Thinspiration

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By Julia Gumm

On April 24th, Penn State student Torri Singer began a petition on Change.org to “restrict use of thinspiration language and hashtags circulating the twittersphere.” If you are blessed enough to not know what thinspiration (also known as “thinspo”) is, let me fill you in. Thinspo is an assortment of tips, tricks, diaries and photos all geared to inspire the reader to forgo eating like a normal human being in favor of attaining anorexic-style slimness. Many online thinspiration presences are blatant in their pro-disordered attitudes (known as pro-ana (anorexia) or pro-mia (bulimia) to those in the know). More alarming though, is the thinspiration that poses as reasonable weight loss advice, but is nothing more than an how-to on starvation and image-obsessed behavior.

While I applaud the intentions of folks like Ms. Singer who seek to end the acceptance that thinspo has found online, I think it’s useful to recall the wise words of Richard Buckminster Fuller: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” In that spirit, I thought I’d try a fun little exercise. I looked up some of the most ridiculous thinspo tips I could find, and decided to rewrite them. I used the same guilt tactics, but with healthy eating and body image as the goal I’m gonna shame these suckers into. (Warning: If you suffer from an eating disorder, the following statements may be triggering.)

 

1.) “When you get hungry, think of all the people who made fun of you in high school.”

   Hey, you know that guy who made fun of you in high school for being chubby? Looks like 11th grade was his peak, because now he’s balding and growing a beer gut. He was a jackass then and a jackass now, and if you’re not having lunch today because of some jackass from high school who probably doesn’t even remember your name, welp, you’re verging on jackass yourself. Chow down, friend. Here, have a cookie.

2.) “Starve off the parts you don’t need. They’re ugly and drag you down.”

Crash dieting, limited calories and starvation might seem like great ways to slim down your thighs, but alas, the body is not so selective. When you don’t feed yourself enough, you will eventually digest your own organs like the kidneys, liver, heart and lungs. And guess what kid, you need them. Here, have a cookie.

3.) “Use volumizing shampoos and conditioners to hide hair loss”

Hair and nail growth slow down a ton when there aren’t enough calories in the storehouse to keep ‘em healthy and strong. Nothing short of a wig is gonna help you there. Oh, I mean a wig or eating enough. Here, have a cookie.

4.) “Fat is dirty and hangs on your bones like a parasite”

This obsession you have with attaining a perfectly slim figure hangs on your life like a parasite. It is quite literally eating you alive. Here, have a cookie.

5.) “Thin people look good in any kind of clothes.”

There isn’t a thin person alive who could attempt to rock the dresses Nigella Lawson wears, and she looks absolutely scrumptious while doing so. Here, have a cookie.

6.) “You’ll be able to move as gracefully and skillfully as a spider.”

Uh, spiders are creepy. Who the hell wants to be like a spider? Here, have a cookie.

7.) “Brush your teeth constantly so you won’t be able to eat afterwards.”

Not only does restricted food intake leach the teeth and bones of vital minerals, but if you’re also drinking caffeine or barfing up your meals, your teeth are really about to hit the skids. You may think that brushing your teeth is a cunning way to deter yourself from eating, but in the weak state your chompers are already in, all that brushing can be too abrasive. You might as well hit the Polident sale at your local drugstore now, cuz you gon’ need it! Here, have a cookie.

8.) “Pick one food for the day, like an apple. Slice it into fours. That way you can have one piece for breakfast, one for lunch and one for dinner, with one leftover as a snack.”

Eat whatever you feel like all day, so long as you have breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Just a hint, you don’t actually feel like eating a single apple. I’m on to you. Here, have a cookie.

9.) “I want to be so light a helium balloon could carry me away and lift me into the clouds.”

Aspiring to be so slight that a tall wind could knock you over shows a serious lack of self-esteem. You were born to be here, you deserve to be here, be here. Stand your ground and claim some space for yourself. Don’t let yourself simply float away. Here, have a cookie.

10.) “Wear nail polish to cover up the bluish tinge on your fingernails so people don’t suspect a problem.”

When you don’t eat enough, your blood pressure drops, your circulation gets crappy and your nails thin out, which can lead to a ghastly bluish hue on your fingertips. The cure for this is a club sandwich. Or here, have a cookie.

11.) “Get as much fiber into your diet as you can, while cutting fat and calories.”

When on a reduced calorie diet, the metabolism slows down to a crawl, no matter how much green tea you’re pounding (I told you I was onto you). When your metabolism slows down, digestion slows down, so now food is traveling through your intestines at a snail’s pace, which can lead to constipation. A slow moving colon with a bunch of fiber added to it can cause even worse of a back up and may contribute to long-term digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome! Yay! So eating all that fat burning celery and all those low-cal veggies seems great on one level, but on another, you’re gonna mess up your GI tract something awful. But that’s ok, because between that and the dentures, you’re making great time towards destination geriatric land! Here, have a cookie.

12.) “Eat tissues or toilet paper to fill your stomach up instead of food. It’s what the runway models do.”

Perhaps we need to put instructions on packages of toilet paper, because there is an epidemic of very skinny people who are applying it to the wrong end of the GI tract. Experts think this may be due to impaired brain function caused by lack of proper nutrition. Here, have a cookie.

13.) “Like a plant, the body can be trained to exist on nothing.”

Plants make sugar from energy taken in by the sun. You are not an autotroph. You cannot do that. You have to eat to exist.  Here, have a cookie.

14.) Thanksgiving Dinner Thinspo: “Don’t you want someone to kiss under the mistletoe in a few weeks? Think ahead of time and how amazing your body could be after this meal.”

There is nothing less attractive to truly sexy people than a person who can’t relax and enjoy a great meal. This one time I picked up a really hot guy in a bar because he was impressed that I was devouring a whole rack of ribs. Self-confidence is sexy, and confident people follow their appetites and enjoy themselves. Here, have a cookie.

15.) “When you are hungry, just think of how much better your life will be when you’re thin enough.”

An eating disorder, like many other obsessions, is a device employed by people who are dramatically unhappy with themselves and their lives. If they can stay focused on the goal of “finally” being thin, they can keep happiness off on the horizon, something they’re still working towards. It frees them from the real work of accepting themselves and enjoying life now. What they aren’t seeing is that being thin can’t make anyone truly happy. Once they discover that, they are likely to set the goal post deeper and deeper into more dangerous, extreme territory as a means of acquiring “perfection.” Here, have a cookie.

In all seriousness, if you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, there is help available. Go to nationaleatingdisorders.org to find a support group or therapist near you. And don’t forget to have a cookie. And breakfast, lunch and dinner.

66 Comments

  1. Came for the Gumm, stayed for the cookies.

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  2. Here, have a cookie! Love it, love it!!

    Love your word play Evan.

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  3. I’m eating cookie!
    I need the opposite of volumizing shampoo…ETF! I need to trim my nails often and yes I rock dresses like Nigella.
    Nice post Julia.

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  4. This may sound mean, but if you are so stupid that you buy into this crap, then maybe you get what you deserve. I mean seriously, grow some balls/ovaries and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks. Have some self-respect! Petards.

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    • Tanya, that’s mean, insensitive, and makes no sense. Eating disorders are still a big problem even if the person seriously wants to get better. We all need to tell the people around us that we value them, so they won’t have to get their value from things like this.

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      • I have a lot of sympathy for people who fall into this mindset. It is a natural extension of the popular ideas on body fat. Starvation is so serious, I can’t believe that anyone deserves the consequences.

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    • Tanya, that’s mean, insensitive, and makes no sense. Eating disorders are still a big problem even if the person seriously wants to get better. We all need to tell the people around us that we value them, so they won’t have to get their value from things like this.

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    • I dunno. We all buy into some crap or other along the way. It’s kinda hard not to when the culture at large promotes images of beauty that are nearly impossible to attain without super strict self-control. I fell into into it when I was a teen. Lesson learned. But I betcha I’d not have done it if I didn’t get the impression that my totally average frame was a bloated disaster. Probably better to promote myriad images of beauty than tear down people for their insecurities.

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      • Also, it’s not just about individual decisions. There is so much carrying on in the media about how fat we all are while surrounded by airbrushed images of freakly proportioned high maintenance people who spend $$$ and have plastic surgery to achieve “a look.”

        Even at the everyday level, a lot of us have either been fat shamed, or if thin then food shamed over our healthy appetites. It’s hard to digest a good lunch at work if you are in a hostile environment because all the women cranky because they are in perpetual diet mode.

        Julia,
        What you wrote about obsessions at the end is spot on.

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    • It’s not stupid to “buy into this crap”. Plenty of people, but especially young women, have body image issues sprinkle in a little depression and/or decreased value of self, and what was once a quest to “look hott for prom/wedding/halloween” on a crash diet can manifest itself as a full blown eating disorder. As a female who suffers from slight body dismorphia & can slip easily into disordered eating habits, this is very insulting. I have self-respect and a good amount of self confidence & worth, but that doesn’t mean everyday I wake up and think “damn girl, you’re fine!” It doesn’t mean that if I look in the mirror and notice bloating, I don’t want to work-out extra or attempt to avoid foods that will bloat me. I have never been overweight a day in my life, but I am concerned with getting fat. Actually, I cried as an elementary student when I weighed over 70lbs at nearly 5′. So, no these girls don’t deserve it. They need help and for people to realize it’s not weak, it’s the realities of our society placing so much value on appearance.

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    • It’s really easy to buy into this crap when you are told as a growing toddler (normal roundness before babyfat melts away naturally) that you are fat…..and even little kids know that fat is unacceptable. Still carrying that into childhood, prepuberty roundness, teen and young adult with endless comments. And then boyfriend/husband (when I am now normal weight but don’t believe it) he says if I just worked out a little I could tone up. Huh? Viewing too many air brushed photos and anorexic actors to know that girlfriend/wife is perfectly normal. So once again the little girl inside is still looking to be perfect to be accepted. Finally at age 57 is effing the diets. Got fatter as side effect. Still working on the acceptance of body as is and HOPING it will reclaim it’s power to create the body I was designed to have naturally….and a couple times did when I didn’t get in the way.

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  5. It’s really sad that girls fall into this kind of a pit…but it’s not surprising. It’s all programmed into them by tv/movies by the time they’re 7 or 8. There is similar programming for boys, with the twist that they need to be as big and muscular as possible, while ALSO having single digit bodyfat.

    Keep sharing your cookies with the world, Julia!

    p.s. Nigella Lawson…wow!

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  6. Is that Nigella Lawson before or after her weight loss? She went on a diet, hypnosis, and had facial plastic surgery.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2192015/Nigella-Lawson-shows-incredible-weight-loss-figure-hugging-black-outfit.html
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2311504/Nigella-Lawson-used-hypnotherapy-help-shed-stone-dramatic-weight-loss.html
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9216950/Nigella-Lawson-surgery-is-the-secret-of-my-weight-loss-but-only-for-my-bunions.html
    Someone please give Lawson a cookie, an actual cookie.
    Also what about people who weigh over 250lbs? Doesn’t someone need to say, that’s not healthy?

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    • I assume that picture was from before her weight loss, which, as the pictures in your article indicate, still left her will a much more sizeable frame than most celebrities.So much so that for a recent photo shoot to promote her new TV show, the network tried to airbrush her tummy, but she wouldn’t allow it. Also, the hypnosis you cited was reported by an unnamed source to the Daily Mail…and that’s all the proof there is. And what facial surgery are you talking about, she had bunion surgery. That’s on her feet.

      I don’t care if Lawson lost a bit of weight or stayed where she was, I’m posting that as proof that a dress like that looks good on someone with more heft. Picture Mary Kate Olson in that dress. No dice.

      And I suppose someone, as in everyone, is saying that weighing over 250 pounds is generally not healthy. But this particular piece was about the dangers of “thinspiration.”

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        • Right. Well, as a person who has spent some time on planet Earth in recent years, I’d beg to differ.

          Why don’t I post about over eating? Because I posted about thinspiration. Why don’t you leave a comment about the destruction of the rainforest? Because you’re talking about Nigella Lawson’s hair loss. See, we can talk about whatever we want, it doesn’t mean that other problems don’t exist.

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        • People who over eat do so as a natural side effect of under eating. The body takes over and says, “WE WILL EAT NOW whether you like it or not.” Yes, they are out of control…the body took over to ensure survival. Yes, survival.

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    • My favorite Nigella quotes from the last article link (about bunion surgery, yes, really):

      “When you film you get so tired, and there’s something about lack of sleep and stress that just makes me put on weight even though my eating doesn’t change,” she said. “It’s very annoying, and like someone has taken a bicycle pump to me.”

      (There’s a lot of truth to this. ^^^^)

      Lawson said such mantras were a personal choice. “I remember Elizabeth Hurley once said, ‘It’s either the cookie jar or the size six jeans’. Well, fair enough. She would rather the size six jeans, I would rather the cookie jar.

      “In the end, you make that choice. If wearing certain clothes matters most to you, then that is going to be your priority, whereas I could probably do that for two days but my real priority is eating.”

      Nigella is freakin’ awesome!

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      • Agreed Beth, there is a lot of truth to what she says about stress and weight. I’d go one further and say that even if my eating decreases, it’s like someone takes a bicycle pump to me.

        And yeah, I was going to mention that about her hair. Hair loss can come from a number of factors, genetics, stress and diet all having roles. But I don’t think we’re saying that everyone with thinning hair is just totally unhealthy, are we?

        I think Nigella is pretty cool, but it’s true that I’m not trying to promote role models. Just showing a different side of the coin. It can be tough looking at clothes that won’t look good on you. It can be a lot easier to be built like a clothes hanger in many instances. It’s great seeing clothes that flatter other body types.

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        • I love seeing clothes that flatter different body types. I still think Nigella looks hot though. ;)

          My body does the same thing when I eat too little. I have edema and a day of eating LOTS of good, dense food can help me to flush 3-4 lbs of water. I just cant seem to get rid of ALL the edema though. My hormones and lack of sleep play into it, I think.

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          • Oh yeah and stress plays into too! Stupid stress.

    • That website is advertising for hair regrowth treatments! Besides, the back of my head has always looked like that. It’s from a cowlick caused by a bump on my head.

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      • Why wouldn’t they mention her hair? It’s a hair website. What are they supposed to be reporting people who don’t use condoms? Here is another one. http://www.hair-solved.com/the-hidden-link-between-poor-diet-and-hair-loss.html. Oops my bad its another hair website, WAIT I forgot their wrong.
        Seriously your using fb for proof of how good she looks? Show me a person who post bad fb pictures. Do you?

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        • Wow! You’ve got a real boner for this, huh? Ok, so I don’t think that picture or any of the other pictures I dutifully Googled show any dramatic hair loss. But listen, even if they do, that’s not really my point. My point is that Nigella Lawson, a famous person who people can recognize, wears dresses that look great on fuller figured women. Thus refuting the bit of thinspo nonsense that “all clothes look good on thin people.” Not so. All 1950’s style dresses and swimsuits and such look like crap on thin people. I could have just as much posted a pic of a regular housewife from 1955, but I thought I’d keep it contemporary. And it’s not so much that it’s a hair website that you referenced, as it’s a website trying to get you to buy their hair replacement products, just like the second link you provided. It isn’t their job to “report” anything, condoms or what have you. It’s their job to make you look at a picture and go “Oh hey, I look like that too, by George, I need hair replacement therapy!”

          I’m not using Facebook as proof of how “good” she looks, rather, I’m using Facebook as proof of how relatively fat she looks. Fat in a good way. Can’t make that up, I doubt she stuffed her dress in all the wrong places. But let me reiterate, whether or not Nigella Lawson went on an unfortunate diet that made her lose some hair is like, entirely not the point of what I wrote here. I’m sorry if you felt that it was. Perhaps you’re upset because I stated my personal affection for her? Look, the dame can cook! Look at her Facebook, that food is like porn!

          Do I post bad pictures of myself of Facebook? I dunno, there’s one close up of me with a make-shift mascara beard smeared all over my face and my mouth hanging open, but I think I look pretty good, actually.

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          • It actually is the point. She went on a diet and is now losing her hair. You picked someone who isn’t healthy and compared to the thinspiration. I am actually sick of people using her a healthy role model, when she isn’t.

          • No. I picked someone who is not skinny to represent how good a certain kind of dress looks on someone who is not skinny. I didn’t advocate her diet, I actually have no clue what it is besides what she posts on her Facebook feed. I’m not promoting role models. I’m promoting a dress. I have doubts as to how unhealthy she is, based on what you’ve presented, but her business is not the point. If people are looking at this and thinking I should tell them to be EXACTLY like Nigella Lawson instead of EXACTLY like Kate Moss, than I guess we’ve gotten to the crux of the problem now, haven’t we? People should be like themselves. And if they happen to be bigger than Kate Moss, hey look, you could maybe rock that red dress. Just one example.

          • Julia, i work in the business since many years and Kate Moss was one of the kids that eats their hearts out and do gain a gram.
            And you can see it in her face, she was glowing.
            Women and girls who diet lose that glow, they look haggard, stressed out, maybe not in the beginning , but at some point it starts.. So it is not a question if you are skinny or fat , but
            starving or not.

          • Ok. Well, Kate Moss is famed for living by the self-professed motto “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and for using cocaine. So maybe she is a tad extreme in her attempts to stay thin. Perhaps not starving to death, but still someone who goes to the edge to keep weight off.

          • On looking good: remember Trinny and Susannah of “what not to wear?” They always look good and they have even done shows while pregnant.

            Here is an episode that proves the point that the tall thin model type of figure is not always easy to clothe.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlVu-5DKqpE

          • Hey Kelly, if the story about the hair loss is true, wasn’t it supposedly caused by weight loss dieting, so doesn’t that back up everything Julia is saying on that subject? If she’d continued accepting herself as she was, she’d still have all her hair.
            She was a healthy role model, but someone got to her and she had a thinspiration.
            the hair loss might have had more to do with low thyroid – the body slowing down to conserve those vital energy reserves – than with vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
            ” was later reported that she had been following the Bodyism Clean and Lean plan – a healthy eating programme devised by James Duigan, personal trainer and nutritional advisor to models Elle Macpherson and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and actor Hugh Grant.

            An integral part of the plan is taking a selection of Duigan’s powerful Bodyism health supplements, taking a cocktail of vitamins, minerals and fish oils that help to burn fat and fight cravings.

            Meals on the Clean and Lean diet plan include plenty of fresh fish, lean meat including skinless turkey and chicken, and fresh, preferably organic vegetables.”

            Have a cookie, Nigella.

    • Kelly,

      That’s a biased article. How do you know the picture wasn’t photoshopped to sell tabloid magazines (or hair grow products!)?

      And..even if she had thinning hair, how do you know it wasn’t because of all the stress she was going through when she was launching her new show? She gave a quote about all the stress involved in one of your articles you posted.

      I think you don’t like Nigella for some reason or another. And that you somehow know for sure that when she lost weight, she wrecked her health. And that current Facebook pictures of her aren’t real.

      Many celebrities are super-thin and I think it was wise of Julia to use a picture of Nigella in this article. She really DOES rock that red dress and is a beautiful woman (in her 50s, I think too!) who is NOT at a very unattainable, metabolism-wrecking looking size…even after losing some weight. She’s an awesome role model. And she cooks great-looking food too!

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  7. :)))) I want an option on Pinterest to keep the thinspiration crap off my feed.. I thought I was the only one annoyed by it..

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    • Me too, Skye!

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  8. For some reason while reading this article, all I can think of is that classic line from John Candy’s The Great Outdoors: “Are you going to eat that piece of fat?..You won’t win, unless you eat that piece of fat”! LOL!

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  9. I had an eating disorder and didn’t even go to these lengths. I’m sorry but the day you resort to eating tissues must be a low one.

    And if someone is at the point where they are covering up hair loss and blue fingernails, they ave passed the point of attractive thinness and probably are in need of in-patient treatment, and inside they know it.

    I think a better approach with the masses may be driving in how UN-attractive starvation actually looks when you are half-bald and have dark circles under your eyes and stuff. A little extra on the thighs is nothing compared to that.

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    • I know a hundred tricks to being thin, but where is the imaginary line in the sand that indicates that I have gone too far? It is extraordinary how self-destructive a person subjected to starvation become, and you can’t know what depths you will sink to if you flip that switch.

      I think it would be insightful to take recommendations from popular authors like Jillian Michaels to highlight how mainstream society has gone crazy. It’s a little too easy to dismiss the advice of the online anorexics.

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      • That’s exactly it. Where is the line? There are so many people who are revered as as healthy role models who eat sub 1200 cals daily, and hey, didn’t Matt post an actual video of Jillian Michaels promoting a tooth brush? And wasn’t one of her persuasions that bit about brushing your teeth to deter eating?

        Eating tissues to fill up may seem crazy, but the effects are the same as barfing or simple starvation. It all seems crazy, but it’s an addictive compulsion and gateway drugs are all over the place, parading as sensible advice.

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    • That is mean. The woman is dying.

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  10. I have a lot of friends that post thinspo stuff, but they don’t go that far into actual eating disorder land- “eat tissues to feel full”- they absolutely recognize that as anorexic thinking. I kinda wish you would’ve addressed the blurrier thinspo posts like, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, or “Unless you puke, faint, or die- keep going!” or The Rules of Skinny like “Go to bed hungry,” “No carbs after lunch,” or “Your legs aren’t giving out, your mind is giving up, so keep going.” These perpetuate the idea that you have to beat your body into submission and it doesn’t know what’s good for you.

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    • You’re right, there is a lot of advice out there that parades as rational that is indeed just out of hand self control. I think I did a decent potpourri of thinspo flavors, though. Eating a lot of fiber and cutting fat while dreaming of looking hot in cute clothes is pretty standard “I wanna lose weight” fare. But point taken. This reads like the anti-smoking PSA’s that show the guy missing a lung, talking out of a stoma, rather then showing yellow teeth and bad breath. But, no one gets into smoking for the stoma. Same as eating disorders. Then one day, bam. You’re hungry and you’re eating toilet paper. It happens, evidently.

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  11. Wow, Julia. I’ve always run away from thinspo and even fitspo (yuck), so I hadn’t have the chance to read all that crap, and well, it made me cry. As in real tears.
    But it kinda gives me hope because someone, somewhere has to react and to say how wrong all this is. Like you, for example.

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  12. You can never be too thin, or too rich – Yeh, ask Whitney Houston about that one….

    The saddest thing is, these girls haven’t learned that their value as a human being is not just what their body looks like – they have low self-esteem. The girls who are living for a higher purpose don’t fixate on food, and don’t fall into diet addiction.

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  13. Being fat isn’t something a woman will wish upon her self.
    All of us got a weight they look good at and except for damaged minded people
    it is usually in the healthy limits. Good for our hearts, mobility and rest.
    Some are outside their limits and it usually comes( for most of the folks on that site) after years
    of self abuse trough orthorexia. Slowed down metabolism, slow thyroid, constipation.. long list.
    How to get well is first, but being well it often mean a weight regulation, a natural one.
    As for body types, for fuck sake will this stop one day? we got different ones, i like
    more masculine ones, more strong and agile, you like more of renaissance curves..
    It is all good as long it is not sick,starving, tortured, obsessed.

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    • I am with ya. Love those muscles!

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    • Hey Elina, I do hope you understand that I’m not promoting one body type over another. Indeed, I am keen on renaissance curves, but we’re all not so lucky. I think beauty can be found in all shapes and sizes. Positive body image for all should be the goal.

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  14. On body types: Before the 20th century, consistent in western art across the millennia is a particular body type considered the ideal feminine beauty. This body type is the full figured hourglass pear shaped body. If you google images for paintings of Venus, you will see this recurrent theme.

    I think that all body types have their beauty, but this consistency is curious and totally opposite what we see today.

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    • Pink, this was quite understandable in an era when most women started their first pregnancy at about 16 or earlier, bore about 6 or 7 children and often died in the process. Even in the 20th century, my grandmother (born in 1907) had 11 brothers and sisters who reached adult age, and a few died not long after birth. For this type of exercise it is best to have a full body and wide hips.

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  15. I really like the format of this post- including how extreme the thinspo quotes are. Because I think when you’re manically obsessed over anything, and small (seemingly healthy) measures don’t work at first, people tend to do whatever it takes. And we live in a “whatever it takes” kind of society, which is unfortunately an attitude that is reserved for the standard successes (job, money, power, etc) rather than the true well-being of other people. Not to say that NO ONE feels that way, it’s just not the standard (yet).

    I forget who said this, and I don’t remember it verbatim, but it’s something to the effect of “girls should be more concerned about what their lives feel like rather than what they look like.” It makes me wonder why and how our ideals got so shifted, and the underlying causes. It’s a little scary to consider that we (definitely including myself) will become so preoccupied with creating bodies, occupations, hobbies, and families that fit an ideal that we wind up ignoring our inner lives.

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    • Isn’t it sad? I could be wrong, but the body image obsession seems to be a Western world thing, maybe because most of us are privileged. Even people who are ‘poor’ by Western standards are much better off than those in third world countries. When I visited Africa, I didn’t meet one women who gave a rats ass about her body size. They are more concerned about feeding their families. I felt so stupid for constantly worrying about how big my thighs looked. I grew up in a white upper class environment where I didn’t have much to worry about, so I focused on my weight. I’m just thinking out loud and I could be completely wrong.

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      • in their essence…eating disorders have nothing to do with “body image obsession”…

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  16. I love this article Julia, thankyou, and please keep writing. Am sharing.

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  17. What may work against the thinspiration culture would if all boys and men send out posts, tweets, etc. that they find too thin girls not to be attractive. Or do those girls already know this and do it to “impress” other girls?

    I need some formulation help. I cannot find a good slogan.

    Just writing “thin is not attractive” is not true for many men, it should be something denoting “too thin”.
    It is not sexy to only eat salad #saladnotsexy (but girls eating one apple a day will think they are save)
    Skeletons are ugly #skeletonsugly (but probably anorexia (wannabees) do not see themselves as skeletons)
    Pornstars have some meat on their bones #pornmeat (but probably not suited for half of the men)
    Women should look like women #womanwoman (?)

    If we find a good formulation, we could generate a global #outcry.

    Reply
  18. Hi Matt,

    I really hope you read this and respond because I am at a loss. I suffer from anorexia, but am trying to recover (on my own). It’s very tough, especially with conflicting information on health and nutrition. Recently, my whole philosophy on food has been shaken…sugar isn’t the problem? White rice could, in fact, be better than brown rice? etc. etc.
    I cannot afford to seek individualized help from you, but could you tell me which one of your books would help with raising my metabolism (and normalizing my weight). I know my metabolism is slow…(you can be thin with a low metabolism)…I’m always cold, lots of mouth ulcers, constipated, etc. etc. Thanks so much. I appreciate what you’ve done here…

    And a word to the commentators: If you don’t know anythnig about eating disorder. Keep. your. mouth. shut.

    Reply
    • Diet Recovery 2 is the best to read. When it comes to deciding what to eat, what matters most is prioritization. The priorities for someone recovering from an eating disorder are simple to get adequate calories, carbohydrates, salt, and other basics. All other nutritional matters are sacrificed in order to obtain adequate amounts of those essentials. You have plenty of time later in life to clean up your diet and eat nutritious food. But right now, nutritious, whole, unprocessed foods are too difficult to eat and digest in the quantities that you need to heal. Easier said than done of course, as what you battle is a constant tug of war in your mind on a minute-to-minute basis. Best of luck. I will be here to help you in any way I can, including speaking with you live if needed at no charge.

      Reply
  19. It may sound cheesy, but your message really made me feel better. Thank you for the recommendation, but mostly for the compassion.

    I may take you up on that offer sometime.

    Much love.

    Reply
  20. Thinspiration is widely misunderstood for most of the people. There is a new thinspiration discussion forum that grows and is meant to help thinspo girls connect altogether. You can join the discussion here http://www.thinspiration.me/forums/

    Reply
  21. #5 — For proof, check out like every vintage dress pattern reprint model photo. XD I don’t know why vogue and simplicity don’t hire models who fit the dresses.

    Reply
  22. So, so true. Especially this part:

    >>An eating disorder, like many other obsessions, is a device employed by people who are dramatically unhappy with themselves and their lives. If they can stay focused on the goal of “finally” being thin, they can keep happiness off on the horizon, something they’re still working towards. It frees them from the real work of accepting themselves and enjoying life now. What they aren’t seeing is that being thin can’t make anyone truly happy. Once they discover that, they are likely to set the goal post deeper and deeper into more dangerous, extreme territory as a means of acquiring “perfection.” Here, have a cookie.<<

    This was my story. Once I got to my "goal weight" and was still unhappy I kept going lower and lower…

    Reply

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