Thinspiration; Leaning towards Death

One of the characters in Marian Keyes’ Sushi for Beginners has an issue with food. She invents her own diets (“this week it’s food beginning with A”…) or plays games with the food on her plate, constantly re-arranging it to make it appear as though she has actually tasted it.
Much ado is made of “plus size” models who appear on the covers of the glossies. “Welcome to the real world” scream the headlines, rather as if one concession from the thousands of magazine covers will persuade the “thin is in” crowd that it is perfectly all right to have one once of fat spread all over the body.
Despite all the pep talks about healthy eating and body mass indices, the fact remains that success remains inversely proportionate to waist measurements. Celebrities are ridiculed for showing a square millimetre of orange peel flesh, and new mums are congratulated upon on shedding body fat even before the regulation forty days.
Moreover, the obsession with being, and remaining, thin, begins in early childhood. Ironically, sugar-laden sweets and cereals, and fat and salt-laden snacks, are marketed at children… by thin peers.
Internet-savvy kids know enough to haunt websites that not only encourage them to pretend they are eating, in order to fool parents and teachers, but actually teach them how to do it. Potentially fatal eating disorders are glossed over under the umbrella “thin is beautiful” mantra.
Teenage is a time when peer pressure and bullying are rife. A child who “knows” it is ‘bad’ to be anything more than a stick insect clone also knows that she has to conform – or face the brunt of the cliques that have turned Third World starvation into an art form – or so they think.
There is no difference made between being naturally slim, and dying to be thin. In fact, there are several campaigns that call for these sites to be shut down by law, since they are nothing better than pro-suicide sites. However, it is not only on specific “thinspiration” sites that the danger lurks – social sites such as Bebo, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and others all contain posts from people who boast that starving yourself to death is “a lifestyle choice”.
The slogans that abound on these sites include “You have beautiful bones; isn’t it nice to be able to feel them all?”; “You will be fat tomorrow if you eat today.”
These teenagers – adolescent girls are statistically most at risk, although boys are affected too – do not care that eating disorders are mental, as well as physical. Unfortunately, there are some people who think it is fun to target and lure children to their deaths, with false promises of beauty and fame.
It is not an invasion of privacy to check the sites that your teenagers have visited. There are ways and means to do this, despite the fact that they may have deleted cookies and history.
Unfortunately, these sites are not illegal, and it takes individual attention to get real results. Eating disorders are dangerous, and potentially lethal; never forget that.