Social media websites and eating disorders share a unique connection.
Platforms like Instagram can encourage negative body image through means of photos and pictures, and 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 encourage ways to dangerously diet, purge, and exercise compulsively.
Eating disorders having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, however, simply searching “Anorexia” or “Bulimia” on Instagram will bring a user to pictures of eating disorders, pictures which depict the starved bodies of individuals in a nonchalant manner.
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 disorder, 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.
The intention of these accounts on social media websites is to glorify eating disorders and the devastation they inflict. 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 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 promote eating disorders via social media. Please report an account that promotes eating disorders.