Inside Pinterest's Frightening Pro-Anorexia 'Thinspo' Cult


Photo: Pinterest

Pinterest, social media’s newest darling, has had a meteoric rise. But hidden inside its 52 per cent growth between January and February to 17.8 million unique visitors—and their digital scrapbooks dedicated to recipes, fashion and beauty—is a community dedicated to spreading “thinspiration” or “thinspo.”“Thinspo” has been around since the dawn of the internet. While some of the imagery celebrates women who are fit, muscular or otherwise in great shape, many of the photos and mantras encourage people to be unhealthily thin. Exposed ribs, jutting collarbones and protruding hip bones are pinned as ideals. Thinspo pinners also enthusiastically describe their starvation diets so that others can copy them.

Worse, the movement encourages young women to post revealing pictures of themselves at their “ideal” weight—which is often unnaturally underweight—exposing them to public ridicule.

No matter how thin the pinned images of models (or users) are, there’s a general sense that perfection is just another five pounds away, regardless of the health consequences.

Pinterest is all about perfection. People post images of their ideal pets, pastries, home decor or vacation destinations. But some users have a more dangerous idealization ...

Obsessive self-examination and comparison is encouraged.

The scrapbook nature of the site naturally lends itself to users who want to isolate specific body parts to fixate on, such as jutting collar bones ...

... flat stomachs and fleshless arms ...

... and ominous gaps between models' legs.

There is still ample thinspo content for both men and women on Tumblr.

The thinspo phenomenon predates Tumblr by at least a decade. In 2001, Yahoo shut down more than 100 pro-anorexia websites. AOL and MSN followed suit.

Recently, online media such as The Stir and The Daily have blamed Tumblr for thinspo's re-emergence. It's not actually Tumblr's fault.

In 2008, internet security company Optenet found that the prevalence of pro-ana sites had increased by 470 per cent between 2006 and 2007. Livejournal and Xanga provided a perfect outlet for thinspo boards, the company said.

Thinspo also exists on Facebook.

Now check out how real women look when replicating ridiculous fashion poses.

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