Search “Thigh Gap” on Pinterest and You Might Be Surprised at the Results

It’s almost summertime, which means that literally every magazine targeted at women has a headline on the cover about preparing your “bikini body.”  Back in the day, it might have ended there, with magazines, but now that we have the Internet, there are pretty much an infinite number of places that can tell women how their bodies are supposed to look and how to achieve that.

Sadly, this isn’t limited to celebrity gossip websites – it’s invaded social media, from Tumblr to Instagram.  Even Pinterest, a site I thought was just a place to find really ornately decorated cupcakes and look at wedding dresses, is not immune; if you search the site for “thinspiration”, you get a variety of images – a few actually motivating, some saddening, and some downright disturbing.  In a way, these images you can find on the Internet are potentially more damaging than those in magazines where you can attribute physiques to celebrity trainers and top notch airbrushing.  Images on social media are being posted by regular people, and with people repinning and liking images, it’s easy to feel like trying to achieve a certain body type is something everyone is doing.

Fortunately, if you search for “thinspiration” or “thigh gap” on Pinterest, you also get a warning about eating disorders.  This isn’t the first battle in the fight against eating disorders and it certainly won’t be the last, but it’s nice to see Pinterest taking a step in the right direction.  Previously Tumblr and other sites have banned “pro-ana” tags, but like the mythical Hydra, cut one head off, and more just grow back in its place.

Lately, “thinspiration” and “thigh gap” have been the buzzwords used to promote unhealthy ideas about body image, but if you search for either on Pinterest, you’ll still get results, but there’s a statement cautioning about the dangers of eating disorders and offering information about how to get help.  (It’s interesting that Pinterest hasn’t chosen to ban these tags outright; search Tumblr for the same terms and you get just a PSA; I can see the argument for either side, but I do respect Pinterest’s choice to offer help without censorship.)  Sure, providing a website and a hotline aren’t going to cure every eating disorder, but if this message causes even one person to seek help for an eating disorder, or helps someone realize there’s a difference between a healthy weight and chasing an unrealistic body type, then this message is worth getting out there.

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