Online Communities Battle Against Eating Disorders and Promote Power of Healthy Body Image

The fight against eating disorders is no longer limited to addressing the battlefield in one’s mind but also enabling websites that help perpetuate the disease for so many. The Proud2Bme Summit held October 13 in Tampa at the University of South Florida sought to help spread the news that a positive alternative exists at Here, teens can take comfort in an online community that supports healthy body image and self-acceptance. The site, which is funded by the National Eating Disorders Association, serves as a source of fashion, news, and entertainment for young girls who might otherwise be led astray by the ‘Thinspo’ movement popping up all over the Internet. According to an article printed in the New York Times, it serves to highlight stories of eating disorder recovery and lets young women know that not all girls look like the airbrushed types found online and in the magazines. While there have been attempts to ban thinspo and pro-anorexic (‘pro-ana’) content that glorifies unhealthy body image and weight loss practices, the fact remains that it is still very prevalent and influential. Sites like Tumblr and Pintrest have recently placed limitations on such content available at their sites, especial any material that advocates self-harm. At the Summit, attendees were encouraged to take a stand against what’s being referred to as ‘body snarking,’ or making fun of and bullying others for their weight. Daphna Yeshua-Katz, a doctoral student at Indiana University says that society needs to come up with creative ways to make healthy information more appealing to adolescent girls. Yeshua-Katz conducted a small study of 15 to 33 year-old women in conjunction with assistant professor, Nicole Martins, which uncovered that blogging might be a good way to reduce stigma and aid recovery for those struggling with self-acceptance.

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