Being a college age girl has its perks. If you want to go out on a Monday, that’s socially acceptable. You can blast Destiney’s Child while you’re in the shower because your roommates won’t nag you like your mom would. Hey, you can snag a free drink or two, just because. But there’s no doubt it comes with its challenges. I’m sure you can relate to well, every other girl who you know or have ever met, who is overly critical of her body and oblivious to her own beauty. It can be tempting (and easy) to get swept up in the pressure to meet unrealistic physical standards…but the problem is we often lose sight of the fact that they are just that: UNREALISTIC! Online, on TV, in magazines and movie screens, we are flooded with images of photo shopped, unhealthy women who are idealized despite being dangerously below their target BMI. Remember that scene in Mean Girls where they stand in front of the mirror and rattle off all of the parts of their bodies they hate? Yeah, welcome to seven o’clock on a Friday night. Open closet, cue self-deprecating girl banter.
Now on top of all the garbage we’re fed in the media, there’s a new risky craze that is self-generated. Thinspiration has been a growing trend online for about a decade, and now with the popularity of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr and countless Youtube videos, it’s sweeping generations of women and has established an extremely unhealthy community. The ‘thinspo’ culture centers on promoting eating disordered lifestyles and discourages girls with eating disorders from seeking treatment, as well as promoting anorexia, bulimia, cutting, and other abusive behaviors. It is common to see celebrated images of emaciated women, quotes that shame and guilt those who eat food, text praising those who purge or spend days on end drinking only water, and hashtags like #skinnyordie, #proana, #promia, and #thinspo. There is so much wrong with the picture here, where can I even begin.
One of the saddest aspects of Thinspiration is that apart from fueling the development of new disorders among impressionable young women and creating body image issues galore, it is a very dangerous trigger for those who have battled eating disorders and recovered. All of the social media platforms I named have created terms of agreement that ban this type of harmful discussion and picture threading, except for Twitter… Sure, they’ve got time to update their entire algorithm system for trending topics (essentially to stop the out of control “Bieber Fever”) but they can’t comment on Thinspiration. Go figure.
If you’d like to get involved in the fight against this detrimental trend, please head to http://www.change.org/petitions/twitter-restrict-use-of-thinspiration-language-and-hashtags and sign the petition I created to hold Twitter responsible for combating thinspiration hashtags and language. If you sign it and recruit others, we can make a difference in the battle of what’s truly beautiful: healthy, happy girls.