Written by Kemea Smith
Thinspiration blogs are on the rise even as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week ends.
Type in thinspiration on the popular Tumblr blog site and you’re most likely to see pictures of thin girls with tiny shorts, tight bikini tops and striking hipbones. The photos provide the backdrop for phrases such as “it’s ok to starve” and “the skinnier the better.” Usernames like “thin-is-me” and “iwanttobemodelthin” hint at each blogger’s intention to achieve this.
Thinspiration blogs (also known as thinspo) have been a part of the internet since 2001, and have grown more prevalent on major blog sites such as Tumblr and BlogSpot in the recent year. Essentially these pro ana (pro anorexic) blogs showcase the thoughts and emotions of young women who are dying to be thin. Women as young as fourteen from California to Australia create these blogs, ultimately building an online community.
Bridge D’Urso, the director of the Women’s Resource Center at Portland State University, says “media, media, media” is the reason why young adults feel the need to be thin. “I think we receive a massive bombardment of messages about what beauty looks like [with a] very narrow depiction of an acceptable woman’s body,” says D’Urso. According to The Renfrew Foundation for Eating Disorders, the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females. D’Urso adds that “the norm has gotten even thinner,” compared to her days of idolizing Madonna and Olivia Newton John. Victoria Secret model Karlie Kloss and other thin models are seen in thinspo blogs. Bloggers applaud and compliment their figures with a hint of jealousy.
Scrolling down further into the depths of thinspo reveals a string of advice on dieting. One of the recommended diets is the “abc diet,” also known as anorexic boot camp. The diet entails eating less than the average 2,000 calorie intake, with periodic fasting. One blogger writes, “I want to rip out my stomach and throw it as far away as I can,” after eating a bag of chips. Some girls fight through their stomach’s grumblings and come out of the abc diet 25 pounds lighter, yet with lower self-esteem.
Caroline Brown, a freshman at Portland State University, shares that a former friend of hers “ate so little…and lost a lot of weight.” Brown continues, saying “I think she got so obsessed with being a picture of athleticism.”
“I’ve never seen anything mentioned about eating disorders, like in any of the health stuff we’ve gotten” says Alice Knowles, another freshman at Portland State University. Knowles believes that Portland State University should offer more information, especially for students who have to eat at the dorm’s dining hall. One blogger mentions that she gained all the weight she had lost for her prom, once she came to college: “I’m disgusting. College has gotten the worst of me.” According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as one in ten college women suffer from a clinical or nearly clinical eating disorder.
“I do think that there is room for more explicit wellness campaigns,” says D’Urso, adding that the Women’s Resource Center has created a Love Your Body Action Team. The Team developed because so many students wanted to be involved in activism around the issue of body image. D’Urso believes “it is such a complex issue and so relevant to our life.”
*To learn more about and participate in the Love Your Body Action team at Portland State University, visit the Women’s Resource Center at 1802 SW 10th & Montgomery.
*If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
Bridge D’Urso - firstname.lastname@example.org
Caroline Brown- 503-400-1364
Alice Knowles- 240-357-8384