Not to stir the pot here, but a colleague of mine tweeted this earlier today, and i immediately thought I should share. Did this already make the rounds today?
Granted, I’ve been a bit Tumblr absent lately, but I lurk now and then, and am pleasantly surprised to see so much less body hate on here than I did even a year ago when I first joined.
The article cites a study showing that 30-50% of people with eating disorders are finding sites like Tumblr to get deeper into their disorder.
But I like that “Fitblrs” also make Tumblr a safe space for people to feel supported and able to seek help as they are in recovery. Group hug.
I appreciated this phrase: “Although thinspiration sites have been around nearly as long as the Internet itself…”
Thinspo is not new. People encouraging each other into unhealthy practices via the Internet is also not new. The first thinspo blog I ever saw was on Livejournal, a platform most of you probably don’t remember, in 2001. Remember that Marie Claire article a few years back about how healthy living blogs encourage eating disorders? Picking on Tumblr (a platform that, admittedly, has its share of problems) as this article does is kind of missing the point.
In a sense Tumblr just amplifies what’s already out there: That messages in our culture about how being thin is better than being fat (and fit better than unfit) can get distorted into patterns of disordered eating and overexercise. We’ve all experienced this in some mild form, even if it’s just looking at a picture of a model’s perfectly toned (probably airbrushed?) abs and thinking “Oy, I should do some sit-ups.” The difference is having the perspective to redirect that into a healthy impulse.
Tumblr facilitates meme-ing and fast sharing, whether it’s of skinny girls or covetable purses or baby animals. The article also faults MyFitnessPal because people can encourage each other on it to follow dangerous diets — or they can encourage each other to healthily cut out calorie bombs and enjoy exercise. Either/or! The Huffington Post itself publishes before-and-after photos and stories of people who’ve lost huge amounts of weight, like kimijoy and the-smit. Are those dangerous because someone could read them and think unhealthy thoughts? I see them as inspirational.
What you read affects who you are. No surprise to me that I started reading healthy living blogs that previously annoyed me when I was trying to get healthy. It makes me sad when I see blogs that are just pictures of very skinny women, 500-calorie-a-day diets and quotes about how great it would be to have your boyfriend pick you up. (Uh, maybe he should start lifting instead of you trying to lose weight? Just a thought!) I don’t read them because I don’t like the corridors my brain goes down when I see them. But having been a teenage girl myself, it’s hard to recognize when your worldview is actively being skewed, and easy to assume it’s everyone else who is headed in the right direction.
It’s not impossible to imagine a world without thinspo, but taking a bunch of blogs off Tumblr is just treating the symptoms and not the cause.