this criticism to consider the multifaceted ways in which fitspo, in particular the fitspo produced by young entrepreneurs like Gold Coast ‘fitness guru’ Ashy Bines and her Australian peers, works in contemporary contexts. We examine online presence of these Aussie fitness gurus on multiple social media platforms through three analytical angles. The first angle examines how Bines’ entrepreneurial background and brand of fitspo is produced within and contributes to the trillion-dollar wellness industry that competes with and can even replace institutionally-established forms of nutrition, health, and fitness education. The second angle examines how Bines’ ‘expertise’ is made possible via the creation of intimacy with her followers and thus authenticity, especially through her online documentary series ‘Ashy Bines Raw’. The third angle examines how Bines, as a social media ‘influencer’, is situated within a distinct Australian vernacular related to class and culture. To conclude we bring these three analyses together to explore the implications for critical health education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventCritical Health Education Studies Conference 2018: New Moves in an Old Game - Copthorne Hotel & Resort, Queenstown, New Zealand
    Duration: 29 May 20181 Jun 2018


    ConferenceCritical Health Education Studies Conference 2018
    Abbreviated titleCHESS 2018
    Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
    Internet address

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