Eating Disorders: The online ‘Thinspiration’ cheer squad


In recent times social media trends have seen the rise in the hashtag ‘Thinspiration’, Pininterest has now made any search for ‘Thinspiration’ to be accompanied with eating disorder warning messages.

Thinspiration is not only a common hashtag on Pininterest but Instagram as well, groups have formed on Instagram were girls share images of themselves with their goal weight attached, other girls encourage them to reach their new target weight and give tips and advice on how to continually lose weight.

How bulimia affects your body. Credit:

Not only have anorexia and bulimia and the behaviors that surrounded these conditions been encouraged but drug use has been encouraged, certain drug use to keep appetites down and energy up to help during craving periods. Also suggestions encouraging self harm as a form of punishment for ‘eating too much’ has also been a tool for girls to attempt to keep their weight down.

Young university student Grace was once part of these Instagram ‘Thinspiration’ pages, where girls encouraged each other to use whatever methods they could to lose weight and keep it off.

“A girl told me if I just drink lemon water for 3 days and just stay in bed I will lose about 5kgs, or even only eat 200 calories a day while doing extreme exercise. Another girl told me to hurt myself as discipline if I eat over 200 calories,” Grace said.

With continual online encouragement the girls find it exceedingly impossible to escape the downward spiral into a full mental and physical health breakdown.

“Each girl I spoke to went in and out of hospital for either being too malnourished or even overdosing on drugs. Some girls also went to mental health hospitals to get treatment and finally recover from their eating disorders, but its very hard to recover if you’re in the wrong environment so a lot of these girls relapsed,” Grace said.

Snapshot of Eating Disorders Australia. Credit: National Eating Disorders Australia Collaboration

Grace warns that other girls need to know that this is not the life path young girls should take and these sites are indeed dangerous, this would appear to be increasingly hard in such an image conscience social media driven society especially amongst today’s youth.

“These girls that are on these pro anorexia sites need to understand that these people are very sick and are in a constant state of being in and out of hospitals for being drug addicts or mentally unstable. Its not the life that any person should live and go through,” she said.

Anyone suffering any type of eating disorder or body image issue can use the National Eating Disorders Collaboration contact page to locate a local helpline service and centre.

Parents of young girls who are interested in further information about the link of social media and  body image issues in young girls should read Elements Behavioural Health’s report.



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