Thinspiration : NOT A Positive Motivator
Warning: If you Google this term or "thinspo" for short, you will find some very unfavorable material. Unfavorable, but very popular material. I am writing this article based on a book mark of mine from the other day titled "You Are So Beautiful" because this message is something that needs to be said, and we need to help those who are stuck in this terrible mindset.
In just the past few years, it seemed as if there was a new celebrity on the cover of a magazine denying that they are anorexic, or that they did indeed have an eating disorder. It turned into a twisted "trend" of sorts. Hollywood always had put pressure on stars to be pretty and thin, but bones? All I saw were bones. Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Ritchie, Mary-Kate Olsen and so many more were in the spotlight, both good and bad. The good? It started to raise awareness to the public. The bad? It gave pro-ana/pro-mia sites pictures for "thinspiration", and made the people dealing with these issues feel that these celebrities were role-models, while women like Salma Hayek or Catherine Zeta-Jones were considered "curvy" or "fat" Curvy? That amazes me. These women look like proportionate, healthy, confident women to me. Show me a picture of a runway model looking like she maybe ate carrot stick two days ago, and I can show you a list of all of her insecurities, fears, abuse, addictions...you name it.
Anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive eating disorders are everywhere and the pressure is everywhere from magazines, to television to movies, etc. What bothers me is that everyone is so concerned about the childhood obesity rate, but they are forgetting the ones suffering with these illnesses. These disorders are real and stem from an array of problems within the mind of the individual, and as long as websites promoting or giving "tips" to these poor people (girls and boys alike) they will not get better.
We need to raise awareness to help these people. They are crying for help, but no one knows it. They want help, but they don't want help. They immortalize anorexia and bulimia as a person "Ana" or "Mia" as they call them. I have looked at these sites and it tears me apart to know that most of these girls are trying to cling to something because their life is so messed up. And once you mess with your body for too long by starving it, purging or whatever, your mind becomes altered. They feel that weight is the only thing they have control over, or they need to fit in with a certain group (for example: cheerleaders, read this article and tell me if this isn't a cry for help.)
What I have found over the years is that a lot of the websites that promote this behavior have been shut down. Which is a good thing. We need to start seeing the beauty we have in ourselves, not what we can try to achieve because Jessica Alba is skinny even after having a baby so, we need to be skinny to be pretty too. It's unrealistic, it's airbrushed, and it's a silly way of thinking.
It all starts with you. How do you feel about yourself. Honestly. If you put yourself down in front of your friends or family, you are planting a seed that may grow to become an insecurity in other's lives. What's important to you, becomes important to them. So if you are trying to lose a couple pounds because you feel "so fat and ugly so I am just eating rice today", just watch the reaction of the people around you, especially children. However, if you say, "Mommy is going to start exercising so I feel better each day." That will help promote a positive thought of taking care of your body.
Eating good food, exercising, and being positive about yourself (even if you know you have things to work on) will help plant the proper seeds into your child's brain about self-image. Truth is, this problem isn't going anywhere anytime soon. As long as there is an industry to promote beauty (Hollywood--that's you!) then these issues will pop up regardless of what you do, but if you are the best example of yourself, maybe your children will come to you and ask about these things or call out if someone has a problem.
If you know someone who has an eating disorder, be there for them, but don't overwhelm them. People with these types of illnesses push people away, when they feel the loneliest. There are many resources to go to for information about this topic and can get help. If you are going through this, you aren't alone, remember that. But you need to reach out and get help, even if it is anonymously.
Here are a few sites that have more information about these issues: