WARNING: The following post contains images which may be triggering to those suffering from or recovering from an eating disorder.
Thinspiration, or Thinspo, is inspiration to stay thin or become thinner. It is a tool used primarily by those with eating disorders, especially such disorders as anorexia and bulimia.
A major focus of thinspo is images. These images show extremely thin people to show what it is they are striving for. These images range from thin, to dangerously thin.
A different technique is reverse-thinspo. These images show very heavy people eating fattening foods, showing them what it is they do not want to become.
Another aspect of thinspo is slogans or catchy phrases which promote the pursuit of thinness. For example, “nothing tastes as good as being thin feels” is very commonly found on pro-ana websites. As is the latin phrase “Quod me nutrit me destruit” (That which nourishes me destroys me).
Pro-ana, or pro-mia websites are places where those with eating disorders come together for what they believe is support. There they often find sources of thinspiration, diet tips, and a place where their disease is accepted as well as praised. Community members support one another in not eating, and give each other advice on ways to achieve rapid weight-loss.
Pro-ana sites often claim that anorexia is a life-style choice, not a disease.
But there are some sites that acknowledge anorexia as a disease, and claim to be a place for those struggling with the disease to share stories and comfort one another. Some even warn that people looking for diet tips, or advice on “becoming anorexic” should not visit their site.
One of the top thinspo sites, prettythin.com, received an average of 281,650 views per day in the past three months, according to Alexa.com.
As large as that number is, there are many other pro-ana sites that people are visiting. The 2008 International Internet Trends Study showed that the number or pro-ana/mia sites increased 470% from 2006 to 2008.
Currently the web filtering company, Bloxx is attempting to create a web filtering system that will block pro-anorexia websites. The difficulty in this task is finding a way to block harmful pro-ana websites without blocking sites which could have helpful information about eating disorder diagnosis and treatment.
Viewing pro-ana websites and thinspiration can further intensify an already existing illness, or it can show girls who are just starting to diet an unhealthy and potentially deadly path.