What Do ‘Thinspo’ Bans Really Accomplish?

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Don't pin this. Photo: iStockphoto

We can probably all agree that banning "thinspiration" content on sites like Instagram and Pinterest is a good thing. But how exactly do these bans help people with eating disorders? Claire Mysko, who runs the National Eating Disorder Association's social-networking site Proud 2 Be Me, tells Buzzfeed Shift that it's very important for eating disorder sufferers to have online communities where they can find support:

People who are struggling need to feel like they’re not alone ... When you eliminate a community for people, you have to provide a positive alternative. We’re saying thinspo is dangerous, but we recognize they’re providing a sense of community, and we want to fill that void.

So, while the "thinspo" bans are obviously a positive step, they don't cure people's existing eating disorders — professional help does. And online communities often provide useful resources for people who are ready to seek treatment (the trick is getting them to that point, of course).

Meanwhile, it's still very easy to find pictures of skinny people on the Internet without "thinspo" forums. Mysko adds:

Eliminating all 'thinspo' content from internet — that’s not a realistic goal ... [But when] huge companies like this take a stand and say this isn’t okay, that sets a positive tone.

So, in other words, the Internet is a double-edged sword, as usual.