November 12, 2012
Individuals with eating disorders such as bulimia, compulsive overeating or anorexia nervosa have been creating and frequenting so-called "thinspiration" sites. These social media pages or blogs offer pro-anorexia content, images that most people would find disturbing. It’s common for these sites to features pictures of underweight women and slogans designed to encourage viewers to lose weight. Thinspiration sites have fortunately received a lot of backlash and many social networking sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest have gone as far as to ban thinspiration content.
Though the content of thinspiration sites is dangerous and damaging, it’s important to understand the fact that the individuals who create and visit these websites are suffering from eating disorders and are in need of treatment and support. Thinspiration sites, though replete with unhealthy content, provide a sense of community to these individuals who feel lost and are suffering. These sites have been popular because they allow individuals with eating disorders to realize that they are not alone. Thinspiration sites therefore prove the need for more social networking avenues that address eating disorders in a positive, healthy way.
To that end, Proud 2B Me is an online community that is offering content to teens and young adults with the goal of "promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight." Proud 2B Me features eating disorder recovery stories, addressing body image issues in the media, inspiring activism, and helping young people with eating disorders and body image issues connect with each other in a healthy way.
While it’s unlikely that a social networking site can truly treat a serious eating disorder – in order to successfully recovery from most eating disorders, professional treatment is necessary – communities like Proud 2B Me are healthy alternatives to detrimental thinspiration sites. By publishing recovery stories, such as Lauren’s Story, Proud 2B Me is helping young people to understand both the severity of eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, as well as the importance of seeking recovery.