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Tumblr and Pinterest Ban Pro-Anorexia “Thinspiration” Content

Have you heard the term “thinspo”? The term is short for “thinspiration”, and refers to growing community of women who have used social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest to glorify eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. The thinspo community trades in images of underweight models and actresses like Kate Moss, messages that inspire self-harm and calls for women to set unhealthy goal weights. Tumblr, a site designed for displaying visual content, was unfortunately replete with thinspo and pro-anorexia blogs.

On the heels of the Huffington Post’s recent expose of Tumblr’s thinspiration community, Tumblr has taken strict measures to ban posts that promote self-harm and mutilation. From Tumblr:

Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders.

In addition to banning such content from blogs, Tumblr will show public service announcements to people searching for keywords like “bulimia”, “anorexic” and “thinspo”. The PSAs will warn of the risks of eating disorders and offer resources for those who are struggling with them.

Following Tumblr’s lead, pin board site Pinterest has banned all content that explicitly encourages self-harm or self-abuse. It remains to be seen whether other photo sharing sites like Instagram will follow suit.

While banning such content is a step in the right direction, the thinspo boards should be seen as nothing short of a national wake-up call. Women struggling with eating disorders are seeking community; they want to know that they aren’t alone. Unfortunately the pro-anorexia sites channel this desire for community and support in a negative direction. Individuals struggling with eating disorders should seek help in an eating disorder program. In eating disorder programs they can find support systems that can help them work toward living a healthy lifestyle. In a treatment program the urge for thinspiration can hopefully be replaced with the inspiration to lead a safe and healthy lifestyle.

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