Thinspiration, also referred to as “thinspo” – the abbreviation of thin inspiration, is a pro anorexia (pro-ana or proana) visual movement that was developed on social media (particularly) over recent years. While these words were originally words that related to the idea of harmless, healthy motivation for losing weight and remaining thin, these words quickly transitioned in another concept that referred to the promotion of behaviors related to the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia. Now thinspiration and its popular hashtag #thinspo are commonly used by individuals suffering from these eating disorders to help their inspiration of maintaining a low body weight and refer to the motivation obtained from certain kind of images (usually skinnys picture of women, revealing bones and small waste lines) and quotes to stay thin or lose weight.
While these terms originally started to grow online in the mid 2000’s, their usage were limited to “pro-ana” and “pro-mia” (pro-bulimia) websites and youtube videos. However, these quickly rose as social media developed. Here it became and remains such an epidemic that certain hashtags including “thinspiration”,”thinspo”, “proana”, “imugly” andd even “thighgap” were banned from Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter in April 2012 after the social media sites came under fire for the promotion of pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and eating disorders. With reports surfacing that some users would become obsessed with these images and spends hours at a time looking though related pictures, and even longer trying to imitate them.
However some reports suggest that Instagram’s ban of such hashtags has only increased social medias thinspiration problem. Considering only 17 terms related to thinspo were banned from Instagram but over 250 variations remain which still promote thinspo images, such as ‘thyghgap’, ‘thinspooooo’.
With the nature of social media these days, will it ever come to an end? We doubt it.