What is Thinspiration? A Modern Phenomenon that Promotes a Thin Physique


Thinspiration, also known as thinspo, is typically manifested in pictures or videos of thin individuals, usually young women. Such materials are used to motivate weight loss, and are generally associated with the pro-anorexia movement. Thinspiration comes in various forms.

Types of Thinspiration

Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie. Image by blogger.com

Thinspiration can be manifested in different ways:

  • Thinspiration commonly utilises images of slim women, often celebrities, with images of thinness ranging from healthy bodies to the severely emaciated. A distinction is made between celebrity thinspiration and real thinspiration. Popular examples of celebrity thinspiration include Nicole Richie, Mary Kate Olsen, Kate Moss, and runway models, whereas real thinspiration features unnamed individuals who exemplify the thin ideal. Some subjects of real thinspiration have become famous by virtue of the frequent use of their images, for example the severely emaciated Bony Pink, who has become a virtual celebrity in the pro anorexia world.
  • Reverse thinspiration takes the form of obese people and fatty food used to provoke disgust and negatively reinforce weight loss. Images of obesity range from the slightly overweight to the morbidly obese.
  • Quotes, lyrics, poetry and mantras might also be labelled as thinspiration.

Regardless of the mode of presentation, thinspiration usually incorporates themes of purity, control and beauty, which are seen as synonymous with a thin physique, whereas food is associated with sin, corruption and disgust.

How Thinspiration is Used

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How Thinspiration is Used. Image by nbc4i.com

Thinspiration is largely an online phenomena, and is circulated through blogs, video sharing sites and internet forums. It tends to be found within the pro-anorexia community where members share tips and encouragement for weight loss.

Usage has been characterized in a variety of ways, from normalisation of eating disordered behaviours to creating a sense of community and identity among members of the pro-anorexia community. It attracts both eating disordered and non-eating disordered individuals, but has been criticised for its role in promoting eating disordered behaviour.

Summarising Thinspiration

Thinspiration is a modern phenomenon that promotes a thin physique through a plethora of methods, including images, videos and words. Such resources are primarily used to motivate weight loss, mostly by women, and often feature women rather than men. Thinspiration is associated with the growth of the online pro-anorexia movement and is widely circulated using the internet. Whilst it has been criticised for promoting eating disorders, thinspiration may have other more subtle functions for those that use and promote it.


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