StaffStance: Getting the Skinny on Thinspiration

It’s an appalling and disgusting collection of pictures: emaciated models or celebrities, with protruding ribs, stick-like legs, some barely dressed.

The pictures are found on sites using the search term “thinspiration.” These sites are designed to offer weight-loss tips and photos of girls with anorexia to motivate viewers to cut back drastically on eating. The images are becoming harder to avoid as more girls flock to pinterest or tumblr.

We’ve all heard that advertisers project unhealthy and unrealistic body images and that we should not pay attention or be affected by pictures we see in the media, but thinspiration is on a more personal level.  These are real girls who have been starving themselves and wanting to drastically change their body image. The most frightening aspect of thinspiration is that it s a communal effort backing up and supporting a horrific behavior. Girls encourage each other with each comment, re-pin, or re-blog.

Some girls can look at these pictures or weight-loss tips and remain unaffected. But others may feel dejected and disappointed with their bodies. They will buy into the showcased diets that encourage girls to severely restrict their diet. Depending on the week, the girls are encouraged to eat a range from zero to 700 calories every day. For reference, a healthy calorie intake for a high school girl is 1800-2200 calories, three times the amount that these websites promote, according to mypyramid.gov.

In a survey of 86 students, only 35 percent had looked at thinspiration or similar pro-anorexia websites.

Senior Marisa Thompson recognizes “how easy it would be to become enveloped in that atmosphere by the strategic placement of models…and words of ‘encouragement’ to constantly strive for the perfect figure.”

While 58 percent of the girls said they were unaffected by the idea of thinspiration, 21 percent reported that they had changed their eating habits as a result. Another 21 percent said it made them feel insecure about their own figures but did not change their habits.

Our parents inspire us to build a family in the future and to lead healthy and meaningful lives. Our teachers inspire us to work hard and push ourselves to succeed. Blake Mycoskie, TOMS Shoes founder, inspires Hockaday girls to make a difference by purchasing his footwear to benefit children in need around the world.

Success should not be measured by appearances of our bodies, but by the fullness of our life. If you need more encouragement, just look around this campus. Our Hockaday classmates are inspiring us with their academic, artistic and athletic successes.

Although it’s unrealistic to suggest that girls won’t be concerned about the way they look, we say that you should measure success in ways other than the size of your waist.

Set fitness goals. Invent your own “healthy-spiration,” to encourage yourself and your friends to eat more fruits and vegetables, or exercise regularly.

Encourage your friends and use “compliment-spiration.” Write a positive affirmation on a post-it note and put it on the mirror in the bathroom. Encourage your friends to do the same. Create a more positive and supportive community by doing so.

This week is eating disorder awareness week. Let your inspiration come from worthy goals and extraordinary people, not from models and anonymous users on the internet.