“Thinspired” Social Media Causes Trouble For Eating Disorders

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We live in an immensely voyeuristic and exhibitionist world thanks to social media. At first, with a simple post using words of how we were doing, we could create small statements to describe the events of our lives. Next, came photos, opening a new world of possibilities. Soon, we became professionals on the latest news, sharing links, sharing videos, and leaving behind us a digital breadcrumb trail about every aspect of our lives. Today, instant sharing allows people to document every moment of their day and night, letting people in, and showing their lives off.

Social media falls under scrutiny for promoting fake identity and falsism rather than authenticity. There is never a way of knowing the truth behind every photo and post, the pain behind every smile, or the eating disorder and severe body dysmorphia behind every “insta-perfect” body. Numerous “insta-famous” “insta-stars” have come forward about the truth behind their picture perfect looking lives. It takes hours to frame a shot the right way, obsessive takes and retakes, endless editing, and filtering, before that one shot of perfection can be ogled over by millions upon millions of followers. Dangerously, there are the use of hashtags which perpetuate unrealistic and severely unhealthy idealistic standards of perfection and beauty which drive particular populations toward eating disorder behavior. Without understanding the truth behind the image, people are shown just an image and a message: this is how you should look, do whatever it takes to get there, it is worth it.

Hashtags like “thinspo” “fitspo” and others have sparked controversy, in addition to the multiple body “trends” which problematically place a high amount of focus on specific body parts. Professionals have the most worry about pro-eating disorder hashtags and posts in which users encourage one another in their eating disorder behaviors. “For people suffering with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder,” explains a contributing author to Huffington Post, “obsessions over self-image and feelings of shame over eating food consume a person’s daily thoughts and actions.” In addition to documenting every physical achievement, perfect angle, and healthy meal, social media users feel compelled to talk about their version of acceptance– maybe they “indulged” today and ate “bad” thereby “cheating” on their “lifestyle”, but it’s okay, because they will work out and eat clean tomorrow, because that is the meaning of “balance”. “With the multitude of environmental stressors already influencing disordered eating habits, social media has new been added to the list. Now more than ever, since social media is used by individuals of all ages and backgrounds, it has begun to play a larger role in the influence and development of social media.”


Recovering from an eating disorder takes time, patience, compassion, and excellence in care. Providing healing in mind, body, and spirit, the residential treatment programs at Avalon By The Sea are trusted for restoring health and creating a lifetime of recovery. For a confidential assessment and more information, call us today at 888-958-7511.


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