For Fashion Beauty Friend Friday, Katy Rose decided to have a look at a trend on Pinterest: thinspiration boards (thinspo for short). Some of these boards are fitness related, but obviously others aren’t. She mentioned she would love to read everyone’s thoughts on these boards.
In college, I was a Women’s Studies minor, so topics like these are ones are my bread and butter! I could probably write a series of posts all about the problematic ways our society’s culture harms women (this being just one of them). So here it goes:
Obviously, I am into fitness. I mean, last friday I wrote a post about how I changed my life through exercise just this year. I think fitness is important and that everyone should be getting regular exercise and eating healthy.
However, I do not think the aim of fitness should be becoming supermodel skinny. The bodies we see in magazines and on tv are not attainable by the majority of the population. I think it is something like only 2% of the people in the world can achieve that body. Genetics play a large part in how our bodies look–you cannot change your bone structure no matter how much you exercise.
Unfortunately, our culture strongly equates beauty with thinness. “You’d be so pretty if you just dropped a bit of weight” is something people have said to my friends, family, etc. This is engrained in us from a very young age– look at cartoons and Disney movies! The villain is oftentimes fat (check this nice comprehensive list). Of course Disney also has a whole host of other problems, but they do reflect our culture’s views. Not only is it visible in cartoons, but also in Hollywood. The leading lady in almost every Hollywood movie is thin (and white and young), whereas men do not have the same requirements.
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Then there is the other end of the spectrum–where people point at a curvy actress or model and start to throw around words like “Curvy is so much prettier/better than the skinny!” Aside from the obviously problematic way that this involves shaming women who are skinny naturally, the truth is that oftentimes those super curvy bodies are just as unattainable. Most of the times the plus size images we see are woman who still have the basic hourglass shape. Two of the most popular plus sizes I’ve seen thrown about tend to be Christina Hendricks and Crystal Renn (Marilyn Monroe is another popular one)–obviously they are both beautiful curvy women but they do fit our societal standards of beauty. They both hold their weight in areas that tend to be desired (chest, butt) as opposed to areas (arms, stomach, etc) that tend to be viewed as bad by our society. All of the above listed women also have the desired hourglass shape.
Then there are ads like the one shown above. Ads that promote unhealthy foods while showing skinny women eating them. You’ve probably seen or heard people say things like “I hate it when girls order a salad, I want a girl that eats a burger” or something similar. Women who watch their weight are looked down upon. In our culture, we aren’t supposed to watch what we eat. We are supposed to be skinny without trying.
Now, back to the main topic at hand: thinspiration boards. These boards are holding up the body ideal that has been pushed onto women from our society and culture. Fitness is an admirable goal, however you cannot compare your body with someone else’s body. Different weights, heights, bone structures all mean that it is likely that your body will not look like that person’s. I do think there is a difference between pinning a set of six pack abs as inspirational as opposed to a dangerously skinny or anorexic person. I think there is a fine line between something that is inspiring and something that is damaging–and I’m not going to be the person to draw that line, because only the person with a thinspiration board will be able to say whether or not it is damaging to their psyche.
However, some additional information: thinspiration communities often house a lot of pro-anorexia thoughts (hopefully I don’t need to say just how dangerous and sad that is). Anorexia and thinspiration frequently do go hand in hand, which is another thing I find particularly worrisome with the thinspiration trend.