Now more than ever people are obsessed with losing weight and living a healthier life. Every day millions of women are thinking of, working on and talking about weight. To add to the obsession, microblogging social media sites like Pinterest have become a home for women looking to create “thinspiration” boards that encourage eating disorders like anorexia in order to get thin.

Last month, Pinterest, promised to limit the number of photos labeled “thinspiration” posted on pinboards and accompanied by hashtags such as #thinspo or #perfect. The new terms of service prohibit posting content that “creates a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to yourself, to any other person, or to any animal, and went into effect April 6th. The National Eating Disorder Association is helping sites like Pinterest sharpen their thinspo senses so they can more effectively root out some of the better-disguised thinsperation pictures.

While most of the pictures posted on these sites are of and by thin white women, one can’t help but wonder if Black women are partaking in the Thinspo craze. In most minority cultures women with a little meat on their bones are normal and celebrated; we’re used to serious curves and have long defied the rail thin stereotype. However with obesity on the rise and a beauty culture that promotes the standard as a rail thin size zero, many black women are trying more and more to fit the status quo. The curves are no longer “thick” for some, just fat and they would rather look like the women on these thinspiration boards then like the women in their neighborhood. Of course there are no studies, yet, on how many Black women are apart of these boards, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the number was significant.

No one should be overweight, it’s unhealthy and life threatening, but no one should be so unhappy with their body that they resort to eating disorders and unhealthy body images. Thinspo boards, whether used by white, black or green women, are promoting images that can be deadly. Women need to learn how to get fit and healthy without hating their bodies because the first step to getting healthy is learning to love and embrace yourself as is. Media and Thinsp boards be damned.

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54 Comments

  1. I have yet to see a black thinspo board, but posting buffy the body and other “enhanced” black women is just as dangerous.

    • @N’jaila Rhee: I much rather see Buffy the Body than these sickly looking things. this ish is scary.

      • @Poo:
        @ Poo, chile please. LOL. Most black women were thinner 30 or 40 years ago. This “all-black-women” are thick (AKA fat, obese, etc.) is a fraud (on the other end of the spectrum, many white women are obsessed with being unnaturally thin.) You can look on the hieroglyphs in Egypt and see that.

        Oprah was much thinner in the ’70s and did you see the photo Jill Scott tweeted of herself from 20 years ago — much, much smaller.

        A size 00 is normal for many people and these are hamhock eating people. Everyone’s body is different. You have many women who can wear a size 0 or 2 who have more curves than some plus-sized women.

        • @Melissa: I agree that there are naturally thin Black people. Americans in general– not just Black people –were thinner years ago. I was looking at some old footage of Soul Train (on YouTube) from the early 70′s, and Black men and women were much thinner then. I suspect that much of this had to so with lifestyle changes. People probably ate less processed food and less fast food. McDonald’s and other fast food chains were in their infancy, so they probably were not on every other corner. People cooked from scratch. With only 3 or 4 channels on TV (most people did not have cable yet), people were less sedentary. They walked more, went to dances, parks, etc. Also, those dances were rigorous back then…. a lot of upper arm swinging….LOL! Check out Aretha Franklin circa 1970 in her mini dress and boots:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STKkWj2WpWM

          Most of those women in those girl groups were thin too, although we now know that many of them were under watchful eyes. In general, people were thinner, even when I look at old family photos, my relatives were thinner than their children are at the same age.

    • @N’jaila Rhee:

      I agree completely! Also..why is it so hard to believe that there are naturally think black women in existence? there are 3 in my family who couldn’t gain weight if you paid them..they all have children, and we all grew up with the same/similar diets.

  2. I’ve seen these and don’t think they are all that bad. Many women go on these sites for motivation and not looking for eating disorder communities. Thinspo is something to go for if your trying to be healthy and thin. THERE IS NOTHING ABNORMAL ABOUT BEING THIN! Not every black woman wants curves or wants to accept being fat. I’m healthy and slim. 5’6 117 lb and have had a child.

    • @Fem:
      A distinction needs to be made here. Sites deemed “thinspo” and “pro-ana” are definitely within the realm of encouraging ultra thinness by any means necessary. They’re certainly not in the biz of DIScouraging such extreme measures as eating disorders and over-exercising (yes that exists) to attain the “Perfect” bodies on these boards and sites. That is to be distinguished from folks who are naturally thin and loving their bodies or those who are actively trying to attain a healthy weight for their bodies through good diet and exercise. Nothing wrong with promoting thinness if you’re in the latter category of sites and boards.

      However, let’s be clear that for definition and categorization purposes, so-called “thinspiration” refers to the former and not the latter.

    • @Fem: @KiaJD:

      I agree with Kia JD. People need to understand that not everyone who is thin is anorexic. There are fit women out there who are thin and photos of them on pintrest and tumblr have “#thinspo” next to them. The same can be said when you look up #fitspo pictures and all you see are extremely built women when not everyone who is fit looks like that.

      A better site with more examples of the unhealthy images of “thiness” is tumblr. When I go surfing for fitness pictures the photos that come up also have the hashtage “thigh gap” “pro ana” “pro mia” and other stuff that would promote unhealthy lifestyles. The worst part is that most the sites belong to teenagers.

      The worst one was a photo of a women who would be consider thin with the words next to her “eat now or look like this later”…horrid.

  3. I’m not sure black women are into being thin which is cool because a lot of the sites are trashy.

  4. “No one should be overweight, it’s unhealthy and life threatening”
    Really? Where do you get your information? You do realize this is contributing to the obsession to be “thin and healthy” – when being thin does NOT mean you’re healthy, anymore than being fat means you’re unhealthy. Making blind judgement calls like that isn’t helping anyone. Are you healthy? Ask your doctor, not a blogger.

  5. this is TERRIBLY written.

  6. also, WHY is the media suddenly acting like microblogging is a new trend and attributing it to Pinterest? Pinterest is just Tumblr marketed towards older people. Tumblr has been popular for years. thinspiration has been rampant on Tumblr for years. Pinterest isn’t anything new.

  7. What’s wrong with being skinny. oh I know, we live in culture of fatties who want everyone to make them normal and the rest of the fit world elitist. Thin is the ideal for a reason, it looks good people!

  8. When I was younger I was naturally thin, I did not have an eating disorder, just naturally thin. I wish there was a site such as thinspiration back then to make me proud of being my size. I think all should be proud to be their size without feeling like they shouldn’t. Just as you hear of fat people being made fun of, naturally thin folks had the same problems as well. With the common comment of “what do you wear a size zero”. I do not see anything scary about any of the women pictured above. Slim can be sexy too. And we too have a right to be slim, sexy and proud. Love You.

  9. Well, I see this is a trend among middle and upper middle class black girls only. I can’t see any other black girls trying to be that thin. Black women generally have a certain curvaceousness that defies the ideal (white) thin standards. Note: I did say generally – I, however, am not part of that “generally” as I lack curves almost completely.

    As a very skinny late-twenty something black woman (yeah, I wear the zero size skinny jeans, maybe even double zero at the Gap, and stand at about 5’6), I appreciate my size but would never intentionally starve myself (or any other extreme action) to get to my size. My immediate family is just full of skinny folks.

    There is no perfect size: there is only healthy and unhealthy. Period.

    The fact that some black girls are willing to violently force their bodies to submit to their desire to be crazy thin is laughable and sad to me. Your body is your body, and you cannot make it look like someone else’s body. Honestly, you can look at the bone structure and hands of many women and know about how big or small they are supposed to be. Smh at the girls who hate their bodies so much that they’d do violence to it just to be thin (just as I smh at the girls who hate their bodies so much that they’d do violence to it by filling it with unhealthy foods, albeit some/many overweight women simply don’t have access to healthy foods). Sad. Love thyself, people. Life is hard enough without all the extra psychological drama.

    • Digital Black Girl

      @Bee: What a thoughtful response. Most of the people that are involved lack something fundamental to their being. Forcing themselves by any means possible to be skinny is sad.

  10. think the first photo is from the snowblack blogger.

    For the record, I look at blk thinspo youtube videos and blogs to keep me on target. I’m 5’9.5 and 140-145 size 6-8 but I prefer a more thin look (currently 120-125 size 2-4) would prefer to be 110 size 0 but I know it’s pretty difficult for my body to get there but doesn’t mean I will stop trying.

    • @Madame Chic Noir: The main issue I have with these boards are the mantras that talk about the bloggers relationship to food. “Don’t eat anything you’ll regret tomorrow” or “I’d rather be skinny than a fat hog” is dangerous to impressionable girls. But I don’t think they should be banned.

    • @Madame Chic Noir:

      5’9″ and 110? That is not a healthy weight for someone your height! That would be a BMI of 16, severely underweight!

      • @Jame:

        Jame,
        It’s just a look that I like. I think it’s elegant and chic looking when the neck is thin and the cheekbones and very defined.

        *kayne shrug*

        • @Madame Chic Noir:
          I think people get really caught up on the scale number and not really how you look. My friends who wear size 0-2 weigh 120-130 and are 5’3″-5’5.” Way shorter than you (which is why I thought your weights sounds really low). I think you can look the way you want…by improving your body fat %% without actually losing much weight. (Increasing muscle and reducing body fat.). I get really worried when people focus too intensely on a scale number and not a metric that is more based on measurements. I like to differentiate between weight and clothing size. Take a spin on http://www.mybodygallery.com and you can see how wildly different one weight and height can look.

  11. Just for the people who don’t think this is real.

  12. Umm, I have a thinspo board and I’m not trying to be anorexic. I’m just tired of my legs looking like jelly. I’ve never had thin legs before where my thighs don’t rub together. I’m 168 lbs but I was 130 4 years ago. So my thinspiration is to get back to 130 or 125 and to have skinnier thighs

  13. Nothing wrong with wanting to be lean and fit and using a board for inspiration, but this size double 00 anorexic looking stuff on an adult woman is gross and unattractive. To each their own, but I like a happy medium no bones and no jiggle LOL.

  14. i was a 00 at one point in my life….i ate all the time i just ran two hours every morning…i dont think theres anything wrong with not wanting body fat and wanting to be lean…every black woman doesnt want a big ass and thighs

  15. Well, I curate a blog (http://sassynation.tumblr.com) that focuses on health and positive body image– among other things. The Sassy Curves section is just as much for my readers as it is for me to stay inspired to live a healthy life. Check it out.

  16. I’ve seen a few black thinspo boards. At first, I thought “cool.” Those chicks look like me, sort of. But the disturbing way these people view food…not for the fainthearted. Apparently, “it’s weak to eat” and people complain about “falling off the bandwagon” and eating again. Some say they wish they had the willpower to be anorexic or they won’t stop till they see their ribs.

    I was a 0 and 00 before those sizes were mainstream. Now I’m a 4-6 and if I lived like these maniacs I could be a 00 again but at my height (5’7) it’s not healthy. The weight I would have to maintain would involve zero eating. I’m not advocating thin-bashing- I hated/ hate people saying “real women have curves” and all that jazz. Every woman should be her god given size and maintain her health, the end.

  17. There’s a difference between thinspo/thinspiration and pro-ana, pro-mia blogs. A lot of people use those pro-ana, pro-mia, pro-ed pictures that say double 00 or don’t eat, you’re one cookie away from getting fat, etc and don’t even realize they’re pro-ana/pro-mia pictures. You just reblog because someone else has it on their blog and then they’re like oh yeah, I want my legs to be this skinny and lean.

    When people post those pics about it’s weak to eat, do a water fast for an entire day, or what to do when you’ve binged, those are pro-ana/mia/ed pictures. There’s a difference. Thinspo is wanting to be thin and delicate but by working out, eating healthier, eating clean. Fitspo is Fitspiration and those mostly have pics of girls working out with kettlebells, exercise balls, etc workout pics and tips on how to eat right too. But Fitspo is different from Thinspo because fitspo is mostly about getting in shape and having toned thighs, arms, muscles, etc stuff you’d want when you go to the gym. Thinspo is about being “Asian girl skinny”, having delicate legs, a gap between your thighs and also eating healthier too. But Thinspo needs to be more fitspo and needs to have more fitspo pics instead of pro-ana/mia/ed pics because it just sends the wrong message.

    Pro-ana: Pro-anorexic
    Pro-mia: Pro-bulimia
    Pro-ed: Pro-eating disorders.

    • @Mina: No. Actually…Thinspo is what communities who were pushing skinny by any means including pro-eating disorders “re-termed” Pro-ana: Pro-anorexic, Pro-mia: Pro-bulimia, Pro-ed: Pro-eating disorders boards. They rebranded the term to “thinspo” to get away from scrutiny. There is no place for thinspo. Though I will agree with you that some in the thinspo community take otherwise fine images and twist them to their purposes.

      • @Ms. Bad Mama Jama:

        Yeah I know. They hide behind thinspo/thinspiration now because all the pro-mia/pro-ana/pro-ed blogs are getting banned and deleted. But not all thinspo blogs are bad or lean towards unhealthy living. There’s plenty of thinspo blogs that don’t support pro-ana,etc disorders. They range inbetween fitspo and healthy, positive thinspo. But like I said before, thinspo now is all about being Asian girl skinny. They post a lot of pics of korean legs and models and that’s what they’re striving for. And the images that people are using from pro-ana, mia, etc blogs…other non-thinspo blogs post them as inspiration. I see them like all over the f*ck yeah…girls blogs! Fitspo is more motivational to lose weight than Thinspo because thinspo just shows girls with skinny legs and that somewhat makes you want to look like that too, but Fitspo offers more tips, diets, exercise pics, and more instead of pretty girls and legs.

  18. I’m 5’7 and 168 lbs. In my early 20′s and I want to be thinner. I was 130 lbs 4 years ago (b/c the college I went to was huge and a long ass walk to the cafe. *NC A&T* I spent my time eating ramen noodles and rice in my dorm lol) but I’ve gone back to the same weight I was my senior year in high school. I’m not active and I don’t exercise so I don’t believe this is really my god given weight. Although I’m glad it hasn’t gone above 170 plus, I want to be thinner, more Asian girl skinny lol. I’ve never had a flat stomach or thighs that didn’t rub together, even when I was 130. I want to lose weight and be at least 120 with smaller thighs, a flat stomach, no muffin top, and I want to keep my 38 D cups as much as possible. Not really sure how that’s going to work, but ever since checking out more fitspo/thinspo blogs, I’ve been motivated to exercise more. However, I refuse to starve myself and go on water fasts for an entire week. I love food way too much and always will lol. So no pro-ana/mia/ed for me, but I’m all for thinspo/fitspo if the messages are healthy and helpful. But I’ve got common sense so I’m not going to fool around and hurt and hate my body for nothing.

  19. Black women would rather eat themself to death than try to be thin.

    • Fashion Victims w/ Charcoal teeth

      hahahaha…… It’s like no one on this thread will even dare to respond with the perspective of a woman with an eating disorder in mind. How assured and judgmental you all sound, with no sense of compassion or concern for real living, breathing, flesh and blood tormented souls who suffer from this mental condition which can so easily erode the vivacity of its victims. Wake up, you incompassionates- these girls and women seek acceptance and love that they have been unable to find for as long as they can remember. That is why the affliction is chronic, deep seated and difficult to eradicate. Its a spiritual sickness that manifests as physical/physiological/mental/ illnesses. Healthy people don’t actually get it. That’s why sufferers feel alienated and form what they believe are support systems amongst themselves. YOU are part of the problem, so wake up and take some responsibility for your lack of humanity for once. Quit passing verdicts and just give a crap about a person in distress. Don’t have to belittle or praise, just be there for someone if you can attempt to be selfless for 30 secs. Really, ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

  20. I am so tired of people always talking about women that are thin. I think I am a size 4, formerly a size 6 because i got terribly sick one year, loss 10 pounds and the weight never came back. For black women, being too small is not really a good thing, culturally. It is so odd, because if I dated white guys, I would be “winning” because would like my frame. Instead, culturally I don’t get a pass half the time or worse, I’m insulted for not being a real women, when it is hard on both sides of the spectrum. it just frustrating. ughgh.

    • if you are going to succeed in this life…you got to define who you are on your terms. Not the black police who are eager to tell you how many laws of blackness you broke. One of which is being thin and trim.

  21. I’d rather be thin and sexy and date wealthy white, arab, spanish men vs. being thick (acceptable fat) limiting my dating choices to ex cons, baby daddies and men who don’t have health insurance.

    • @Thin: AMEN! don’t forgot you don’t want aids, get knocked up by a black dude, he leaves and then have to fight for child support

      • alright. my bad. I wasn’t trying to be mean. Just that when women say…black men like blah blah blah…I think…how sad that you would limit ur dating options to a group of men who really don’t want you and/or are not in the best position to love. I am very aware that dating is a chore for any ethnicity.

    • Thin, i really don’t blame you. Im 37 and let’s face it, fat looks and feels bad. I will never stop striving for thon! I have a vitamix and live on konnyaku, shirataki kanten and green tea for a reason!

  22. For what my comment is worth to any reader, I’m an African American female. I can tell you for a fact, that from 2006 to 2010 I obessively collected black thinspiration/ thinspo/ thinspire/ thin photos on my computer. I am one of many black women who treasures thin frames. However, as far as trying to meet the status quo goes, I always looked to the media’s BLACK actresses and super models( Naomi Campbell, Kerry Washington, Ubah Hassn, Halle Berry, Liya Kebede). I found them to be beautiful. I wanted to replicate their looks on my own frame.

  23. She is biracial (Afrasian), not black. Move away from the whole cultural perception of what black is categorised to be and deal with the matter from the reality of what you are looking at. You are not looking at a black woman, you are looking at a woman who is half Asian. Biracial women who are often built anatomically different than African women. She is half Korean. Her body displays the typical design of an East-Asian woman.

  24. reason number one i hate being female god women are a disgrace

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