Anorexia and Bulimia Promoted by Social Media

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Creating  a Pro-Recovery Movement in Social Media

Social media has completely transformed the manner in which we view ourselves, perceive others, and interact with society.  Messages in the hands of social media can be conveyed as rapidly as wildfire, spreading animosity, self-hatred, encouragement, joy, and a myriad of other emotions with the swiftness of a status “like”, shared image, blog post or hashtag.  It is in this fashion that movements have rippled throughout social media, some positive, while others more damaging.

“Thinspiration” has been such a movement, evolving into a black shadow that infects social media sites with images of emaciated women, detailed instructions on how to binge and purge, or graphic information about severe weight loss.  The secretive nature of eating disorders thrives on these activities, often leading to the downward spiral of those who access them.  For individuals susceptible to developing an eating disorder or those in the fragile state of recovery, the thinspiration movement can be particularly damaging.  Thinspiration activity has become rampant, flourishing on social media sites such as Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest.  Easily accessed with hashtags such as #eatingdisorders, #size0, #ana, #needtobethin, etc, links to pro-eating disorder content drive the force of this viral campaign amongst all social media sites.  Sadly, it is these exact things that can be the tipping point for someone on the border of relapse or the trigger for women revisiting their unhealthy habits.

Why cannot something so damaging be stopped?  While some social media sites have updated their guidelines instructing users not to post content that promotes self-harm, it is not possible to monitor the billions of posts and widespread content that is shared on a daily basis.  While harmful content can be reported and investigated after it has been published, it is nearly impossible to police the content on the various social media sites used everyday.  Even with the banning of certain hashtags from social media sites, such as “pro-ana” or “pro-mia”, many users continue to post thinspiration content with new hashtags not yet recognized by social media giants.

Indeed, this has become an online epidemic that has gone beyond the control of social media sites, a sickness that is infiltrating the delicate minds and hearts of many lost individuals who may be suffering.

At Eating Disorder Hope, we believe that a new movement can be created, a movement that inspires hope, health, and healing for those in their recovery journey.  We believe that a momentum that encourages recovery from eating disorders can become a counterforce to that which hinders sufferers in their journey of life.  What if images or posts that encouraged recovery became just as or even more widespread on social media sites than those that might cripple it?

As a Pro-Recovery website, we hope you will join us in our efforts to promote online health, hope, and healing among eating disorder sufferers.  How can you be a light of inspiration in the darkness of the Pro-Ana/Pro-Mia online community?

  • Join the Eating Disorder Hope Pro-Recovery Movement*
  • Follow Eating Disorder Hope on any of our social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
  • SHARE your pro-recovery images and posts using the hashtag #prorecovery on your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram accounts.

Let us join together to promote a new movement in Social Media, seeding hope that uplifts those who need encouragement, who may be hurting, or who need support.  Social media can be a gift, a tool used powerfully with the right motives and intentions.  We need your help to do so!  Please consider joining with Eating Disorder Hope as we promote this Pro-Recovery movement!

*There are no costs or obligations required of our Pro-Recovery Movement members.  It is simply a commitment to stand for positive eating disorder recovery online by respecting the Top Ten Tips in your online interactions.

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Eating Disorder Hope in 2005, driven by a profound desire to help those struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. This passion resulted from her battle with, and recovery from, an eating disorder. As president, Jacquelyn manages Ekern Enterprises, Inc. and the Eating Disorder Hope website.