Why have 500,000 people liked this Instagram photo?

Video by MWN

Before I get into this article, I want to make something perfectly clear:

I am not trashing women with bodies like this one. I have no interest in “tearing women down” or making a judgement about their lifestyles. I have no idea what different women do or don’t eat, and it would be ridiculous of me to pretend I do.

Photos of women’s bodies on the internet do not faze me – I’ve posted many of myself in a bikini over the years. Photos that champion the female body in all of its weird and wonderful shapes are almost always harmless.

But when I scrolled through Instagram last night, I was startled.

My thumb landed on this:

A post shared by ALEXIS REN (@alexisren) on

A photo that shows an arched back and protruding rib cage. A photo that doesn’t make me feel happy or smiley or like I too could travel the world for free – but a photo that just makes me feel sad.

That was my precise feeling, actually, when I look at this photo: sadness.

This photo makes me sad due to the fact that droves of people – many of them young teenage girls – have looked at this photo and seen that over 500,000 people have ‘liked’ it.

Because let’s cut the bullsh*t and call it as it really is – the focal point of this image is a ribcage. The main feature of this image is her bones.

500,000 people have liked this photo’s unhealthy message, one that says: “Be so skinny your bones threaten to poke through your skin.”

Why in the world have half a million people liked a photo of bones?

LISTEN: Let’s talk about eating disorders. (Post continues…)

Considering Instagram has completely banned the use of hashtags #proanorexia and #probulimia, I’m surprised an image like this has garnered so much attention, yet still exists three weeks later.

It isn’t a question of this woman’s diet, or health, or state of mind – it’s about what this image represents.

And the Instagram moderators are kidding themselves if they think this photo represents anything other than eating disorder inspiration.

For help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation’s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673).

What’s your take on this photo? Should it be removed from Instagram?

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