Photos of emaciated women proudly displaying their protruding hips and ribs, as well as thinspirational quotes “fat-shaming” those who dare to eat, continue to thrive on social media, despite the best attempts by sites like Instagram to temper the reach of the pro-eating disorder community.
Some girls gain thousands of followers posting pictures of “thigh gaps” and “bikini bridges,” as well as underweight celebrities andthinspirational quotes like model Kate Moss’s mantra: “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
“It just provides a lot of positivity for them, just in a very maladaptive way,” says Edward Selby, of the more visual outlet that sites like Instagram provide.
An assistant professor of clinical psychology at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Selby is the director of a lab there that studies what makes people more likely to develop anorexia (self-starvation), bulimia (binge-eating and purging) and other eating disorders.
About one in 20 young women in Canada has an eating disorder, according to the Toronto-based National Initiative for Eating Disorders.
And people suffering from these diseases often feel good after exercising, purging, swallowing a laxative or doing other things that contribute to their illness, Selby says.
They get caught in a “cyclic feedback loop,” with the positive emotions pushing them to engage more in these risky behaviours.
Online pro-anorexia and bulimia communities simply add to that loop by celebrating a person’s unhealthy achievements, he says.
– Aleksandra Sagan, CBC News