At first I didn’t really understand you. I mean, I’d heard of the “pro-ana” blogs that lurked in dark corners of the internet, encouraging starvation and promoting anorexia. But thinspiration blogs are more mainstream. You show up on the Pinterest homepage in the form of “diet plans” that allow nothing but lemon water for a week. You show up on my Tumblr dashboard in the form of photos of concave stomachs and protruding rib cages, or food diaries with 500-calorie totals. The phrase “thigh gap” is actually a popular blog tag now, shorthand for pictures of skinny legs that don’t touch. The gist of it? You are getting harder and harder to avoid.
I could write about how scary it is that these blogs have found such a huge audience. I could write about the flaws of our weight-obsessed culture, or the fact that the vast majority of these blogs are written by young women for young women. But mostly I want to write about how you make me incredibly sad.
I think about the girls who write blogs like this and how much they hate their bodies, how they believe their worth is tied only to their physical appearance, how their definition of beauty is so tragically narrow.
I think about the girls who repost pictures and text from these blogs and how they will never be satisfied, how they will never look down at their thighs and see strong muscles and soft skin, only dimpled fat.
I think about the girls who are actually feeling OK about themselves until a thinspiration photo or quote shows up in their orbit and tells them to reconsider.
I think about myself when I was 13, chubby and depressed, bullied at school. I used to lie in bed at night and think about cutting the fat off my stomach with scissors. Today I came across an “inspiring” photo of a girl trying to do just that. How would I have handled these messages? Would I have followed a thinspiration blog? Or worse: would I have written one?
Sometimes I click on thinspiration links to see who is posting them. Almost every time it’s a teenage girl. So here is it what I want to say to you: as long as you are focused on thinspiration you will never truly know inspiration. You will never learn to delve deeper than skindeep. You will never be able to dream about anything bigger than a certain number on a scale or an exposed collarbone. Someday you will look back on your teenage self and want to protect her. Why not start now?
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is a huge lie. Self-love is delicious, and so is cheese and chocolate cake.
What message does it send queer/gay/trans* people today who struggle with coming out and aren’t ready/able for whatever reason(s) if we go around calling historical figures “cowards” for not talking about their sexual/gender IDs in times and…
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”