Well, here comes a weightier post, but there’s no keeping this from happening. This afternoon, Boy Eat pointed me to a local news report that highlighted the new trend on social media websites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest (well, somewhat new trend). The trend? Thinspiration.
Each day, more and more photos of starved young men and women are on display for pinners. Because I was just that curious, I decided to read up a little on the current debate.
It seems that companies like Facebook and Tumblr are taking a stand to address the spread of thinspiration photos on their websites. The National Eating Disorder Association, in fact, is working with Facebook, Tumblr, and Pinterest, to develop some solutions for the problem.
But, here’s the wild card. Your first amendment right to free speech which includes any form of expression, including photography. But, these are private companies so they have the right to censor their sites as they please.
So, where do we draw the line between honoring artistic creativity and self-expression and protecting the world from the horrible messages these horrific photos send? Perhaps this is the answer.
The National Eating Disorder Association is working to add public interest messages to photos on sites like Pinterest that fall in the category of thinspiration, pro anorexia, or pro bulimia. These public interest messages would pop up every time someone tries to look at one of these disturbing photos.
Sure-people have the right to post what they want. But, if that is the case, perhaps we should use some of our freedom to post whatever we want to cancel out these messages with our own-healthy messages that might not convince every thinspiration follower, but might reach some, even just one.
The point is these photos, which I opted not to post here, because they are so troubling, are the result of a growing problem in the United States and throughout the world. More and more people fall prey to eating disorders every year. In fact, studies show that eating disorders kill too many young people each year. And, for what? To be thin?
In a perfect world, these photos would not exist. In a perfect world, no one would feel like starving yourself to the point of looking malnourished would be the epitome of beauty. In a perfect world, we could all go on Pinterest and pin wonderful things like brownie recipes and backsplash designs for our kitchens, what Pinterest was meant to be, not an avenue to spread these vicious messages of starvation, thinspiration, horrification.
So, I suppose asking Pinterest to take these photos down would be the first step, but that might not happen. If it does not, perhaps we should address these photos ourselves. We should encourage healthy body image. We should encourage healthy eating. We should encourage healthy messages. After all, if Pinterest were to simply take down the photos, we would not know the number of people who are looking for these disturbing images.
So the next time I run across a thinspiration photo perhaps I will leave a comment. Or, maybe at the very least, Girl Eat’s Pinterest board will be full of pictures of healthy women and healthy messages. My hope is that for every healthy photo we post, message we pin, and inspiration we find, someone sees what beauty truly is, and perhaps they decide to try it out for themselves. Now, let’s be clear: a photo of you in your favorite black dress to inspire you to eat healthy. Fine. A message to help keep you motivated on your workout journey. Cool. Photos of men and women who appear starved, even malnourished to promote disorders like anorexia and bulimia to achieve the ultimate goal of thinness? NOT OK.
Send your healthy photos of women, links, news stories, and body image affirmations to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on Pinterest to see my newest board: End Thinspiration. The board is up and running now. Please let me know in the e-mail if you would like the link to be anonymous or if you would like to be credited for sending the link to me. Either option is fine.
Together, we can stop the madness that is thinspiration. Let’s start right now.