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Thinspo exposed: pro-anorexia Pinterest boards

The Pinterest boards labeled Thinspo, short for “thinspiration,” are meant to be motivational to women desiring weight loss. Some of them have healthy dieting and exercise plans or images of toned, muscular women, but the majority is “pro-ana,” which is the Internet shorthand term for “pro-anorexia.”

The images on the pro-ana boards contain emaciated, skeletal women, mostly without showing faces, with little motivational or jealous notes accompanying them, like “I would give anything to be this skinny.” In addition to the photos, there are also tips for how to avoid eating that range from drink water to fasting every other day, and motivational notes for why people should not eat.

There have been pro-ana blogs and message boards for years, as well as other social networking platforms with eating disorder positive images. A simple search yields hundreds of pro-ana blogs and forums, with some labeled as “support groups,” but many of those are supportive in the sense that it gives them a sense of community to trade tips with.

On one of those sites, called My Pro-ana, most users have their current height, weight, measurements, and all of their weight goals before reaching the ultimate one, with dates when one is achieved, listed in their signatures so they appear every time they make a post. Most of the goal weights are below 100 pounds, and the starting weights are frequently below 150.

“Your stomach is only the size of a fist, so it takes just a handful to fill it comfortably,”

Tumblr changed their user policy in 2012 to ban everything pro-ana, and to instead redirect anyone using a pro-ana search term to information on how to seek help. According to “The scary, weird world of Pinterest thinspo boards,” a 2012 article on Jezebel.com, Facebook was also working with the National Eating Disorder Association to do something similar. While these policy changes will help remove the pro-ana content from those sites, there are still hundreds of sites completely dedicated to promoting eating disorders.

“Every time you say ‘I don’t care’ and eat the cookie, there is a 100% you’ll care later,”

Smartphone apps have also become a resource for those with eating disorders, since they allow sufferers to keep better track of their calorie intake, measurements, and weight goals. On My Pro-ana, a member gave her top three favorite apps, all of which were free, including one that will play music to its user when it is told the user is hungry, and the music is supposed to take away the cravings; the user stated it worked well for her.

The app is called “Eating Thin,” and a hypnotherapist from Indiana to help people eat healthier by using this program to avoid craving junk food created it; while the My Pro-ana user said it was free, the app is now $2.99.

Another app this user posted about gives its user a questionnaire every day inquiring about the eating habits they have done for that day, and it then gives the person a score of how well they are doing at restricting their diet. It can be set to give the user a reminder to take the test at the same time daily, and it tracks their scores for them. This app is called “Skinny Jeans… at Last!” and according to its description in Google Play, it is intended to help people who have had gastric bypass surgery adjust their eating habits.

“Never eat after 7 p.m,”

A therapist and her interactions with an anorexic patient inspired the article “how cell phones are fueling anorexia,” on thefix.com, is written by. In the article she explains that her patient would not set her phone down for any reason, because she was “obsessed with the dozens of calorie-conscious apps she [had]” on her phone.

Her bathroom scale even sent her weight to her phone so she could track her body mass index. Technology and apps increased this woman’s obsession with her weight, as it has for many other sufferers. Pinterest may be the current dwelling for thinspo, but it began its life long before that on other social media platforms.

“Constantly there’s a voice in my head telling me ‘you’re not skinny enough,’”

The National Eating Disorder Association has a free helpline for those suffering from eating disorders that is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. To 5 p.m. They also offer online conversations for those who are uncomfortable talking about their disorders over the phone.

The helpline number is 1-800-931-2237, and their website is nationaleatingdisorders.org. This is just one of hundreds of groups who are available to help people overcome their eating disorders, and to help friends and family of those suffering from them approach the issue and be supportive.

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for posting this.