The Secret & Silent Killer Behind Thinspiration

Beautiful images of fashion, art, vacation destinations, and food: what’s not to love about Pinterest?

Well, after seeing several pins labeled “thinspiration,” displaying overly thin women and quotes like, “All I want is to be happy, confident, and skinny as hell,” I decided it was time to speak up.

The image in this post is of me, back in my modeling days. This photo was very popular with friends and family on Facebook and with my followers on a modeling website I was a member of at the time.

If Pinterest had been around back then, I definitely would have pinned it for all to see.

Some may look at this image and see a woman that offers “thinspiration,” but the truth is actually much darker.

See, for over a decade, I was obsessed with diet and exercise and was constantly skating on the edge of being diagnosed with an eating disorder.

For many years, the side effects of my lifestyle were of little concern. There was plenty of outside validation and even envy toward my dedication and discipline to diet and exercise. I even landed a modeling contract, receiving more encouragement to maintain my slender frame.

But after a decade of living this harsh and rigid lifestyle, I received a wake-up call that changed the way I viewed my body forever.

At the ripe old age of 26, I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis.

Often referred to as a “silent killer,” this bone-thinning disease had been developing for close to a decade without any pain or discomfort.

And that was only the beginning.

Amenorrhea, digestive issues and painful intercourse were just a few of the other not-so-glamorous truths hidden in the above photo. Eventually, depression, chronic illness and overuse injuries would also be added to this list.

Think this can’t happen to you? Think again.

35 percent of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20 to 25 percent progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.1

Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.2 About half of young female patients with anorexia nervosa have osteoporosis.3 And some of the other side effects of eating disorders are just as common. For example, up to 50 percent of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression.4

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.5

Pinterest makes it clear they do not promote eating disorders right on their site, but images promoting “thinspiration” are still getting pinned.

And Pinterest is just one of several sites facing this “thinspiration” battle. Youtube and Livejournal are also on the list, as are many other sites, some dedicated completely to the “Thinspo” ideology.6

All of this indicates that more awareness needs to be raised about the negative side effects of overexercising and undereating.

So let’s start a Pinterest revolution.

Let’s see how many times we can get this image re-pinned, and let’s make it known that “thinspiration” is not as sexy as everybody thinks it is.

The last thing we need is more content promoting an unhealthy, unrealistic body image. What we do need, however, is a bit more inspiration to look within and develop a healthy, loving and understanding relationship with our own bodies.

Footnotes:

  1. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The Spectrum of Eating Disturbances. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18(3):209-219. []
  2. The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders 101 Guide: A Summary of Issues, Statistics and Resources,” 2003. []
  3. Osteoporosis and Eating Disorders. Eating Disorders Review, 11 (5). Retrieved from http://www.eatingdisordersreview.com/nl/nl_edr_11_5_11.html on 12 November 2012. []
  4. Mortality in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995; 152 (7): 1073-74. []
  5. Mortality in Anorexia Nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995; 152 (7): 1073-74. []
  6. Stonebridge, V. L. (2011). Thinspiration: New Media’s Influence on Girls with Eating Disorders. Thesis, Department of Public Relations College of Communication, Rowan University. Retrieved from http://dspace.rowan.edu/bitstream/handle/10927/188/stonebridgev-t.pdf?sequence=1 on 12 November 2012. []

 


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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Nov 2012
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Gigante, V. (2012). The Secret & Silent Killer Behind Thinspiration. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/11/21/the-secret-silent-killer-behind-thinspiration/

 

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