Entries in Thinspiration (2)


Experts, Recovering Anorexics Warn About Dangers of ‘Thinspiration’ Sites

Tom Morello/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There is growing online pro-anorexia, or “pro ana” movement dominated by anorexics who view their quest for extreme thinness as a lifestyle choice rather than an illness, and it has many experts worried.

Thinspiration blogs and content, known as thinspo for short, are used as motivational tools by people who are trying to get dangerously thin. The number of pro ana and pro bulimia sites increased 470 percent in the past two years. One of the top thinspo sites,, receives an average of 280,000 page views per day, according to the web analytics site

Thinspo is dominated by photos, many of them of them depicting skeletal young women and girls with prominent ribs, twig-like limbs and sallow visages. To an outsider, these pictures can be disturbing. To a girl deeply focused on her eating disorder, they can affirm her life choices and further distort her view of what a normal, healthy female body should look like.

Claire Mysko, who manages, the National Eating Disorder Association's online community that offers support for those with eating disorders, said the women who fixate on thinspo content see it as ticket to happiness and acceptance.

While there is a counter-movement to shut thinspo sites down and ban thinspo content, it’s proven hard to enforce.  In 2008, France banned websites that promoted an eating disorder lifestyle or that used common thinspiration hashtags, and several popular social networks are following suit.

Still, a quick trip through any social site with a purported thinspo ban -- particularly Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest -- show that content is visible and thriving. When a site is shut down, it simply sets up shop elsewhere, or finds other ways to circumvent the bans.

"It is very difficult to truly eradicate thinspo because of the nature of the Internet," Mysko said.

Mysko said she thought it may be more effective to counteract the thinspo message with positive alternatives.

"We know people struggling with eating disorders and poor body image are looking to connect with others who know what they are going through," she said. "We need to offer a safe, supportive environment that promotes recovery and helps them disengage from an unhealthy mindset."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


'Thinspiration' Boards on Pinterest Encourage Eating Disorders

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pictures of jutting bones, concave stomachs and toothpick thighs are sprinkled throughout a handful of boards on the visually-driven social networking site Pinterest, providing “thinspiration” for men and women with eating disorders.

Slogans meant to encourage people in the grips of an eating disorder, such as “Whatever you eat in private, you wear in public” and “Make them regret the day they dare called you fat” are printed in fun fonts atop lean, stick-thin bodies.

“It provides community in all the wrong ways. It only seeks to keep people entrenched in self-destructive behavior,” Claire Mysko, coordinator of the National Eating Disorder Association’s Proud2beme website, told ABC News.

Mysko and NEDA reached out to blogging site Tumblr last month and worked with the company to ban pro-eating disorder content. Last year, they worked with Facebook. Mysko said she hopes Pinterest will follow suit.

A spokesperson for Pinterest told ABC News they are looking into the issue and their acceptable use policy in order to determine the best course of action.

The pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia movements, called pro-ana and pro-mia for short, have been on the Web for more than a decade, providing encouragement to men and women who have eating disorders to continue on a path of unhealthy behaviors.

“We are definitely seeing more content on these more mainstream platforms,” Mysko said.

Caitlin Boyle, a healthy-living blogger and author of the book Operation Beautiful, called the messages of the pro-eating disorder movement “thought influencers.”

“The thing I have noticed with these 'thinspiration' sites is it really normalizes distorted behavior,” she said. “It makes the viewer of this content believe their behavior is O.K. and acceptable.”

Boyle started a viral campaign, Operation Beautiful, nearly three years ago to spread positive messages. Since then, anonymous people have sent her pictures of more than 10,000 simple sticky notes in public places spreading life- and body-affirming messages. She said she’d like to see healthier messages prevail on Pinterest and other sites.

“When people view social media sites that are positive, it encourages them to think more like that, even when they leave the site,” she said.  “It can have a positive effect on their self-esteem.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio