My hashtag thinspirationover is the only one of its kind. I feel this is a sad state of things when you know the true physiological nature of thinspiration or thinspo. Most use it with their weight loss goals mass hashtags through social media without thinking. In reality, it is one of the worst body image mottos out there.
First, let us start with what some combined definitions of thinspiration from Urban Dictionary:
Abbreviation of Thinspiration.
"Thinspiration is two words put together to create a similar but different meaning. Thin and inspiration. Formed after the words ‘thin’ and ‘inspiration’, the thinspiration is the motivation obtained of certain kind of images and quotes to stay thin or lose weight. It became popular in pro eating disorder sites, where the thinspiration consist of photos of extremely skinny girls and quotes that promote starvation.
Thinspo can be anything. Book quotes, song lyrics, films. [however,] it has also a widely extended healthy meaning where the photos are of thin or fit girls, of low calories food, exercises and quotes that motivates to stay thin in a healthy way.”
Thinspo has become a controversial topic as people see it as motivation to achieve their goals. I even used to be a #thinspo user. I used to follow thinspiration blogs and instragrams to get recipes and new routines to try on my way to a healthy body. Until the girl who was running the name thinspiration on instagram took photos of herself and body parts she did not like stating she knows she’s got a way to go still. She was a slender, petite girl. A teenage girl. That is when I actually looked into others who followed her. Mostly young, slender women or average looking girls. Girls who seemed like if they lost the weight they wanted to it would mean they would not have any body fat on them at all. So why did they feel they needed to eat 100 cal lunches and workout incessantly?
That is when I realized, with minimal research, that thinspo was actually negative thought processes in the guise of positive aspirations and inspiration to support negative behaviors. This “positive” thinking is used by the pro-ana (anorexia nervosa) and pro-mia (bulimia nervosa) communities. There are literal websites and forums dedicated to people talk about their binging schedules, how they binge, how they avoid fainting, how their hide their behaviors of pro-ana and pro-mia from other people, etc. I was shocked. Why is this something that is not seen as a disorder but instead people achieving healthy lifestyles?
According to the DSM, only those with a certain BMI or an extreme form of actions can be diagnosed with either condition. I believe this is faulty logic of the psychological community. It is not the first time they have been wrong. This means a overweight person is only seen as being healthful if they use some of these borderline techniques, but if you continue the behavior after you achieve a “correct” BMI, then it’s a disorder. A friend of mine who knew she was anorexic and sought help was even told by a therapist that she could not be anorexic because she did not have the body type of someone with an eating disorder; i.e. she did not have the proper BMI to qualify her.
There is a 3rd category to help with catching those who fall between the cracks of the exacting standards of the other disorders by labeling it 307.50 Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified. However, even that has categories that some women might not fall under yet would still be leading extremely unhealthy lifestyles. Nowhere in the DSM does the action of working out excessively, juicing, or even engaging in other purging activities such as purging “toxins” through body cleanses, excessive hot yoga is mentioned. Even behaviors such as smoking, or even taking supplements to suppress appetite or to help prevent fat from being absorbed by the body introduce areas that are not technically covered by the DSM.
Now I’ve seen thinspo is not something I want to be associated with anymore. So I hope you all who have had a problem with an eating disorder, or who do not want to support others who might have an eating disorder, and their negative body image, please do not use thinspo or thinspiration hashtags.
We need to live in a world in which we actually support loving yourself for who you are, and not trying to keep fixing what you think is broken. You’re not broken, ugly, or too fat just because you don’t have a thigh-gap or similar “skinny” feature. (Just to let you all know thigh-gap is predominately a hereditary feature and there is very little you can actually do to get or keep it, so stop trying… please.) All you need to be is the healthiest version of yourself; losing your hair, nails, eroding your teeth, causing esophagi problems, and even giving yourself epilepsy is not healthy. We’re not even getting into the all the health issues that you can get from being ana or mia.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which can occur with eating disorders due to the dips in insulin and therefore causing problems with hormone regulation, can stick with you for a lifetime. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can cause several life altering problems up to and including infertility and thyroid disorder-like weight and emotional issues due to the hormone imbalances.
If you know someone who has mentioned being pro-ana and/or pro-mia, visits those websites or forums, or even someone who you might think might have an eating disorder, please contact NEDA at 1-800-931-2237 or visit their website to get help on how to proceed.