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#thinspiration Should Be Banned: Researchers Say Tag Can Harm Women

May 13, 2015 2 min read

You can find them all over social media. Pictures of extremely thin women, some emaciated, posing in suggestive ways, falling under the hashtag #thinspiration or #thinspo. tumblr_myk8upgjsw1rv1v4jo1_500 A recent study has found these images may be harmful to those who see them, even if they aren't looking for them. tumblr_n3d5giBPdw1tueyuso1_400 Researchers at the University of California, Davis, examined 300 photos from Twitter and Pinterest under the tags #thinspiration and #thinspo. o-PROANA-570 Aside from being sexualized, these images were often cropped to remove the head or they focused on just a few body parts. "Imagine a teenage girl or even a young woman looking for inspiration using terms such as 'attractive,' 'fit,' or 'pretty,'' said doctoral candidate Jannath Ghaznavi. "She will likely find images of headless, scantily clad, sexualized women and their body parts." d8aa484c8647034563f76a2e56d9fd85 The researchers found that Pinterest tended to have images that were less sexualized, had more muscularity and a focus on fitness compared to those from Twitter that had more cropped heads and a focus on specific body parts. 1302640721508637 They believe this to be a concern because Twitter has a younger, more impressionable audience. Another social media risk comes with a young woman seeing the number of likes such a post has and taking that it as positive reinforcement. tumblr_mgeoicb4Pq1s2yypmo1_500

"A young woman looking at these image may think that's what she should look like," Ghaznavi. "That could prompt these girls and women to resort to extreme dieting, excessive exercise, or other harmful behaviours in order to achieve this thin ideal." Previous studies have found that 'objectified' pictures of women can lead to depression, anxiety and body shame in female viewers.

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Having said all that, the researchers of this particular study admit that they cannot know the effects of viewing these images. So, that begs the question, what's the point?

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Is this #thinspiration movement really any different than the plus size body celebration hashtags? Do they both glorify unhealthy extremes or is thinspiration something else? Is thinspiration just another way for women to show their self love? What do you think?


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