These blogs are often horrific places where thinness is praised as the ultimate measure of beauty, health, and self-worth, while the bloggers and readers interact in a closed feedback loop of affirmation for their warped ideas. The worst part? With micro-blogging sites like tumblr--which is popular for thinspo and other forms of self-harm blogging--"followers" of thinspo blogs can spread their reach far beyond the initial readership by "reblogging" posts to their own blogs, thus reaching people who don't even necessarily follow the thinspo blog in the first place. The result is a far-reaching spider's web of pressure to be thin and self-loathing for failing to achieve thinness.
Example: I don't follow any thinspo, fitspo, or pro-ana blogs on tumblr. I follow people who blog about my favorite television shows: Supernatural, Doctor Who, Teen Wolf, Grimm, Sherlock, etc. I follow people involved in social justice issues, such as LGBT equality, feminism, and racial equality. I follow a couple of semi-militant atheists who basically blog about just that, and I follow a TON of body-positive and sex-positive blogs. That means people that are all about ending slut-shaming, kink-shaming, body-shaming and fat-shaming, people who are for health at every size and the de-stigmatization of safe, sane, consensual sex. I also have tons of blacklisted tags designed to block out posts about self-harm and dieting.
Despite that, I still see thinspiration posts on my blog from time to time. And every time I do, my gut clenches. Because when someone creates a thinspo blog, they aren't just harming themselves. They are enshrining their self-harm and sharing it with other vulnerable individuals. They are reinforcing the negative behaviors and thought patterns of countless others, and using those others to justify their own harmful actions. They are enabling others in their continued denial of the harm they are doing to themselves and creating a refuge from sane nutrition and wellness practices, where the ends justify the means, as long as the ends are thin enough. Basically, they're helping to bolster others on their road to a mental illness with physical symptoms that can and, for some of them, eventually will lead to their deaths.
It makes me angry both at and for the people who run these blogs, because they're hurting themselves...but they're not only hurting themselves.
I have a little sister who runs a thinspo blog. When I try to talk to her about it, she airily tells me that she isn't hurting anyone and she doesn't need my judgment. But she's wrong. She is hurting every single young person that comes to her site to be reaffirmed in their unhealthy and dangerous methods of weight loss and their disordered thinking about body image. So far, she still appears healthy, but how long will that last? And what about the people who follow her? What about the ones who are younger than her, more impressionable (which is saying something), who use her attempts to starve herself into an unrealistic fantasy body as inspiration for their own descent into an eating disorder? What about the person who follows someone who follows someone who follows her, who is in recovery but still easily triggered, seeing a poorly-tagged post and tempted toward a relapse? She's hurting herself and she's encouraging other people to do the same, and it makes me so angry and sad, and I don't know what to do.
So before your start a thinspo blog or reblog/share/promote a thinspo post, consider that you are not operating in a vacuum, where your actions affect you and only you. Consider everyone and every thing that has ever made you feel fat or ugly or not good enough, and consider whether you really want to be that person for someone else.