(Th)inspiration

The following post will consider the topic of pro-eating disorder blogs and images. To be safe, I am going to try to place this post behind a cut. Please be advised that some of the content may be triggering to those who struggle with disordered eating. Some of the images may also be disturbing on their own, though none of them are graphic.

As someone who is particularly prone to negative self-image and disordered eating (read: a typical young, white, bourgeois woman), I have a special knack for locating “thinspiration” blogs. On its own, “thinspiration” means exactly what it sounds like: inspiration to be thin. It ranges from supposedly uplifting quotes to images of very skinny people and body parts, many of which have been Photoshopped to look even skinnier.

These images proliferate on thinspiration (or “thinspo) blogs, websites where people like me (usually women, usually white, almost always very young) document their all-consuming desire to lose weight. They have names like “thinandbones” and “iwillbethinforhim.” In addition to posting these images, thinspiration bloggers list certain facts about themselves (current weight, highest weight, lowest weight, and goal weight at the minimum) and obsessively document every calorie they consume, burn, and purge. Such single-minded devotion to thinness can seem totally insane to those who have never suffered from an eating disorder. For those who have, it can spell a quick relapse. I will not link to any specific blog here, but a Google search for “thinspiration,” “pro-ana,” or “pro-mia” will turn up thousands for anyone who is compelled to see for themselves.

These blogs are mostly old news to anyone who studies eating disorders, though, and I’m more interested in sharing a recent response to thinspiration blogs which came to my attention just before Spring Break this year. It’s called a “fatspiration” blog, and it’s an attempt to reclaim the images and lifestyles used as negative reinforcement on thinspiration blogs. Contrary to what it may sound like, fatspiration does not promote fatness over thinness but rather health and happiness over unhealthy dieting and excessive exercise. These websites seek to invert the thinking behind eating disorders and media-influenced beauty standards by promoting the idea that bodies can be “beautiful and healthy AT ANY SIZE” (dailyfatspiration.tumblr.com).

To that end, here is a list of blogs dedicated to representing positive body-image and a variety of healthy body types:

— Jazzi Kelley

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