We are getting a little serious with this article. This can be a sensitive subject, but I intend to avoid including any content that may be triggering like numbers or other things I can omit.
Triggering or glamorizing content regarding eating disorders has been all over the internet forever. Before, there was thinspo and all sorts of “pro ana” posts on sites like Tumblr, and now the same toxic energy exists in more socially acceptable packages. Maybe it is just our society’s tradition of encouraging body privilege or shaming fatness. But in 2021 this problem is more than this engrained norm, and the problems are even more difficult to identify.
Some Examples of General Triggering Content
For a lot of ED Survivors, certain terms or topics (as you may have noticed above) can trigger relapse into unhealthy behaviors. One example of a triggering piece of content could be the mention of weight or calories. I am not going to criticize every time someone mentions their weight or diet-related talk without content warning. Sure, there is nothing wrong with letting viewers know the content may not be for them, but that is not the primary issue. It is very normal to openly share goals and health-related progress, and it is never a bad thing to promote a healthy lifestyle, but what if people are promoting an unhealthy lifestyle? Or what if that unhealthy lifestyle becomes a mass trend?
More Serious Glamorizations Of Thinness, Dieting, and Overexersizing
There are so many forms of this online, but here are just a few examples:
- celebrity diet trends like fit teas or appetite suppressors – think any “quick fix” ad.
- before and after content, but instead of promoting a healthy relationship with your body or commitment to reaching goals in a safe manner, a lot of these trends or videos actually perpetuate the notion that people are prettier or more important when thin and therefore not attractive or special when fat.
- any dark humor with references to eating disorder behavior – this certainly varies but it still can have a harmful effect on viewers
Why This Content Is Problematic
I have used the term triggering a few times in this article, but to better explain what I mean, I am going to define this term in the context above. When someone who struggles with an eating disorder is constantly fed information telling them that they will be happier or prettier if they have some crazy transformation like someone they see online, or if they always see ads for plastic surgery or diet pills, they are more likely to relapse into bad behaviors, give into the pressure of the content they see, or simply believe the lie that they cannot accept their body the way it is.
On a broader scale this content perpetuates fat phobia altogether, encouraging a culture where only thinness is attractive and anything else is just unhealthy.
Let’s Do Better
Last week Pinterest announced they would no longer support weight loss ads on their platform. This is HUGE. Opponents may find that this move promotes obesity or unhealthy behavior, but HEALTH IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL. Healthy eating, fitness, and the use of supplements or other lifestyle choices are all unique and are meant to be between a person and their physician, coach, dietician, or therapist and not the internet.
Let’s continue to move in the right direction, no more quick fixes or body shaming, just healthy mindset and healthy habits – however that looks for you.