As the fastest growing startup of all time, Pinterest has taken social media by storm. Millions of users are pinning their favorite recipes, pictures, cards to their own virtual pinboards.
But recently, a new wave of images washing across the website have many worried.
They're called “thinspiration” pictures. Girls pose with jutting hip bones and protruding clavicles. There's little question as to what they are trying to inspire.
Kaitlyn Wozniak, current Miss D.C. United States and a recovering anorexic, says the extreme images glorifying gaunt rib cages and pin-thin thighs can wreak havoc on those in the throes of an eating disorder, or someone attempting to recover.
Psychotherapist Jane Baxter, who has spent 17 years counseling those with the disorders, agrees.
“They’re deluded themselves into (thinking) that this is ok, that they're even still not thin enough even when they're skeletal, it's still not enough it's the distortion that these eating disorders carry, and its deadly,” Baxter says.
It's a startling self-destructive trend that has experts taking action.
“Now when you go on to one of those websites, if you search for anything that has to do with pro anorexia or pro bulimia, you're going to be redirected to resources and help,” says Lara Gregorio, of the National Eating Disorders Association.
Gregorio is working with sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. Since banning the images altogether would become a free speech issue, Gregorio is helping the sites implement a pop-up public service announcements instead for those seeking thinspiration.
Girls aged 15-24 are twelve more likely to die from eating disorder than any other cause of death, so when you're glorifying behaviors that could lead to that, especially in someone who's already vulnerable or predisposed, it could really further entrench the illness, she says.
Gregorio says it'll take time to find and flag all thinspiration images. It's a lengthy process she says could help lengthen a life.
For more information, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237. And to see NEDA's teen interactive website, click here.