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The Dangers Of Thinspiration


Pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia content online can have a devastating impact on people's lives. If you are affected by anything contained within this article, you can access various support services by following the links at the end of this article.

In the darkest corner of the internet lurks a trend called “thinspiration,” a pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia movement designed to inspire, as suggested by the name of the movement, young adults to develop an eating disorder and become dangerously thin.

It doesn’t help that such posts, which may carry a frightening message such as “Feet together, thighs apart” or even something as blunt as “Stop eating,” are equated with health and beauty. Twenty million American women have some form of eating disorder, and it’s safe to assume that these photos on social media, which essentially glamorize disease, are somewhat to blame.

Parents have no way of knowing what their child is being exposed to online. Even a review of their search history or texts is futile; history can be cleared and texts deleted. Similar to the pages promoting eating disorders, there is also a terrifying underbelly of the internet that encourages cutting, self-harm, and even suicide.

The most recent example of this is the sinister Blue Whale Challenge, which has been linked to over one hundred suicides so far. Started in Russia, the challenge implores people to take a series of thirty tasks; participants are first instructed to post a picture of a blue whale on their Instagram account, then to carve a whale into their arm, and the finally to film themselves committing suicide, often by hanging.

Young people may turn to drastic measures like this due in part to social media. Kids as young as middle school are being cyber-bullied with rapidly increasing frequency. Since no place is ever safe from the torture they experience online, they see suicide as their only escape.

Some social media sites have taken steps to prevent this, by flagging and deleting inappropriate or offensive comments, but online bullies are inventive. It’s impossible to monitor every move that kids and teens make online, but by educating them on how to use the internet in a healthy, positive, and most importantly, kind way, teen eating disorder and suicide statistics will fall.

If you are affected by any type of online related problem we can help! Check out our Cyberbullying and Digital Abuse Help Center or visit our Total Access Support section to find out the various ways we can help you with your problem. For more information about Cybersmile and the work we do, please explore the suggestions below.

Alexa Curtis is the Founder of Media Impact and Navigation for Teens (MINT). MINT is a nonprofit concerned with helping teens to navigate the unique challenges presented by the digital age.