You may or may not have heard about the “Thinspiration” controversy of late, in which women from all over the world have started online communities solely to promote severe weight loss through degrading messages and images of high fashion models and celebrities. This past spring, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram have banned such blogs and visual boards with hopes to curb the widespread epidemic of such destructive outlets.
Over the past few years, the fashion and beauty industries (what many would say are the major contributors of these overwhelming statistics) have attempted to take a few steps in a positive direction. In 2006, Spain created quite the stir during Fashion Week by not allowing models below a normal BMI to walk the runways. This June, Vogue claimed to begin a health initiative featuring ‘healthier’ models. And Christine Haughney of the New York Times notes how Seventeen’s recent Body Peace Treaty has elicited a thunderous response as readers cheered the publication’s promise to “never change girls’ body or face shapes” using Photoshop.
As hopeful and promising as these initiatives are or may sound… are they enough? The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) says that more than 10 million females and 1 million males suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. Other studies indicate that more than 80% of women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Recent opinions ask whether Tumblr/Pinterest/Instagram’s ban has truly helped or whether pro-ana and pro-mia (pro anorexic and bulemic) sites will simply manifest “Thinspiration” on different platforms.
So, what can we do about it? Verily is inviting and encouraging women to become the best version of themselves – to be truly healthy in mind, body, and soul. As unique as we all are, so too are our natural body shapes. We hope to create a space in which women can make peace with their bodies. Who are the women in the media we can look to for examples of healthy body image?
I challenge all of you, including myself, to begin living as the role models we so desperately need – one by one.
(Image via Sean Christopher Photography)