Critics are lining up to put pressure on Pinterest to rid the site of boards like Thinspo, Thinspiration and Fitspiration. The claim is that the fuel eating disorders and promote anorexia in young women.
Visit the Thinspo board and you’ll find images of ultra thin women, mostly young, that apparently are thin-orexics and have found a place to gain support.
Thinspo is a board filled with mostly selfie pics of women with frail, runway-style body types that are predominantly in workout clothes and bikinis. Many of the pictures are images of women that could easily be described as anorexic.
Here’s a collage of three pictures I found on Thinspo:
Supposedly Pinterest banned the Thinspo boards in 2012 but they are still alive and well if you do a quick search. It may be that members are no longer able to add pins to the boards. I’m not sure about that. I know that I could re-pin the images to my own boards if I chose to so I’m confused about all of the articles I’ve read that tell me Pinterest did away with them last year. They are clearly alive and well.
Pinterest did add this disclaimer to it’s pro-thin boards: Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
Fitspiration Replaces Thinspiration and Thinspo
The latest controversy Pinterest is now facing is over the Fitspiration boards. If you’re seeking inspiration from Pinterest to keep you motivated to get thin, get fit or stay thin and fit, the Fitspiration board supplies nearly the same content as Thinspo and seems to be picking up where the banned Thinspo and the highly controversial Thinspiration boards left off.
Although there is more of an emphasis placed on fitness at the Fitspiration board, most of the pictures are of scantily clad, ultra-fit young women that are attempting to inspire you, the visitor, to look like them.
Here’s a taste of what you’ll find at Fitspiration:
There are also some before and after pictures of people that have lost weight, and pictures of athletic women that look healthy, fit and not extremely thin.
So what’s all of the controversy about?
A study published in the European Eating Disorders Review in October of 2010 has shed some light on what, if any impact, internet sites that promote thinness and eating disorders has on female college students.
In the study, college women with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 18 and with no history of an eating disorder were exposed to either pro-ED websites, healthy/exercise websites or tourist websites for 1.5 hours. The pro-ED website group experienced a significant one-week decrease in caloric intake from pre- to post-exposure. Following exposure, participants reported using techniques on the websites to aid with food reduction and had strong emotional reactions to the websites. These changes persisted for 3 week following the study’s end.
The conclusion: “Even modest exposure to pro-Ed websites may encourage significant changes in caloric intake and increased disordered eating behaviors. By extension, even greater exposure to these websites by at-risk females may contribute to the development of EDs.
An article on Jezebel called “The Scary, Weird World of Pinterest Thinspo Boards” quotes someone from the National Eating Disorders Association as saying this: “Pinterst is a format that’s attractive to the pro-ana community because it’s both visual and highly interactive; young women (and some men) suffering from an eating disorder or teetering on the brink of disorder crave the unique combination of visibility and anonymity offered by the site. Pinterest users can swap photos of their most enviable shoulder blades in a supportive “community” of like-minded people, but because it’s on the internet they can do it from behind the protection of an anonymous handle.”
So the question remains: Are these board on Pinterest increasing disordered eating among young females? And if we decide they are is there really anything that can be done about it?
I’ve looked at many of the pictures on the Thinspo, Thinspiration and Fitspiration boards and I agree that many of the women look too thin and frail and are not the epitome of healthy.
I’m having trouble joining in on the outrage over Fitspiration. If Fitspiration is encouraging women to starve themselves or over-exercise to the point of ruining their health that’s bad. But, if they are inspiring women that do need to lose 30, 40, 50 or more pounds to improve their health to do so, then that’s a plus.
Who am I to judge who weighs too much, not enough or is just right?
What About The ‘Eat Yourself Into A Coma’ Food Boards?
The good news is there are plenty of foodie boards to counteract the ‘thin’ ones. Anyone who worries they are becoming obsessed with the Fitspiration board on Pinterest can easily change gears and head over to the food boards where you’ll find this:
My Facebook news feed is inundated with these high calorie, fat-loaded, sugary recipes. If I head over to Pinterest I can easily find the source for all of them. Now I’m offended.
If the Fitspiration boards promote too few calories and too much exercise, surely we could argue that the foodie boards encourage people to eat too much, over-indulge in unhealthy foods, and gain weight that will eventually lead to chronic disease, ruin their health and shorten their life. Considering the obesity epidemic the U.S. is facing, I think the unhealthy recipe boards are the ones that Pinterest should get rid of these. (Good luck, I know.)
What do you think?
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