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“Thinspiration” on Pinterest

I’m a social media addict.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Communications major or maybe I have too much free time on my hands.  Either way, virtual stalking and constant updates is my thing.   I’ve been using Pinterest for a while and just started using Tumblr this summer.   For me, they’re just another resource to browse through my interests, such as photography, food, fitness, and quirky quotations (I save my stalking for Facebook…).

When browsing the National Her Campus site this week, I saw they were advertising a Huffington Post article on “Thinspiration” content on Pinterest.  Apparently, there is a large group of people, typically teenage girls, who use social media sites, such as Pinterest and Tumblr, to promote anorexia and unhealthy weight loss.

They post their current weight and goal weight, pictures of dangerously thin celebrities, and tips for food and ignoring hunger.   These thinspo blogs, as they’re commonly abbreviated, were banned from Tumblr in February of this year and Pinterest quickly followed suite in March, by banning content that promote self-harm.  When searching “thinspiration” on Pinterest, this is what you will be redirected to: Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening.  For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

Because I am very interested in social media, I was shocked that I had never heard about either the blogs or the ban before this article.   I find it disappointing that people choose to abuse sites that are meant for promoting interests and connecting with others who share the same interests.   Instead of others reaching out to help these individuals, the blogs had cult like followings to track the weight loss of the authors. The whole thing is rather sick to me.

How far can we push the bounds of social media?   Although the thinspo blogs are dangerous, it seems although first amendment rights are coming into play here.   The internet is a public space where people should be able to exercise their freedom of speech.  Tumblr and Pinterest can regulate their content, which makes you wonder if other blogging sites such as WordPress or Blogger will be on the look out for these types of dangerous blogs.


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