‘Thinspiration’: A form of self-harm?

While news media has often gotten a bad rap for encouraging unhealthy diets and unrealistic body image expectations, there is a new wave of threats towards individuals who are predisposed to eating disorders and body image issues.

‘Thinspiration’ is a recent phenomenon in which individuals–primarily girls and women–take to social media outlets in order to post images and other content which is intended to motivate people to become thinner. Unfortunately, the majority of this content encourages self-starvation, purging, and other unhealthy weight loss methods which can lead to or perpetuate disordered eating.

Based on my own experiences, thinspiration can be extremely triggering for eating disorder behaviors and it can also be extremely addictive. In the past I have spent hours looking at such content online in search of the secrets that would allow me to lose enough weight that I might one day love my body. Of course, that never happened. Instead, I was hurting myself physically and emotionally by starving myself into a state of total self-destruction.

For this reason, I believe that ‘thinspiration’ is simply another form of self-harm thinly veiled as a form of motivation for self-improvement. For all intents and purposes, the content is intended to help people achieve an unrealistic and unhealthy standard of “beauty” no matter how dangerous it might be.   The images highlight thigh-gaps, collar bones, hip bones, and ribs. Internalizing the messages from this content is toxic for the mind; it may not be as overtly harmful as cutting one’s self, but the resulting self-starvation is just as dangerous.

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