Thinspiration - FOX 35 News Orlando

Thinspiration

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

"Do it for the arms, do it for you, do it for the flat stomach, do it for the thigh gap," reads a photo in one online support group. Looking at the image of a woman in lingerie, you might think she's too thin, but for a growing online community, images like this are "thinspiration" or "thinspo".

The websites and blogs collect images and quotes intended to motivate people on their quests to be skinny.

It's a group of people who share a very dangerous disease and are finding camaraderie and social support and unfortunately a greater sense of normalization that's really not a lifestyle choice; it's an illness," explains Stacey Dunn, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Central Florida who specializes in eating disorders. 

Thinspo websites are becoming popular with girls as young as 12 and women of all ages according to Dr. Dunn. She says thinspo is also becoming a bigger issue for men suffering from anorexia and bulimia.

"It's feeding something so dysfunctional," Dr. Dunn says. "It's making people sicker."

Dr. Dunn says the troubling websites don't support recovery. Instead, bloggers support staying sick. Images and pictures posted are not just frightening. Dr. Dunn says that they're dangerous. 

"Today was a good day," Dr. Dunn read one blog. "I lost two pounds. I didn't eat until noon."   

Protruding collar bones and hip bones are the goal. Girls who look emaciated complain they're not skinny enough.

"They're seeking out images to reinforce their obsession," Dr. Dunn says.

Fellow bloggers offer advice that often ranges from fasting, to over exercising, to purging.

"It's that sense that it's okay, it's normal, and here are some tools to do it better," Dr. Dunn says.  

Dr. Dunn says one of her patients fed on these websites.

"She kept going back to seek reassurance to be with others sharing her obsession, so we needed to do a lot of behavioral therapy," Dr. Dunn recalls.

While sites like this are constantly being shut down, they keep popping back up under different names. Dr. Dunn's advice to those addicted to thinsporation...

"It should be about healthy," she says. "Healthy is beautiful, not thin."

And if it's not about being healthy, it's time to get help.

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