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Eating disorders still glamorized on Pinterest, despite TOS change

Search results for thinspo

You may have recently read reports of the alarming number of Thinspo boards on Pinterest.

Short for “Thinspiration,” the term “Thinspo” is commonly used as a term of endearment by people who define themselves as pro-eating disorder. Other terms of endearment are “Ana” (anorexia) and “Mia” (bulimia).

The pro-Ana and pro-Mia movements have been around for as long as the Internet has been a household name. There are support networks throughout social media in which those who suffer eating disorders encourage and provide tips on how to become or stay thin.

Last week Pinterest updated its Terms of Service to ban Thinspo boards and images. However, a simple search on Pinterest reveals that community members are still posting thinspo photos. The bodies are mostly women, and while a good number do appear to be at a healthy weight, there are plenty of photos of ribcages, collarbones and spines.

Now I’m about to get personal.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me, but I have struggled with bulimia since college. So I have a good idea of what these women are going through. Eating disorders are very much an addiction. There is a rush to an eating disorder that you literally feel in your head. It is a euphoric feeling of control.

Unfortunately that feeling comes at a price. Heart damage, tooth decay and even problems with the reproductive system are among the many results of eating disorders.

Then there’s Terri Schiavo. You may know her as the woman who lost all brain

Terri Schiavo, killed by an eating disorder

function and became a public spectacle when her husband and her parents fought over whether or not to keep her on a feeding tube.

Few talk about how Schiavo entered a persistent vegetative state in 1991. In fact, she collapsed from a potassium imbalance brought on by an eating disorder.

March 31 will be the seventh anniversary of Schiavo’s death. She spent 14 years in a vegetative state – after years of trying to survive on liquids, throwing up after meals, and doing other things in an effort to lose weight. It is the greatest tragedy of this case, and it should be told to every person. Because eating disorders do kill.

If you are a Pinterest community member, you can help put a stop to Thinspo offenders by reporting every photo you see that glamorizes eating disorders. Pinterest is a largely community-policed site right now, and we must all work together to educate one another, and also love one another no matter what shape our bodies are in.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, there is help available to you. For more information, visit The Eating Disorder Foundation.

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  • Stephanie Potter
    March 28, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Thank you for sharing this very personal information for the sake of a cause that you love. As with any addiction, I think we need to remember that “there but by the grace of God go I” and try to have so much compassion for these people. Compassion means not judging, but it also means standing up for them against their addiction, and removing from them anyone or anything that encourages them to continue, or sadly even idolise, their addiction.

    I also didn’t know this important information about Terri Schiavo. A great tragedy!
    Stephanie Potter recently posted..Stuff Parents SayMy Profile

    • Bellesouth
      March 28, 2012, 3:51 pm

      I absolutely agree. There is no room for combativeness in this debate. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Michelle Dixon March 28, 2012, 5:14 pm

    I had no idea that Pinterest even had boards like that or groups like that! Then again, I rarely look at Pinterest….

    I think I’ll be making a special trip there JUST TO look for photos/etc to report, even if that makes me sound lame.

    Thanks for the info!

    • Bellesouth
      March 28, 2012, 5:22 pm

      Thanks for reading Michelle! The things I have seen…. I can’t even share. I know a lot of people who developed eating disorders after watching stories of others on talk shows, etc. Even if it’s to show what’s being shared I don’t want to indirectly provide tips!

  • fracturedgirl March 28, 2012, 11:52 pm

    I found it easier to just write a thing up on my Tumblr that way I can post it in reply when necessary so I don’t gotta keep reexplaining things over and over again.

    I get where people are coming from, and I realize it’s out of concern for the most part, but there are also a lot of Concern Trolls going out heaping abuse on already emotionally sensitive and damaged people. These Concern Trolls think they are helping, but they are causing more damage. Kind words work better, though they don’t work magic. It takes time, and lots of understanding.

    I appreciate that those of you here are the compassionate type.
    There are lots of books about EDs out there. I keep buying them, reading them, hoping they’ll help me. So far, I just have a better understanding of the history, how it develops in various ways, the various theories, and I’m able to provide encouragement to others. Hypocritically, though, I keep destroying myself. Then again, we’re all like that in the communities. We all seem to care so much for each other, but many of us hate ourselves. Not really our bodies or weight, but there is something intrinsic in us we hate. Click my “website”, read my posting for an understanding of where I’m coming from. It’s a rambly post, and kinda disjointed, but I tried to make sense with it.

    • Bellesouth
      March 31, 2012, 5:11 pm

      Thank you for coming in and sharing. I am really glad you have pointed out the Concern Trolls. I have seen some less-than-kind responses to some Thinspo posts online, and they don’t help. You have to come with a compassionate approach. So many people who struggle with ED (and I do believe it is a lifetime struggle) are in that place because someone, somewhere, has torn them down. So you want to tear them down again? We need to teach each other to love ourselves and to have healthy approaches to life. Big hugs to you. Going to read your response now.

  • Adrienne
    April 2, 2012, 3:10 pm

    This is thought provoking.
    1. I had no idea that Terri Schiavo had an eating disorder. We should know that!
    2. I am a 30 something mom, and I actively try to be healthy through exercise and eating right. I have a thinspiration board on Pinterest filled with my own motivational stuff. Nothing like this, but I’m not sure I like the connection.
    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Adrienne recently posted..Kids, Allowance, and ChoresMy Profile

    • Bellesouth
      April 2, 2012, 4:38 pm

      Thanks for reading, Adrienne! I’m glad you learned something new today!

  • Sarah
    April 19, 2012, 4:47 pm

    Great post! I have studied that case several times in undergrad and it was always from an ethics and legal perspective. Never once did I know the cause of her PVS. Also, my hat is off to you for sharing your story.
    Sarah recently posted..Repurposing Glass Bowls As PlantersMy Profile

    • Bellesouth
      April 19, 2012, 10:34 pm

      Thanks Sarah! It’s amazing that even in studying the case you didn’t find that info. I think it’s horrible that it was covered up – much so by people who wanted to serve their particular legal interests, sadly.

  • Candace
    April 30, 2012, 8:56 pm

    I had no idea she had an eating disorder. Thank you for sharing this information and bringing light to this issue.
    Candace recently posted..Mother’s Day Pressed Flower FrameMy Profile


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