Next Time You “Feel Fat”, Think About This

17 May

This post should disturb you. I have edited this post closely regarding the photographic and verbal content, because I want EVERYONE to read this.

Whatever your view on the disturbing images that populate the web of starving children in Africa, most individuals agree that world hunger is devastatingly tragic. In my last post I mentioned that my husband and I are really committed to someday being able to give freely to help organizations such as those that work to end hunger. However, what you read below, may be even more tragic. Thanks to the objectifying of women, especially in Europe and North America, as well as the alarmingly growing rate of broken families and homes, eating disorders- the deliberate choosing of starvation and/or purging- have become mainstream and have lost their shock factor. In today’s world, eating disorders hit close to home for everyone.

“Beauty of Bones.”

“I Will Be Perfect Eventually.”

“Tastelessss.”

“The Shrinking Game.”

“Make me Tiny.”

“Feather Light and Rail Thin.”

“Skin and Bone Chic.”

“Skinny Pretty Starving.”

All of the above are Tumblr account names for a “Thinspo” or “Thinspiration” site. These girls (and a few guys) post pictures and words of “encouragement”  to inspire themselves to lose weight, get skinny, and attain their version of  a dream body.

The majority of account holders seem to be girls in their late teens all the way to women in their late twenties. Many of them seem to be normal “good girls”, others are struggling with other vices such as suicide and cutting.

Most of the posts look somewhat like this:

Tumblr attempted to ban these kinds of posts at the beginning of 2011, and Pinterest recently banned “Thinspo” pictures as well. Obviously, these attempts haven’t done much of anything.

Pro-ana. Yes, it is what you think it is. Pro anorexia. A movement fast gaining followers, believing that anorexia is a lifestyle choice, not a mental illness or disorder. Pro-ana websites are springing up quickly, and range in everything from helping readers deal with the complications of bulimia and over using laxatives, to forums and places where pro-anas can post “Thinspo” pics. Some hardcore Pro-anas even believe in praying to the “god of anorexia” to make them thinner and more beautiful.

Disturbing, yes. In all my research, I started thinking about what I might have done to make this worse. Is it really encouraging to rave about how a friend has lost weight, and is looking more-than-usually good looking? I think about the way girls are treated, and the way boys have grown up learning from their friends or their fathers, that a good girl is even better if she is a “pretty and skinny” girl too. I think about parents who have defined for their children a standard of unattainable perfection. Society as a whole, myself included, has made a rather large monster out of the outward appearance struggle.

Money or no money, no matter where you are financially, you may not be able to fix world hunger, but you can stop encouraging people to deprive themselves from a healthy thriving lifestyle by the things you say and do here at home.

I think I will start taking words I use for myself such as “fat” and “gross” much more seriously. And next time I look in the mirror, I think I will look at myself a bit more kindly.

Correction:

Pinterest has actually been able to remove a majority of the “Thinspo” pictures on their site, and when you type “Thinspo” or something similar into the Pinterest search bar, Pinterest now posts this at the top of the page:

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 www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

Way to go Pinterest!!!

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