By JESSICA SMITH
The undeniable obsession with “fitspo” & “thinspo” is a dangerous phenomenon that has swept the web for years, erupting on sites such as Tumblr and Pintrest easily accessible and viewable by impressionable people of all ages.
But as Facebook & Instagram become the forefront of our communication these days, images and the much loved ‘selfie’ that are uploaded represent so much more than just a happy-snap, the subliminal messages are becoming more obvious. Uploaded images are now the path way for instant recognition by others, the number of ‘likes’ an image receives is seen as the measurable value of worth that one places on themselves, subconsciously or consciously affecting the person in that photo. 20 or more ‘likes’ means the image is popular and in most cases affirms to the person that they are in fact ‘hot’ or ‘attractive’ and one way or another validates this in a public forum.
We are bombarded with more than 500 images a day through the media, glorifying unrealistic ideals of beauty and perfection. This overwhelming barrage leaves many of us feeling inadequate, believing that we need to change the way we look in order to be accepted within society. The closer we can get ourselves to look like the images we see in the media the closer we are to feeling accepted.
Is it any wonder that the rates of young women and men presenting with eating disorders are constantly on the rise?
We, as a society have created a generation of women and men who believe that when they look in the mirror they first need to find their faults.
We all say that we want to see a change, and thankfully the “thinspo” epidemic in no longer a silent plague, with more and more discussions taking place that highlight the dangerous impact these images can have. But are we really doing enough?
It’s naive for us to think that by simply banning social media sites that we will therefore be ‘safe’ and not be exposed to the onslaught of propaganda.
But the capacity of such images to reach young and impressionable women and men is palpable.
So what can we do?
We need to educate each other about the impact these images are actually having, the more we talk about it the greater chance we have of understanding it.