2018 NASSS Annual Conference
Sport Soundtrack: Sport, Music, & Culture

Rebecca Olive

University of Queensland
Networked Affects: Women’s self-representations of physical activity on Instagram

This paper explores the role of Instagram hashtags in women’s representations of their experiences of fitness and physical activity. Our focus is on the followers of two prominent Australian online fitness influences– Kayla Itsines and Lita Lewis. Specifically, we investigate how women use Itsines’ #BBG hashtag and Lewis’ #thickfit hashtag to associate themselves with popular body and health philosophies promoted by these fitness influencers. Thematic analysis is used to explore the affects generated by the sharing of user-generated data – in this case, hashtags, images, videos and captions – associated with these fitness-focused influencers. Our analysis is theoretically informed by explorations of networked affect. In contrast to existing studies of women’s fitness images on social media that are primarily centred on the negative effects of social media on women’s and girls’ body image, networked affect allows for a broader consideration of how Instagram users may articulate a range of feelings and emotions online through hashtags associated with fitness influencers and their communities - from connection, pleasure and desire through to despair and even resistance to dominant body image/fitspiration narratives found on social media.