You are of course, right. Everything I read, think, and talk about ends up being about education.
Michelle, Sam and I occasionally fall into what we like to call “etsy black holes.” Basically you find one cute thing on the website etsy.com and then end up looking at about a hundred other cute things that you want to buy but ultimately know you won’t buy. Next you tell, at minimum three friends about the things you found, then look at all the things your friends find, then show them all the things that you found from the things that they found and then, well, then it’s been 4 hours and you have just experienced a black hole.
There are several enticing things about an etsy black hole, starting with the fact you get to imagine your life being better with these things. Maybe your room would be cooler with that side table. If you had that necklace or those earring I bet everyone would compliment you. Your life becomes this cool fantasy. Also, while you are in this black hole you are basically bragging about the cool stuff you find. It’s like you are part of this community of cool stuff finders. And you all listen to each other and appreciate the cool stuff the other people are finding. Maybe, if you find something really good the other finders might even be jealous. That would be the best.
We (Michelle, Sam and I) are adults. We have pretty awesome lives, good days and bad days and (you can correct me if I am totally wrong) reasonably solid senses of self. And we, well maybe just me, still fall prey to this amazing time suck on occasion. In fact, in writing all of this, I am tempted to go look now.
Tonight though I fell in to a different black hole and it all started with this article entitled:
THE HUNGER BLOGS: A Secret World of Teenage ‘Thinspiration’
Kate, whose last name and Tumblr URL have been withheld to protect her identity, is a guru of “thinspo” (short for “thinspiration”). That odd marriage of clever wordplay and disturbing mindset is typical of this underground network of young, female diarists on Tumblr, the image-laden micro-blogging platform popular with teenagers. This codependent sisterhood of bloggers uses Tumblr for one sole purpose: to lose extreme and unhealthy amounts of weight.
-Carolyn Gregorie, Huffington Post 2/9/2012
You can read the whole article by clicking on the link about the quote. In fact I recommend you stop reading my blog and go read that so you can fully understand where I am going with this.
I met with a student today and she used the word “thinspo” when referring to another student’s tumblr.
(For those of you who don’t know tumblr is a blogging platform that allows you to post pictures and text but it’s key competent is that you can “reblog” things you like on your blog and all your “followers” can reblog it from you. So it’s a tad more social than say WordPress.)
When I got home I googled “thinspo” and after reading the above article I spent a (pretty shameful) hour looking at these tumblrs. Some of them sickened and disgusted me and others I closed almost immediately but then a strange thing started to happen, I started to think about all the ways my life would be better if I looked like these girls. I started to imagine people asking me “Wow have you lost weight?” I, knowing full well I never would, started to think about starting a weight loss blog because once it’s out there in the universe I will have to do it. I was being sucked in to this black hole.
That was after an hour. Once I realized how quickly I had spiraled in to unhealthily-thinking-land* I shook myself off and was terrified. An etsy black hole with two other fully cognizant adults was one thing but a entire community of teenage girls looking at skeletal role models without any adults is something else entirely.
Here’s the worst part: There is very little I can do about this in the big picture.
I can talk to my girls about this. But I can’t shut it down and I can’t make it not matter because it mattered to me after and hour and they have much more time.*post script: I understand that we live in an obese society, I understand healthy eating and exercise are very important. I know that there are beautiful healthy role models our girls should be looking to. I also know that I teach at an all girls school and this kind of social media perpetuated self hate scares the shit out of me.
1 thought on “You are of course, right.”
I have a tumblr and the thinspo things terrify me. The fitspo things make me really happy though. There are a bunch of tumblrs out there dedicated to losing weight and getting healthy the… well, healthy way. They post about not giving up and working out and eating right. They are for the act of eating! Those are the ones I flip through to remind myself why I want to go work out for a bit.
The thinspo make me sad. There are tiny, skeletal girls in some of the pictures that just look like they couldn’t handle wind if it hit them.
It’s not just tumblr though, Angelina Jolie showed off her stick leg in a dress on national television and while many thought she looked ridiculous doing it, I’m sure there are plenty of younger girls wishing their thighs were that non existent. Seriously, the camera supposedly adds 10 pounds and still Angelina looked like her leg could break at any moment.
I don’t think I have anything overwhelmingly smart to add to this, but I thought I would comment.