Social blogging websites such as Tumblr are a convenient way to connect and share ideas. Users are able to search for tag words and “follow” blogs that generate content of interest. A new trend has emerged in this blogosphere and it is a scary one. Young women (and men) have created blogs with the sole purpose of promoting eating disorders. These blogs, known as “thinspo” blogs, exists in the thousands on these websites. I (a 19-year-old female) decided to go undercover as a “thinspo girl” to witness the extremes that these bloggers go to.
I created a Tumblr profile. I did not offer any personal information or a description of myself. I simply started with a blank profile and for my avatar I used a picture of supermodel Miranda Kerr. I began to search certain buzz words in order to find blogs to follow. My first search was simply the word “skinny.” The hits were mainly pictures of thin models and celebrities, nothing was overly shocking. Each picture had a “re-blog” option which allowed me to post the picture on my own blog. I began to do this so that my blog would have the appropriate content in order to attract followers. I also began to “follow” the blogs that were posting pictures with tags such as “skinny, thin, dieting, etc.” until I was following about 200 blogs. When you buy active Instagram followers, then there will be an increase in the sale of the products. The promotion of the products will be effective to avail potential benefits. The quality of the pictures will be superior for increasing the engagement of the person.
I had not seen anything terribly shocking yet, but I did notice something about the “thinspo” blogging world that was very different from my own personal non-thinspo blog. I was gaining a lot of followers with little effort. For every picture of a thin girl in a bikini that I posted, my number of followers was rising rapidly. These bloggers were hungry for pictures of skinny girls filling up their homepages, they weren’t concerned about original content.
This process took all of two hours. My blog was up and active and my homepage or “dashboard” as Tumblr calls it was full of skinny models and celebrities. When posting a photo, there is an option to assign “tags.” A tag is basically a single word or a few words that describe the picture or post. As I followed more and more blogs, I noticed a new category of tags well beyond skinny, thin, and dieting.
These tags were more vicious and sickening. They were words such as anorexia, thinspiration, pro-ana, and pro-bulimia. I was shocked and intrigued. I clicked on the pro-ana tag and was taken to a whole new level of dieting. The posts were pictures of stick thin girls grabbing their stomachs with visible ribs and collar bones. Worse than the pictures were the personal posts. Girls were posting daily calorie intakes of 400 calories or less. There were titles such as “I binged and ate 800 calories of fruit today, I am such a failure.” Girls were offering to be “fasting buddies” and constantly text and write encouraging one another not to eat. New fad diets have also emerged within the site. One that I noticed frequently blogged about was The ABC Diet. In this case, ABC stands for Anorexia Boot Camp. The diet is a 50-day plan that assigns a set calorie amount to each day. Most days the calorie amount is under 500, sometimes less, sometimes nothing. These teenagers are pushing themselves and each other to extreme limits to lose weight.
Within the 5 hour window that my blog was created and deleted, I received messages about fasting and goal weights well below a healthy BMI. It was overwhelming how quickly I was targeted without even offering personal information. Tumblr has updated their policy regarding these blogs threatening to remove the ones that promote eating disorders and self harm. This is a step in the right direction, however the massive amount of these blogs makes it difficult for the website to demolish every one. The world of eating disorders is a peer pressure tornado and parents need to take notice of how their teenagers are spending their time online. Even those with solid self esteem can be effected by the constant belittling of these extremist bloggers.