by Sujatha Nanjundeshwara | 21 NOV 2017
Media has always portrayed a body ideal where only being thin is in!
Any young girl or woman, who doesn’t fit this impractical parameter, ends up dissatisfied with her body image and tries all kinds of weight controlling behaviors such as binge eating.
The net result? Depression and low self esteem.
With social media now joining the bandwagon, users can now not only receive but also share information. Which means, people can now judge, ridicule and body shame anybody who doesn’t conform to these unrealistic body ideals.
thinspiration, fitspiration and bonespiration have been trending on social media for a while now. A study was conducted in UK and published in the Journal of Eating Disorders after content analysis was carried out on 269 images with thinspiration tags, 276 with bonespiration tags and 189 with fitspiration tags.
Here’s what the conclusions of the study were:
Search for this hash tag on Instagram, Twitter and We Heart it and you will get linked to the pro-eating disorder community (pro- ED) such as pro ana who argue that eating disorders are no illness but a lifestyle choice.
Use the hash tag “bonespo” on Instagram and you will see 130,000 posts and see that here featured body images had less muscles and more bone protrusions. In other words, bonespiration is an even more extreme form of thinspiration.
Introduced by the fitness community as an alternative to the above 2, this was supposed to inspire users to build a fit body through exercise and healthy eating options. After analysis of all the 734 images, the study concluded that while fitspiration gave rise to less thin and sexually objectified bodies than the other two hash tags. However, the authors still advocate using fitspiration with caution since a proportion of images under fitspiration were similar to thinspiration and idolized extremely thin body types.
The authors suggest that media literacy programs be carried out to educate parents and healthcare providers and also to toughen up young women not get carried away by these trends at the cost of their physical and mental health.
This is not a problem of now - if one checks history - As far back as in 1873, William Gull coined the term “anorexia nervosa” to describe an eating disorder. where people had low weight, but were scared to gain weight and wanted to stay thin. They went to the extent of checking their weight every now and then, ate only small portions of certain food, exercised excessively and even forced themselves to vomit or used laxatives to induce weight loss!
Things haven’t got any better over the last century.
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