10 Reasons People Shouldn’t Use Thinspo

1. Invalidates Eating Disorders. Thinspo is really just offensive to people suffering from eating disorders. Since thinspo is so closely associated with pro-ana bullshit it just further perpetuates the stereotype that eating disorders are vain, self-inflicted, and essentially just diets. This isn’t true! Eating disorders are extremely complicated and are a lot deeper than just wanting to fit into a pair of jeans. But all of the thinspo circulating around makes it look as though everything is about how you look. It’s a lot more than that, and people with eating disorders are struggling a lot more than you thing. If this really was just a “diet,” everyone with an eating disorder would be able to just snap out of it. I wish it was as easy as reaching a certain weight and being able to quit.

2. Often Unrealistic Images. The women shown in thinspo pictures are not necessarily pictures of healthy women at attainable weights. They aren’t always absolutely emaciated (although a lot of the time they ARE) and their bones aren’t always sticking out (again, a lot of the time they are). But they typically look like Victoria’s Secret models. Be honest with yourself, looking like a Victoria’s Secret model is not an attainable goal for everyone. First of all, it is the CAREER of these women to look the way they do. Second of all, need I remind anyone what exactly it requires to look like a Victoria’s Secret model?

3. Associated With the Pro-ana Movement. Of the 10 top websites that came up when you google “thinspo”, this is what I found (one of them was a definition on urban dictionary, which doesn’t really count, but in case you’re interested it says “Abbreviation for “thinsporation,” aka pictures of bone-thin women that girls with ana/mia use to remind themselves of their goals to become thin.”) 5 of the remaining 9 websites either openly admitted to being “pro ana” or had people on them that claimed to be “pro ana” 6 of the 9 encouraged unhealthy dieting tips 5 of the 9 contained unhealthy mantras encouraging people to put thinness above their health. Only ONE of the websites could make a legitimate claim to using “thinspo” as a way of promoting healthy weight loss/maintenance also-fun facts -when you search “thinspo” in wikipedia, it automatically links you to “pro-ana” -recommended related searches when I googled “thinspo” were “pro ana”

4. Makes People Feel Bad About Themselves. Thinspo makes people feel like shit. Don’t believe me? Women are more likely to participate in comparison and critiquing of their bodies after viewing thinspo. Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh grade girls that view thinspo and pro-ana sites have been found to have worse body image and be more unhappy with their body shape than those that don’t view these sites . 84% of women participitating in a study significantly lowered their caloric intake in the week after viewing a pro-ED site containing thinspo.

5. Makes it Seem as Though Eating Disorder Symptoms are Ok. A lot of thinsporation websites and pictures have absolutely unhealthy “tips” or sayings on them. But the fact that so many other people are approving of these pictures makes them seem ok. Pictures that say things like “keep calm and stop eating” or “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” are only making it socially acceptable to “stop eating” or participate in other unhealthy dieting behaviors. And although this may seem relatively harmless at first, it can spiral out of control and lead to a full blown eating disorder.

6. Creates a Sense of Unity Among Users. When people join together in groups they seem to think that anything they do is ok, as long as someone is backing them up. Creating websites for thinspo does just that. It makes it “ok” to dislike your body, mold it to fit someone else’s standards, participate in unhealthy dieting and exercise behaviors, or look down on overweight people.

7. Health Doesn’t Come in One Size Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. And they are MEANT to come in all shapes and sizes. There is no “one body type” that is the healthiest body type for everyone. Because of this, comparing your body to the body of someone else is not productive. Their natural healthy size is not equal to your natural healthy size, and you should be striving to find what your body wants, not what theirs does. If you are heating healthily and exercising moderately and your body is still a size 12, THAT’S OK. That is your body’s way of telling you that is where it wants to be. Thinspo only encourages comparisons. Again, your body is your body. Their body is their body. They are not similar, and they are not meant to be similar. Thinspo only teaches people that it is ok to compare their bodies to the bodies of other people around them, rather than accepting their body and being appreciative of the things that it can do.

8. You Don’t Know How They Got That Way. You typically can’t tell how healthy someone is from looking at their body size. Just because some thinspo picture has a thin girl in it, doesn’t mean she is any healthier than someone larger than her. She might eat junk food all day and just naturally have a fast metabolism. A person larger than her can be much healthier than her. Your size doesn’t determine your health, your eating and exercise habits do. Eating well and exercising should be about making your body healthier, not only making it skinnier. There are many unhealthy thin people and you don’t know how those people got there. They might have cancer, they might have an eating disorder, they might just naturally be that size. Yes, they might have done it through diet and exercise, but you don’t know that.

9. Makes Healthy Diet/Exercise Solely About Looking Good. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime should be about much more than looking good or making other people jealous. You should be doing this to help your body, to make it healthier and stronger. If you are in a mindset where you are only focused on how you look, you should probably get some help.

10. Introduces Other People to Thinspo. Maybe you’re in a place where you can handle looking at thinspo and it doesn’t cause any real problems for you. But everyone else in the world isn’t like that. Images of thinspo might further trigger someone with an eating disorder. It might introduce someone interested in losing weight to pro-anorexia sites (since apparently all you have to do is google thinspo to find those). If you absolutely HAVE to have your thinspo (in which case there is a problem), at least have the decency to keep it saved on your personal computer or in a journal or something. Don’t post it all over pinterest or blogs or websites or tumblr or whatever. This just leaves it out in the open for young, vulnerable children and people that might have already been experiencing eating disorder symptoms to find. No, they don’t HAVE to look at it, but when everyone else on the website is telling them that it’s perfectly fine and healthy, why wouldn’t they?

Also, reverse thinspo is just rude and offensive. Don’t get me started on that

Edit-I think it’s really important for me to make the point that being anti-thinspo does not mean that you hate thin people. It’s not about saying that everyone should be overweight and that no one should be skinny. It’s not about saying that one is better than the other. It’s not even about saying that if you look at thinspo you will develop an eating disorder. Because that most certainly isn’t true for everyone. It’s about learning to love and respect ALL body types. It’s about not comparing body types or striving to be a body type that isn’t your own. It’s about treating your body properly, giving it the actual nutrition and exercise it wants. And not doing it to look like some girl in a picture. Doing it so your body is healthy.


16 responses

  1. I had to google thinspo–I’d never heard the practice by its own name–but I see why it needs attention.
    I listened to Anderson Cooper’s dulcet tones on the Victoria’s Secret Diet (“Starvation Regimen?”), and I can see how having the models lauded as icons of beauty can be a scary thing. To be honest, I don’t know if that dehydrated girl’s diet becoming public knowledge is a good or bad thing. It promotes public awareness of how scary the lifestyle is, but also a road-map to get to her state. That second effect is the scary one.
    Anyways, just thinking aloud. Thanks for the insight (I learned about a whole phenomenon I’d never heard of!), and keep them coming!

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. It’s perfection. I want all women to read this. Thank you for writing it. I think it’s so important for people to realise that thinspo isn’t about eating disorders, it’s about making ALL people (men and women) feel bad about their bodies and have unrealistic expectations and thoughts about bodies (both theirs and others). Brilliant. Can’t wait to read more from you. Thank you. x

  3. Great post! I was inadvertently looking at a lot of thinspo on pinterest because I am interested in health and fitness pins. I had to eventually just stop using it as a place to get fitness or exercise ideas. If only I could get all the people I follow to do the same. I’m so sick of seeing harmful images accompanied by untrue or unsafe advice!

  4. I am finally at a point where I am comfortable with myself and my body, and people come up to me on the street and tell me I’m too big. Still.
    If everyone could read this, and perhaps focus on the fact that HEALTHY BODIES COME IN DIFFERENT SHAPES AND SIZES… well…. I’d be very much obliged.

  5. I’m curious what you mean by reverse thinspo. Do you mean pics intended to help the viewer gain weight? Pics that praise larger bodies? Pics that make fun of smaller bodies? Something else? I know you said not to get you started, but you seem smart and I want to hear your thoughts… but obviously if it will make you uncomfortable or upset, ignore me and I apologize.

    • Not at all! Clearly I could talk for days. Reverse Thinspo is the use of pictures of overweight and obese people to encourage the user to lose weight/avoid eating/exercise/whatever. It’s incredibly offensive. Just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean that they magically stop having feelings. They are still human beings and deserve to be treated as such.

      • Oh! Thank you. That makes a lot of sense! Hmm, do you think that people should avoid posting or sharing pictures of larger bodies because they might be used that way? I ask because I’m keeping a body positive picture board and it had never occurred to me that someone might use the pictures of larger bodies I post that way.

      • personally, I think you should keep it up! You shouldn’t have to change anything that you’re doing since you’re not hurting anyone. The people that are using the pictures in a negative way should realize that they need to change what they’re doing. Also, it probably wouldn’t make a difference. If someone is that determined to use anti thinspo they can find millions of other pictures online.

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  10. My friend has recently gotten into thinspo and it scares me to death ugh I never wanted to see thinspo again…..I’ve tried convincing her to stop but it’s doing nothing.

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