#Danger: Social Media Promoting Eating Disorders?

Today marks the end of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The theme of these year’s awareness week was “I Had No Idea,” and it was promoted to raise awareness towards the significant impact eating disorders have on individuals, families, and communities across the nation. Ultimately, the week is designed to increase outreach and awareness regarding the devastating impacts of eating disorders.

Having recently blogged about society’s pressures to conform to a certain ideal “beauty,” I can’t help but be drawn back to this subject during this week.

What is really troubling is that social media, too, has an impact on men and women’s perceptions of their bodies, and can perpetuate these negative stereotypes of beauty.

My friend Emily directed me to an article she found in relation to this topic, about how various hashtags such as “#thinspo” and “#thinspiration” have dangerous effects, in that they promote eating disorders.

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If you search these tags on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr, you’ll find posts from people, more often than not women, who are frighteningly thin, hoping to “inspire” women to be like them. Flaunting phrases like “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” these people are brainwashing others into believing that something as horrific as an eating disorder is some wonderful goal to strive towards achieving.

These hashtags are also detrimental to those in recovery, who see these images and are reminded of a life they previously had, and often leads them to miss their life of being so thin – when it reality, it is so dangerous.

While these hashtags have been banned by Instagram, people can still find ways around them with different spellings and by creating new tags. The reality is, the images are still circulating, and still harmful to anyone who sees them.

Eating disorders are the most deadly mental illness, and it’s high time for social media sites to think of ways to band together and ban men and women from posting pro-eating disorder images on their sites. Social media should be used promote self-acceptance and positive body image. So #CaptureHope, and use your social media to promote health and happiness.

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