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
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.