Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Guest Post: Is Social Media Offering a Safe Haven for Disordered Eating in Teens?

Anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are generally frowned upon and discouraged among teens, and skin and bones isn’t attractive to the majority of people, no matter how you cut it. So why are so many teens still engaging in this harmful behavior? Log onto any social media site and you’re bound to see pictures of food, links to weight loss tips, and people complaining about their weight. That’s just normal, everyday life, right? Maybe. But maybe not. While you and I may seem these acts as normal, people who struggle with disordered views of their body may see it as an open door to encouraging eating less and working out more, to the point that they’re battling for their lives, even though they may see it as battling for a better body. 


Pinterest recently came under fire for inadvertently encouraging “thinspiration” for people suffering from anorexia, bulimia, and other disordered eating habits and views on how the body should look. Jezebel recently released an article detailing this “thinspo” phenomenon, showing how women were congregating together  and creating “thinspo” Pinterest boards where they pinned pictures of women who were bare bones to inspire them to be thinner as well.

Since then, when you search Pinterest for “thinspiration” a warning message will come up saying “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening.For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or”

A quick Twitter hashtag search for #proana will bring up everyone discussing any and all things related to pro-anorexia. Girls and guys alike post pictures of bones jutting out, siting this as #thinspiration and being #proana. There are tweets showing what #proanas do at restaurants, with a picture of coloring books. And there’s even a new pro-ana Twitter account that offers tips for those wishing to engage in a pro-anorexia lifestyle.
Not to be left out, the largest social media site definitely has its place in the disturbing world of encouraging disordered eating and helping people strive for thighs that don’t touch and collar bones that stick out. One search of “thinspiration” and “pro-ana” brings up fan pages and support groups, giving people a place to swap stories and tips, and post goal pictures and (what is deemed to be) success pictures when they achieve a certain amount of thinness.
Encouraging Thinspiration
In our quest to eliminate obesity and encourage healthy habits, there is always the risk of people, teens especially, taking advice too literally and too far, especially with the extreme focus in the media of stars sporting unattainable bodies and going on crazy crash diets. However social media has given these type of people a new outlet and even community that encourages these views. It’s not necessarily the fault of social media, but it is definitely one of the consequences of connecting people around the world.

Author  Byline:
Monta the mother of three children serves as an Expert Advisor on multiple household help issues to many Organizations and groups, and is a mentor for other “Mom-preneurs” seeking guidance.  She is a regular contributor of “”.  You can get in touch with her at montafleming6Atgmail dotcom.

No comments:

Post a Comment