To be completely honest and upfront about my feeling on “thinspo” (Thin+ inspirational), I actually have mixed feelings. On one hand, I feel like social media users should be able to share pictures, motivational images, etc. that promotes a lifestyle choice that they have made – to stay thin. Even if some people disagree with the message or think it’s harmful to the minds of impressionable people, I’m not sure that it’s their job to police it. Plus, you don’t see a huge controversy over content that promotes over-eating or over-consumption of alcohol, two activities that also could be deemed unhealthy.
On the other hand, however, I understand how images of skinny girls and motivational phrases like “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” can be dangerous if you put them in the “thinspo” context. Eating disorders are a serious problem, and you can’t really argue that content like this can exacerbate the situation.
Having said all of that, it’s been interesting to watch the commentary roll in from users of Tumblr and Pinterest, two social sites that banned this type of content outright. Tumblr did it first, and Pinterest soon followed suit. Pinterest‘s terms of service were amended to prohibit “pins that explicitly encourage self-harm of self-abuse,” and direct mention was made of the “thinspo” content.
Well, that ban didn’t really work. Pinterest told me that “Pinterest relies on its community to help identify and flag offensive content,” and “once offensive content has been reported, Pinterest reviews it on a case-by-case basis and immediately removes any pin that violates the Terms of Service, Acceptable Use Policy or Pin Etiquette.”
So basically, it’s up to the users to flag content that violates the rules and Pinterest scraps it as they see fit. Fair enough – that’s the policy of many social networking sites. But soon after Pinterest announced the ban, a search for the “thinspo” tag revealed hundreds of pins. And today, a few weeks later, that search still returns images of impossibly thin girls and motivational edicts from those that have “completed the journey,” complete with before and after pics. Once again, my mixed mind about this rears its head. From someone who’s done the whole weight loss thing, congratulations – but oftentimes the message isn’t simply about healthy weight loss.
Anyway, it appears that some Pinterest users are combating the thinspo content by hijacking the tag. A search for thinspo now nets plenty of anti-thinspo content as well. We’re talking pictures of more full-figured women, images with anti-thinspo messages, and more. One particular image is everywhere –
If you can’t read that, it says, “There’s a 0.02% chance she’ll be a teacher. There’s an 81% chance she’ll have dieted by age 10 because she’s afraid of being fat.”
Other anti-thinspo content?
A recent study looked at how Facebook was affect body image. They determined that Facebook might be fueling the fire when it comes to eating disorders. Just over half of those surveyed said that seeing photos of their friends and comparing them to their own photos made them conscious about their body and weight.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be thin and healthy. There’s also nothing wrong with not being a size 0. Eating disorders are bad. These are all things that most people can agree on. For Pinterest users, there’s a debate happening about whether “thinspiration” is actually inspirational, or dangerous.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.[h/t Business Insider] [Lead Image Courtesy]