Do you remember that year when all the magazine front covers were about Lindsay Lohan? Media plays a big role on how we perceive our body. We are greatly influenced by media on what should be the “right” size. Even though we all know what the word “healthy” really means, we always aim to have the body of a certain celebrity we saw on tv or the magazines. Recently, “thinspo” websites became popular for girls who are trying to lose weight. “Thinspo” is the short term for “thinspiration.” According to the urban dictionary, thinspo can be anything; it can range from movies, to pictures and even song lyrics. Many people with eating disorder utilize thinspo to inspire them to achieve their goal of losing weight. It might seem helpful for people trying to stay skinny, but thinsporation is not the best way to inspire people. Religious and women and gender studies adjunct professor Amy Milligan said that, “The phenomenon of thinspiration or thinspo really points to the power that the media, especially images, has over how we view our bodies … The facelessness and accessibility of the internet and media helps fuel the fire of disordered eating and body image issues.”
Growing up with a family where most of the kids were my age level, we were always compared to each other. Our parents always compared anything they see on us. I’m sure this differs with other families, but I never really cared for all these comparisons until my family started saying that I have gained weight. I did gain some weight, but not to the extent that I was obese. This completely made me change the way I looked at myself. It was a struggle for me because I wasn’t comfortable with my own family anymore, and they were supposed to be my support system. I opt out from tight clothes, so that they wouldn’t notice how “big” I got.
After months of trying to ignore all the comments about my weight, I was finally tired of it. The summer after sophomore year in high school, I started running every day, eating fewer portions of meals and cutting back on soda and junk foods. I also started reading my new subscriptions to different healthy magazines and looking at celebrities’ bodies for inspiration. For the first few weeks, I started noticing that I was losing weight which made me really happy. I have never felt so accomplished in my life. In the middle of the summer, I was so obsessed with trying to lose weight that I started counting calories. Everywhere I go, I counted calories; I counted calories from fruits, meals from restaurants and even drinks. There was never a day that I didn’t count calories. It became my obsession and family was making fun of me for doing this. This continued throughout my junior year and I have missed out so much good eats from Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. My obsession went on for a year, until I finally told myself that enough is enough.
Having to go through this struggle, thinspiration is not the answer to all the problems of how to lose weight. “There are other movements with healthy eating blogs that I think are a better source of information. Rather than focusing on weight, they focus holistically on well-being. I think that they present a better role model for all of us who are trying to be healthy — a balance of exercise, taking joy in food and cooking, and working to maintain healthy emotional lives,” Milligan said.
Accepting you are beautiful in so many ways is the first step to staying fit. If you are comfortable with what you have, then you will have more self-esteem. “My hope is that young women and men can come to realize that all bodies are beautiful. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and forms. Rather than trying to achieve an idealized perfection, we should all strive to live healthy and balanced lives, accepting ourselves for who we are,” said Milligan.