Social media movements have taken over the conventional method of “rooting for a cause”. While these movements bring people from different regions together and feed into globalization, there is a critical side to social media movements. This platform which can be noticed on various internet applications like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, can lead people to condone and endorse practices which con be highly destructive effects. These movements can also grow individual’s insecurities, depression and lowers their self-esteem. We find people to practice extremely self-critical and self-evaluative as well as self-injurious actions. The frequency of such acts has fed into its’ normalcy at an international stage. Such is the case of Instagram Thinspiration. A growing hashtag used on Instagram which has since been banned but as we see, this hashtag is just a variation of the same root.
Let’s introduce what Instagram Thinspiration is about!
There’s an increasingly popular trend that was noticed on Instagram’s application which is knowingly inspiring young adults, especially females, of developing a thin body structure. Shortened as Thinspo in its hashtag, this trend might sound harmless in the beginning however, it is important to note that Instagram Thinspiration is actually a movement towards celebrating eating disorders. A trend that has been spread out on social media that could be considered healthy since it motivates individuals to lose weight, actually takes a harmful turn on people.
What is Instagram?
Instagram was launched in the year of 2010 and today it is owned by Facebook, Inc. Instagram is mainly a mobile application though it can be accessed through a web browser as well. This application mainly involves activities which are concerned with photo sharing, blogging, videography and so on. All of these activities are done so publically and are available to access by anyone who has access to internet. Although Instagram users have the option of doing so privately on the application as well and so their content is only available to pre-approved followers.
Social media movements are leading us today!
In today’s age, social communities have decreased when there is a rise in online communities that are a product of high internet usage and applications which allow people to connect online with friends, relatives and even strangers. Social movements are a huge part of these online communities. These social movements mainly aim on connecting people from different parts of the world if not individuals living in the same country, especially those with similar ideas. Through these movements then awareness regarding similar causes is spread and so are trends. These movements can cover a wide variety of topics from public to political and to personal related issues. While these social movements have their own benefits, they have also been criticized. Instagram Thinspiration is then the dark side of these social media movements.
Instagram Thinspiration is leading people to Eating Disorders
Eating disorders can either be a cause of psychology or an individual’s biology. In some cases, they are symptoms of some diseases. Either way, eating disorders occur in both men and women. While the name of the category is self-explanatory, eating disorders include either lower or more than average intake of food and/or refusing to consume food at all costs. In this case, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has several mental illnesses that come under the category of Eating Disorders. These include mainly, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa.
Instagram Thinspiration has been harmfully promoting Anorexia Nervosa in all those inspired by this social movement, either by pictures of those already endorsing and practicing Anorexia since a medium to long time period. Anorexia mainly involves refusing to consume food due to the illusion that each meal component includes a higher amount of calorie. And, consuming calories will lead to an individual being overweight. However, individuals practicing Anorexia Nervosa block the actual fact- that is that consuming a safe amount of calories, especially healthy calories helps people maintain their weight, body structure and health. Instagram Thinspiration has also enabled its followers to believe that it is safe to stop consuming food for energy, growth and smooth bodily functions. Whereas, in reality fact is that such an act if practiced for prolonged can result in harmful side effects which will be discussed later in the article.
While we have discussed some of the top criteria that can cause individuals to either condone or take part in trends like Instagram Thinspiration, practicing an eating disorder can be caused due to an interplay of different biological, psychological, social and environmental stimulus. With an increase in the usage of social media especially among teenagers and young adults, body ideals have shifted. These platforms can now be used to shame the “misfits” which can lead the bullied into re-shaping themselves whether it’s their body or their behavior. Practicing eating disorders to them seems to be a logical, less time consuming or an effortless solution to help them with assimilation into the society of these trends.
What is the origin of Instagram Thinspiration?
It is unclear how or who began the trend of celebrating extreme thinness which includes protruding clavicles, cheek bones, wrists, extremely small waists, thigh gaps and protruding ribcages. While nobody should be shamed for the way they look and the way their body is built, Instagram Thinspiration sends the opposite message. Instagram Thinspiration is speculated to have begun in 2006. This year is considered important because in between the years of 2006 and 2008, frequent pro-Bulimia and pro-Anorexia websites emerged as well as social media posts. These also included YouTube channel videos that promoted eating disorders and instructions on how to follow these disorders effectively.
While these websites and channels were eventually shut down, the trend shifted to Instagram through Instagram Thinspiration social media movement. Even though it is now banned from Instagram, similar images can be and have been uploaded under different hashtags, websites and channels. Not to mention, such images can still be shared in person among friends, family or even social media groups of strangers with similar interests. Variations of Instagram Thinspiration have existed even before the beginning or the rise of the hashtag on Instagram. It is safe to assume that these variations can exist even after official banning from social media sites.
What is unhealthy body weight?
For the purpose of this article, that is focusing on celebration of Anorexia by Instagram Thinspiration, we should first consider what number of weight is healthy and what is considered unhealthy for a human body. Before, we begin it is important to understand that your weight depends on your age, height and gender. Other factors such as bone density, muscle to fat ratio and body type are also considered. In order to get a rough idea of which number on the scale is healthy for you, calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index). This can be done by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in centimeters. Head over to a BMI chart to check whether your number of BMI comes under the range of underweight, normal weight or overweight.
However, instead of following harmful trends like Instagram Thinspiration because you do not feel comfortable in your body, it is always safe to make a visit to your general physician or even a nutritionist. It is also safe to assume that weight gain has different causes that depend on individual to individual. Also, weight loss in the other hand is also different for each case. Unlike what you notice through Instagram Thinspiration, starving self is never healthy since it deprives your body of important nutrients that are necessary for normal functioning. Further, unlike Instagram Thinspiration, losing weight faster than your body’s normal capacity can lead to an increased risk of diseases especially those concerned with muscle strength, blood pressure and heart.
What are the effects of Instagram Thinspiration?
With hashtags of #thinspiration, #thinspo and/or #ana which is shortened for Anorexia, Instagram Thinspiration spreads the message that you need to starve your body and yourself in order to achieve an ideal of perfection. However, as discussed earlier this is considered as an extremely unhealthy practice that leads to imbalanced body- through effecting the levels of hormones, neurotransmitters, effects the functioning of your brain among the rest of your organs and deprives your body from growth. Please note that our body is formed by different cells. These cells require nutrients and energy in order to perform their tasks normally and smoothly. This energy and these nutrients come from what we consume- fats, fibre, carbohydrates, proteins and so on. And, in the matter of Instagram Thinspiration and its dark message, if these nutrients and energy sources are not consumed it can backfire badly. It is understandable that like Instagram Thinspiration, other eating disorders, at baseline are somehow related to depression and are linked to a plethora of other variables. Still, the message itself can lead to a plethora of other variables related to an individual’s health. Continuous practice will result in an individual’s demise nevertheless.
It is absolutely essential then, to understand that regardless of how you evaluate yourself on the basis of ideals set by society, especially the international ideals, your body shape, weight and structure is unique, different and deserves to be celebrated the way it is!