Social media has become a breeding ground for problematic eating disorder behavior. “Pro-Ana” websites, blogs, and social media accounts promote anorexic behavior through damaging psychology. Topics such as starvation, dieting, tips for abstaining from hunger, and goal-oriented thoughts flood these pages. Focusing on the protrusion of specific bones like the collar bone or hip bones act as target physical appearances. Enduringly, the number shown on a scale is always motivation.
Today, motivation for achieving the ideal or ‘perfect’ body is being masked by health and fitness. Anorexia is still a dangerously pervasive mental disorder being faced by men and women. As healthy lifestyles have become mainstream, the perception of ideal body image has shifted. Achieving the stick thin photoshopped models on the pages of fashion magazines is being traded for the lean, sculpted, hyper-fit bodies of the health trend world. Clean eating, exercise, and regimented diet are all parts of this trend claiming to promote health. What they promote is an obsession with body image and disordered eating.
Online, the movement is led by the hashtag “fitspiration”. Fitspiration content includes motivational quotes for pushing the body to complete strenuous exercises despite mental road block or physical exhaustion. Veiled through the guise of willingness and determination, these sentiments aim to help push people beyond their limits, all in the name of getting the results. Inspirational videos, messages, and photos touch on the personal development journey taken in the mind to be so dedicated to accomplishing a goal.
Young people who consume “fitspiration” content have a higher probability of engaging in anorexic or bulimic behaviors. A recent study found that people who take time to look at, read, or save this information will binge, purge, and engage in excessive exercise. Though the results were correlational without causation, they prove a frightening point. Even when the message is clear, the results can be damaging from mainstream media. Ultimately, the health industry in all of it’s branches benefit from their marketed ideal of “perfection”, “health” and “happiness”. Selling people on the fact that they will feel better about themselves if they look a certain way, exercise a certain amount, or eat a certain diet, is profitable.
Hundreds of people are suffering from symptoms of anorexia and bulimia without meeting the criteria for diagnosis. That doesnt mean there isn’t a problem.