“I came into 2012 fat but I’m going to leave it skinny.”
“Your stomach isn’t grumbling, it’s applauding.”
“I like images that show skinny, happy girls. They look so confident and we can see their bones through their skin. It’s the most beautiful thing ever.”
These are just three of the troubling statements teenage girls – 16- and 17-year-old girls – are saying about their bodies.
Last week, the Huffington Post published a story, “The Hunger Blogs: A Secret World of Teenage ‘Thinspiration.’”
The story looked at the world of Internet “thinspiration” or “thinspo,” which refers to images of wafer-thin women and supposed motivational quotes encouraging anorexia.
Teens use Tumblr – a photo-heavy blogging platform — to share their own stories and encourage others on their quest to becoming scarily thin.
Here’s how the Huffington Post described the thinspo culture:
“While the thinspo-blog world traffics in disturbing images and peddles unhealthy habits, it also, sadly, provides comfort to those who participate in it. It is an underground phenomenon, yet it is housed on a platform that is one of the Internet’s newest, burgeoning hotspots. It documents addictive and compulsive behavior, yet masks this behavior in the rhetoric of self-control and willpower (“Your stomach isn’t grumbling, it’s applauding”). It’s an open-air secret — created with an audience in mind yet hidden from the offline world.”
A search on Tumblr for “thinspo” tags results in countless photos of young women with protruding collarbones, jutting hip bones and visible rib cages.
There are words disguised as encouragement like “Keep calm and stop eating,” “If you have the urge to eat, look in the mirror at your thighs and stomach,” and “Not eating calories is much easier than burning them off later.”
They have user names like starve-me-perfect, be-perfectly-thin and carvingoutcollarbones.
They have bios with their height, starting weight (SW), current weight (CW) and goal weight (GW).
One 16-year-old girl, who is 5 feet 7 ½ inches, had a starting weight of 128 pounds. She’s currently 118.8 pounds and has a goal weight checklist that decreases in 5-pound increments.
Her goal weight: 100 pounds.
If this girl succeeds in meeting her goal weight, she will have a body mass index (BMI) of 15.7. That’s below the fifth percentile. (A healthy BMI for a teen girl is 18 to 26.)
These girls are slowly killing themselves and they’re finding comfort and support online.
The girls who talked to the Huffington Post, and those who comment on Tumblr, say their parents have no idea they’re starving themselves and spending hours reading thinspo blogs.
Whether you’re a parent or not, please read the Huffington Post story.
Then check out the thinspo blogs for yourself.
And, finally, remind the young women in your life that they are beautiful. That healthy, strong bodies are more attractive than wafer-thin bodies. And, perhaps most importantly, that they are not defined by the number on a scale.