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Is Being Thin Worth Dying?

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Thinspiration videos, rampant on YouTube, strike fear in hearts of moms everywhere.

The New York Times Magazine reported on a disturbing trend that all moms should be aware of: Thinspiration videos on YouTube. Also known as "Thinspo," these photomontages of skinny or anorexic women are supposed to inspire teens and tweens to lose weight (and, presumably, to become anorexic), too. See for yourself...


Pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says, "Eating and body image disorders run rampant in this country. It is no great surprise to see videos glorifying these illnesses pop up on YouTube and other Web sites. As with magazines and glossy prints that glamorize unhealthy--sometimes lethal--body types, one can only hope that the images online will spark conversation about the dangers of striving to be skeleton-thin. Unfortunately, more often than not, these images seem to motivate young girls to put themselves at risk rather than to save them from it."

Pediatrician Dr. Gwenn adds, "This is most certainly pro-anorexic media and parents need to be on the lookout for their girls viewing this material. We already know that teens with eating disorders use pro-anorexic Web sites without their parents' knowledge. These videos, to me, seem like the next generation of that disordered culture -- a new way for anorexic teens to get the negative reinforcement to stay sick."

Psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky gives the following tips for talking to your teen or tween girls about Thinspiration:

Proceed with caution.

Anorexia often occurs in families where the mothers are deeply enmeshed in their daughters' lives. So you want to discuss the issue with your daughter without being overbearing.

Ask questions, don't lecture.

Ask her why she is viewing these videos. Get to the underlying reason -- like maybe she wants to look like that, too. Then ask what she thinks that's going to get her: fame, popularity, attention? You want to get into her mindset here.

Tell her to do her homework.

Ask your daughter to research the dangers of being too skinny. It won't take her long to learn that anorexia can be fatal. But discovering this on her own will be way more powerful than you warning her about potential consequences.

Don't allow Thinspiration videos to be watched at home.

Sure, she might still sneak it, but you want to make sure your daughter is getting a strong message that this goes against your morals and values, and will not be tolerated. 

Dr. Lisa says that kids could just be watching these videos out of curiosity, or because they think they're "funny" or "stupid." But if you notice that your daughter is watching these videos or visiting pro-ana sites 24/7, or you notice other signs of an eating disorder, you should seek professional help.

Here are some of the pictures our young girls are coveting online.

next: Bizarre Baby Rituals
54 comments so far | Post a comment now
A May 31, 2008, 8:36 PM

I used to view these videos.Im a 14 year old girl,who used to have an eating disorder.When I got hungry I’d view these videos and they would help me not eat.

My mom never knew about my eating disorder.I got over it by myself,and now I eat healthy and im at a normal weight.

I think these videos should be taken off,pro-ana websites should be also taken offline.I know its pretty impossible to try and get every single one of them,but people should still try.

nic June 12, 2008, 10:24 PM

ya know what might be more helpful- a society that doesn’t devalue people based on looks

and you know we do. overweight/fat people are portrayed and considered weak, lazy, etc.

meep September 12, 2008, 7:20 PM

my friend at high school can leg press 775 pounds and hes fat.

Natasha January 18, 2009, 11:58 AM

I’m 16 and I’m concerned about my weight (even though I’m technically underweight) but I feel like pointing out that as I look at this article, the ad on the side and the ad at the top are both for weight loss.

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karen January 27, 2011, 2:02 PM

It’s actually rather horrifying that young girls are seeing these photos and thinking they are beautiful as opposed to the healthy, strong bodies of an athlete for example. A strong, healthy woman is so much more beautiful
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