Social Media and Eating Disorders

Social media websites and eating disorders share a unique connection.

Websites such as Facebook and Instagram influence negative body image through means of photos and pictures, though the way in which social media influences eating disorders is often overlooked.

Users of social media websites have direct access to forums where individuals discuss and even encourage ways to dangerously diet, purge, and exercise compulsively.

For example, simply searching “Anorexia” or “Bulimia” on Instagram will lead a user directly to representative pictures of eating disorders, pictures which depict the starved bodies of individuals.

Many accounts of this type promote eating disorder behavior, posting images that state expressions such as “name a food and I won’t eat it for a whole month” or “skip dinner wake up thinner”. I discovered these types of accounts when I was dealing with my own eating disorders, and they are dangerously influential. Seeing posts that promote eating disorder behavior trigger thoughts and actions that only worsen an individual’s already existing condition.

Because the intention of these accounts on social media websites is to glorify eating disorders and the devastation they inflict, it is apparent why the images they display are harmful and triggering. Seeing individuals publicly displaying the very thoughts victims of eating disorders internalize and attempt to block out often convinces a person that their condition is normal, or not serious, because so many other victims feel the same way. These accounts act as a veil to hide and glorify fear, and they are comforting in the sense they allow social media users to negatively interact with one another by promoting eating disorder behaviors.

While the National Eating Disorder Association has attempted to abolish these sort of accounts, thousands still exist and continue to influence and promote eating disorders via social media.

Do yourself and other persons suffering from eating disorders a favor and report an account that promotes eating disorders.


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