Anorexia Articles

Can We Stamp Out Thinspiration on Twitter? Torri Singer Thinks We Can

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Can We Stamp Out Thinspiration on Twitter? Torri Singer Thinks We CanPro-anorexia (or “pro-ana”) groups have been around online for over a decade, and we first discussed them here five years ago. More recently, with the rise of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, these groups have found a new life. Often associated with the label “thinspiration,” these groups elevate the idea of being thin to a virtual religion.

People who are all about thinspiration engage in disordered eating in order to be as thin as possible — a common symptom of anorexia. But they don’t see it as a disorder or a problem, making this an insidious problem.

Nonetheless, such eating and self-image problems can result in health problems, even putting the individual’s life at risk.

Some people have sought to get common words or terms that people engaged in thinspiration use banned from social networking websites. One such woman is Torri Singer, a broadcast journalism major who has recently begun a petition to get such terms banned from Twitter.

Do Fashion Magazines Make You Feel Fat?

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Do Fashion Magazines Make You Feel Fat?Want to feel better about your body?  Stop reading fashion magazines.

It’s the holidays.  Magazines focus on our waistlines and ways to survive the season while keeping a slender figure. I’m all for good health, but we’re frequently sold an image, product or diet that does not always result in good mental or physical health, particularly for women.

What’s your ideal weight?  In one alarming study, adolescent girls described their ideal girl as 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing a mere 100 pounds.

This ideal is — at best — unhealthy and, for many, anorexic. 

The Secret & Silent Killer Behind Thinspiration

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

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.

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role Model

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Demi Lovato: A New Kind of Hollywood Role ModelWho inspires you? Who do you admire as a role model? I’m sure a lot of those answers can be found within your close circle of friends and family, but of course, there are also those who can lift you up from afar.

It’s been hard in recent years to ignore young entertainers’ breakdowns, drug habits, and bad behavior. Demi Lovato, a 20-year-old singer/songwriter, actress, and newly appointed judge on the talent show “The X Factor,” has endured much internal struggle.

But she has courageously sought mental health assistance and boldly documented her journey to share with others for inspiration. Along with her “stay strong” motto, she’s demonstrated that obstacles can be overcome, which is what ultimately highlights her as a different type of role model.

Can You Decrease Belly Fat with Mindfulness?

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Can You Decrease Belly Fat with Mindfulness?Did you know that our taste buds tire quickly? Yes, it’s true. If you’ve ever bitten into a piece of chocolate cake and found that first bite heavenly and then finished the cake barely noticing the taste of the final bite, then you’ve experienced tired taste buds.

Our taste buds are chemical sensors that pick up on taste acutely for the first few bites.  After eating a large amount, we may taste very little of what we’re eating.

So what does this have to do with belly fat and mindfulness?

According to clinical psychologist Jean Kristeller, PhD, president and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating, many of us are eating too often and too much.

Helping to End Eating- and Weight-Related Disorders

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Helping to End Eating- and Weight-Related DisordersOur current culture presents a confusing array of messages about eating and body image. We see media images which promote unrealistic (and generally unreal) bodies paired with headlines about obesity prevention programs; news stories about eating disorders alongside multiple supersize food options; push for perfection alongside marketing for indulgence.

It’s no wonder we have both increasing incidents of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, as well as increasing prevalence of binge eating disorder and rates of obesity.

Navigating this confusing world without falling into an eating- or weight-related disorder does require a return to some basic facts.

Why Do Women Hate Their Bodies?

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Women’s National Health Week, an annual awareness event dedicated to all issues related to women’s health, was May 13-19 this year.

In honor of this year’s message, “It’s your time,” I want to draw attention to the link between how we see ourselves and how we treat our bodies.

Currently, 80 percent of women in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their appearance. And more than 10 million are suffering from eating disorders.

So the question I have to ask, Why all the self-hatred?

My Psychotherapy Story for an Eating Disorder

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

My Psychotherapy Story for an Eating DisorderI live in a town where eating disorder treatment is almost nonexistent. Feeling in danger of a relapse, I decided it was time to see a therapist. She was a licensed psychologist specializing in eating disorders and women’s issues. I went voluntarily, not expecting what I received.

Everything was booked and set via email. My choice. I hate calling people. She mailed me all the paperwork from her office to bring with me on my first visit. What I loved when I first met her was that she didn’t even want to look at the filled-out documents during session; she was eager to get down to talking. I was nervous being there, naturally, it’s sensitive material being shared with a stranger. I remember which chair I sat in and how she sat on the couch.

Eager. Ready.

Is Unresolved Trauma Preventing a Full Eating Disorder Recovery?

Monday, March 5th, 2012

Is Unresolved Trauma Preventing a Full Eating Disorder Recovery? There is a strong correlation between trauma and eating disorders. A number of studies have shown that people who struggle with eating disorders have a higher incidence of neglect and physical, emotional and sexual abuse. In particular, binge eating disorder is associated with emotional abuse while sexual abuse has been linked to eating disorders in males.

So what constitutes trauma?

Trauma comes in many forms, including childhood abuse or neglect, growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home, environmental catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina, a serious accident, loss of a loved one, and violent attacks such as rape and sexual assault. What all of these experiences have in common is that they leave the individual feeling helpless and out of control.

Trauma isn’t the same as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a specific diagnosis with distinct criteria, involving a serious or life-threatening experience that results in nightmares, flashbacks, attempts to avoid situations similar to those that led to the trauma and a hyperactive startle response, among other symptoms.

Interview with Margarita Tartakovsky

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Interview with Margarita TartakovskyRecently I had the chance to ask Margarita Tartakovsky, an associate editor at Psych Central, a few questions about eating behavior.  She blogs regularly about eating and self-image issues on her blog Weightless.

Q. Why doesn’t the current model of treating obesity — only telling people what and how much to eat — work for most people?

A. Great question, because the current model definitely doesn’t work. I can’t remember who said it, but there’s a saying that if you want to gain weight, go on a diet. Diets have a failure rate of about 95 percent. People may lose weight initially but then they usually gain it back and then some.

So this model doesn’t work for many reasons. For one thing, genetics plays a prominent role in our weight. This is why you can have two people who eat the same foods in the same quantities look very different. One may be thin; the other may be considered “overweight.” Our bodies are more complicated than the “calories in, calories out” equation assumes.

Integrative Medicine to Treat Eating Disorders

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Integrative Medicine to Treat Eating Disorders Integrative medicine can be defined as “a healing-oriented discipline that takes into account the whole person — body, mind and spirit — including all aspects of lifestyle. It emphasizes the therapeutic relationship and makes use of both conventional and alternative therapies.”

Complementary and alternative therapies used in integrative medicine can include acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal medicine, dietary supplements and others that give the clinician a wide array of treatments for difficult conditions. This is particularly true in the integrative medicine approach to eating disorders.

Eating disorders have been documented in adolescents and adults for many years. More recently, there is evidence that these disorders can also affect young children.

The cornerstones of an integrative medicine model for eating disorders includes some components that are found in every approach to the treatment of eating disorders, but may be used in a unique manner. Others are more specific to the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. The most important difference in this model when compared to other treatment strategies is the philosophical underpinning of integrative medicine — that is, the belief in the self-healing nature of body, mind and spirit.

Little Research Supports Residential Treatment of Eating Disorders

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Little Research Supports Residential Treatment of Eating DisordersThere’s a lucrative cottage industry in the U.S. for the residential treatment of almost anything you can imagine. Everything from “Internet addiction” and drug and alcohol problems, to eating and mood disorders. If you can treat it in an outpatient setting, the thinking goes, why not treat it in a “residential” setting for 30 or more days where you control every aspect of the patient’s life?

The “residential” treatment approach has long been available for eating disorders, since the treatment of these disorders tends to be long and complicated. Andrew Pollack writing for the New York Times notes how these kinds of programs have now become the focus of insurance companies looking to cut back on treatment options.

It’s no surprise, really. With the rollout of mental health parity — requiring that insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with mental disorders for their treatment options — those companies are looking for other places they can cut costs. Residential treatment for eating disorders appears to be one obvious area.

So is residential treatment a legitimate modality for helping people with eating disorders? Should insurance companies cover the costs of such care?

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