I was inspired by a recent blog post written by Troian Bellisario (star of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars) who expressed her mild disgust at the amount of dangerous images found online, specifically, on Tumblr. The truth is, Tumblr is made up of 90% images and although you’re most likely to find cutesy picture quotes, fan-made photoshops of celebrities, and fashion photography, there is a current trend known as ‘thinspo’ emerging which is rather alarming.
To those who have never heard of ‘thinspo,’ no doubt the name says it all. In essence, ‘thinspo’ is a shortened form of the words ‘thin’ and ‘inspiration’ so – you guessed it – ‘thinspo’ images consist of emaciating figures that could unfortunately inspire some to attempt to reach that dangerous level of thin.
Whilst this is not always the case, as many Tumblr blogs are dedicated to losing weight in a healthy and safe manner, and their version of ‘thinspo’ generally consists of slim celebrity images, there is no denying that the dangerous trend does exist. The sad truth is that the internet not only has the ability to display unhealthy images, but it also has an immense power to convince and influence. When something (like ‘thinspo’) becomes prevalent online, its sheer presence and popularity makes it seem like it’s okay. After all, common thought usually goes like this: ‘if everyone else is doing it, it must be fine.’
As Bellisario pointed out, we each have a right to display whatever we wish on our own blogs. That is an indisputable fact, and censoring is not an option (nor should it be). So what then, is the solution? How can we avoid being affected by images we see online in our day to day lives? Perhaps we can’t. The logical move is to unfollow or delete those who promote images we don’t appreciate, but what if we stumble across them?
Ultimately, Bellisario got it right. She writes:
Take one moment before you ask for encouragement to lose weight in an unhealthy way. Just one moment before you search for images that make you hate your already beautiful bodies. And maybe, in that one moment, maybe you decide not to. Maybe there is something better we can be spreading around. Something that makes us smile instead of cry and feel proud instead of ashamed. Let’s take responsibility for ourselves and for our actions. Starting now.
The power is in our hands. We so often confuse the internet for some kind of alternate universe where our actions are not important, where we can bully people anonymously and confess our darkest secrets without consequence. Considering that the internet is used by so many, these views we possess of the online world are very unreasoned. We are as much a part of a community online as we are in ‘real life,’ and the same responsibility must be exercised in both communities. Otherwise, we face the danger of becoming resolutely careless, and let’s face it, how long before that carelessness creeps out from our online lives and into our regular ones?