Imagery Matters: The Role of Fitness Influencers in the Reproduction of Socio-Cultural Gender Norms

Claire Mills*, Fiona Ware and Lucy Woodruff

Imagery Matters: The Role of Fitness Influencers in the Reproduction of Socio-Cultural Gender Norms.

This research explored Instagram ‘Fitness Influencers’, to develop an understanding of the content they post online, the level of objectification and gender differences in the extent of this objectification. The media previously has presented gendered representations of women and men, with women subjected to greater objectification than males, with similar findings in social media research.

Social media research has increased alongside SNS popularity, with online micro-celebrities known as ‘influencers’ becoming imperative to the landscape, creating new job opportunities through
brand relationships. Hence, business and marketing fields have greatly explored influencer’s role in the landscape, changing consumer attitudes and purchase intentions.25,26 However, less consideration has been given to the type of content influencers share; whether as is the case in mainstream media, this imagery is objectified or sexualised, and if so, are there gender differences. Therefore, the main aims for this current study were to establish the type of imagery that was
posted, the association of self-sexualisation or objectification and the frequency of such images between gender.

These themes and codes emerged from the analytical process of the images, with guidance from the broad initial categories. However, the coding process was not a priority, with the following themes, objectification, brand endorsements, lifestyle and engagement in activity emerging from the data. This analysis demonstrated the variety of images posted by influencers and the willingness to share personal endeavours online to unknown individuals.

Sport Exerc Med Open J. 2022; 8(1): 29-38. doi: 10.17140/SEMOJ-8-188