Thinspiration & Pro-Ana Websites: Helpful or Hurtful?

Apr 13, 2012
by: lirkry

Losing weight can be a very difficult thing to do. Working out can be tiring, and giving up sweets and soda can be torture. Some people just need motivation. Inspiration to keep going. For certain people, their inspiration is called “thinspiration”. These people, (commonly people with eating disorders) look at picture of extremely thin girls, with quotes such as “I want to be skinny for summer” or “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. This pictures and blogs actually motivate girls to starve themselves and promote anorexia and bulimia. I found out about thinspiration a couple of months ago, on my favorite website Tumblr. I was amazed to hear what these teen girls were posting. Fourteen to seventeen year old crying that they ate more than 400 calories, and other girls commenting saying to fast, or starve the next day. I don’t believe many people know about thinspo, it seems to be a secret community online.

From what I already know, there are hundreds of pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and pro-mia (pro-bulimia) blogs on Tumblr. “HW,LW,CW,UGW” are the title of their blogs, showing their highest weight, lowest weight, current weight, and ultimate goal weight. These teen girls post their daily calorie intake, and of course plenty of thinspo images. Many of the pictures show anorexic girls, yet they are described as fragile and angelic. Most thinspo images contain three things: collar bones, hip bones, and a thigh gap. Those three things are considered perfection in the thinspo world.

My first article of research was an article named “The Secret Society of Starving”. This article provided interviews from girls who suffered these eating disorders, and women who run pro-ana and pro-mia websites. As read from the article, people with anorexia don’t seem to think they have a problem. They see it as a simple lifestyle choice. It almost seems like a religion. Pro-ana websites serve as comfort, as stated by Claire:”I can go online and talk to them there, and they know exactly what I'm going through and how I feel. And I don't have to worry about them judging me for how I feel.'' This shows me that these websites help girls with eating disorders feel more accepted than judged.

The second article I read was named “Seeking Thinspiration”. These article explained the growing rate of thinspo blogs on the social networking sites we all use today. As stated from the article, these websites not only motivate, but fuel eating disorders. As stated in the article: “"Hearing girls your weight or smaller say they are fat makes you feel worthless. Ana tips can push you to take it too far and thinspirational pictures give you an unattainable goal." This shows me that girls with eating disorders are never satisfied, no matter how much they weigh. Once they see girls skinner then them, they work even harder. They will always return to thinspo websites because they always need motivation to lose weight. What makes it dangerous is the girls there will always support them.

The third article I read was named “Skinny Celebrities Drive One in Five 11 year olds to Diet”. This article provide many statistics of young girls and their reason for dieting. One statistic showed that images of slim celebrities were to blame: “One in three blamed pictures of skinny celebrities in magazines and on the internet for their weight obsession”. This shows me that thinspo images are very dangerous. Since young girls usually follow what they see, they become unhappy with themselves and diet at an unreasonably young age. These websites start eating disorders, as well as promoting them.

The fourth article I read was named “Not Pro-Ana: Inside the Online Sisterhood of Eating Disorders”. This article explains how the girls that follow these images and websites don’t believe it is a dangerous thing since they don’t believe they have an eating disorder. However, there is a separate category called ENDOS, as seen in the article: “Whatever behaviors do not fit in either of those diagnoses are considered EDNOS, or Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.” This shows me that even if you don’t fit into the anorexia/bulimia category, there is a category that is a mild version, but still equally dangerous. Thinspo image encourage all types of eating disorders, even ENDOS.

My last article of research was named “Art Exhibit: “Thirty-Two Kilos” at the Goethe-Institut Washington”. This article explained artist’s Al Miners photographs of overly thin women. Most of the photographs had been digitally altered to show the horror of anorexia. However, these image were posted on to pro-ana websites as a source of thinspiration. Miner was in a state of shock:”"It was a real shock for me," says Miner who has shot commercial fashion photography for European magazines. "It's important for people to know that every teenager can get this information on the Internet." This shows me that no matter what, thinspo blog owners will never quit what they're doing, since their weight is never satisfying.

In conclusion, thinspiration is an extremely dangerous thing. It lowers girls self esteem, and makes them want to lose weight in dangerous ways. Pro-ana websites can start eating disorders in young girls, and motivate them to keep going. Eating disorders is not a lifestyle, it is a mental illness. The followers of these sites should realize this, and most of all, learn to love their bodies, not matter what size.

Works Cited:

1.Udovitch, Mim."Secret Society of the Starving". NYTimes. September 8, 2002. March 29, 2012.

2. Head, Jacqueline. "Seeking Thinspiration". BBC.CO.UK. August 8, 2007. March 29, 2012.

3. "Skinny Celebreties drive one in five eleven year olds to diet". April 21, 2007. March 29, 2012.

4.Gallucci, Jaclyn. "Not Pro-Ana:The Online Sisterhood of Eating Disorders".Long Island Press. December 1, 2010. March 29, 2012.

5. Beckman, Rachel. "Art Exhibit: "Thirty-Two Kilos" at the Goethe-Institut Washington" Washington Post. January 8, 2009. March 29, 2012.

6. Image: