How social media's 'clean eating' and exercise trend made Ashlee Thomas sick.

Note: This article discusses eating disorders and may be triggering for some readers.

Social media has a heavy presence in all of our lives, but what impact that presence has is a question we likely won’t know the answer to for some time.

For 17-year-old Ashlee Thomas, social media had a huge effect on how she perceived food. Clean eating and over exercising were all endorsed by popular influencers on her feed – so much so, she couldn’t escape it.

Ashlee began following what they loudly and frequently preached, as she told Allison Langdon in a preview for tonight’s episode of 60 Minutes.

She started eating extremely ‘clean’ and exercising like it was a chore, just as she saw social media celebrities doing. It became an obsession, and soon, she started depriving herself of food.

She was quickly diagnosed with anorexia at 14, at which point her parents felt so helpless they were force feeding her.

Social media and eating disorders
At Ashlee's lowest point, her parents force fed her. Image: Channel Nine.

In retaliation to her parents' attempts to help, Ashlee would distance herself, often shrieking hysterically at them.

“[It was] outbursts that you just see in the movies,” Mr Thomas said in the preview clip with Langdon.

“You’ve got your loved one doing that in front of you. It's pretty upsetting.”

When Langdon asked Mr and Mrs Thomas whether they thought their daughter's eating disorder would've ever been triggered without social media, their response mirrored Ashlee's revelations.


“No,” they both adamantly said.

In the preview clip, Langdon is also shown interviewing vegan social media star and health and wellness activist, Loni Jane.

"I do get a bit emotional about it, because people say, you know, like, 'you changed my life'," Loni said, discussing her influence over her followers.

“Do you need to be aware of the consequences? If someone takes your message too far?” Langdon questioned in response.

“You have a choice to unfollow,” Loni replied.

To hear more, tune in to tonight's episode of 60 Minutes on Channel Nine at 8:30pm.

For free help and support for eating disorders, contact the Butterfly Foundation‘s National Support line and online service on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673) or at [email protected]

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