The term thinspiration, or thinspo for short, derives from the words ‘thin’ and ‘inspiration’. Thinspiration is the use of images and quotes to motivate an individual to lose weight or to remain thin. Often used interchangeably with the term pro-anorexia or pro-ana, websites that promote thinspiration were originally used to as a support group for individuals in the quest to achieve the ‘perfect thinness’.

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A search for ‘thinspiration’ on Facebook will result in many such pages and groups.

Before her recovery from her eating disorders, Grace Moo used to visit such pro-anorexia websites. “They had forums, where you could post suggestions, express your self-hatred, encourage other pro-anorexics to stop eating and to exercise more,” she said. “Thinspiration included phrases like ‘Thin is beautiful’ and ‘Bones are beautiful’.”

Unsurprisingly, with its ease of sharing information, the social media is now the most common platform used for thinspiration. This has become a growing concern, and in recent years, many social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest have put up policies that disallow such content on their sites.

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Thinspiration content found on Tumblr.

However, differentiating contents that encourage thinspiration from the ones that do not is not always an easy task.

For example, even though Pinterest does not condone thinspiration and pro-anorexia content on its site, photographs of women’s fashion are dominated by slim women which promotes the idea that thin is the ideal body type. — Amanda Soo

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