A study has found an alarming new trend on social media which is promoting anorexia.
According to research from the University of Exeter, hundreds of women are using Instagram and Twitter to praise so-called ‘bonespiration’ posts.
The study has found an alarming number of users are using their social media accounts to celebrate extreme images of thinness while uploading skeletal pictures of women.
The study also claims to have found a number of accounts which feature selfies taken by girls to highlight their protruding hip bones, spines and collar bones. It should be pointed out that the researchers conducted their analysis on 734 images based on specifically targeted/searched hashtags such as; ‘thinspiration’, ‘bonespiration’ and ‘fitspiration’ on Twitter, Instagram and We Heart It.
Their search uncovered a staggering amount of content which glorifies bodies going through eating disorders along with captions that boast about the tiny portions of meals they consume.
These new findings coincide with another study which was published this year in January by researchers at the University of Adelaide, in Australia, which revealed that women were posting ‘fitspiration’ pictures are more likely to be at risk with an eating disorder.
It’s very worrying. I have clients who aspire for thigh gaps. They compare their appearance to others and find themselves suffering with large amounts of anxiety when using social media.
Lambert, who’s upcoming book Re-Nourish examines the dangerous effects of modern day diet culture, states:
Unqualified anecdotal advice is also rife.
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Academic researchers are now worried that social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram have potential to do more harm than pro-anorexia websites due to the accessibility and overall wider reach.
Furthermore the new research comes four years after Instagram put a ban on hashtags like; ‘anorexia’, ‘proana’, ‘thinspiration’, ‘thighgap’ and ‘imugly’ in a bid to tackle the eating disorder culture emerging on their platform.
However it did little to stem the tide as there are currently more than 157,000 posts tagged ‘#thinspiration’ and ‘bonespo’ on Instagram.
Catherine Talbot, a psychologist at the University of Exeter, points out that:
Anorexia and extreme weight loss is a serious social and medical problem.
To tackle this social contagion we need to be aware of the social media platforms being used by young people – mainly girls and young women – which is encouraging extreme weight loss. This behaviour could seriously damage their psychological and physical health.
Teenagers need to be taught about positive body image in schools and we need to build resilience.
If you been affected by the issues brought up in this article please visit the Anorexia & Bulimia Care website.