With the Internet, there is something for everyone. Anything you want to know or buy is just a Google search away. Keeping in contact with friends, sharing pictures, and being inspired is done with a simple mouse click.
There are so many great things out there, so many things to inspire us to better ourselves and our lives.
But with the good, inevitably, comes the bad. There are endless websites designed to inspire…but are they inspiring the wrong thing?
Thinspiration or “thinspro” refers to the promotion of eating disorders. Thinspiration sites offer tips on how to hide eating disorders, how to trick your body into thinking it is not actually starving, and post pictures of anorexic or unnaturally skinny women. Yes, really, they do exist, and people do visit and take them seriously. It is easy to point the finger at these sites and label them as bad. After all, we have the medical field on our side: eating disorders are dangerous.
But what about fatspiration sites? These are sites that promote fat acceptance, these are sites that promote beauty at any size, specifically well overweight, arguably even, dangerously. These sites are somewhat less easy to label, because isn’t acceptance of ourselves and others what it’s all about?
Maybe. But the truth is, both types of “whicheverspiration” can be dangerous. Both ends of the spectrum are focused on one thing only: body image. Both types of sites can be equally dangerous to those reading them, because the reality is, our bodies are only a fraction of what makes us who we are. Our bodies, and how much or how little fat we have on them, do not define us. They never will define us. The problem lies in being so obsessed with what we look like that everything else: fitness, emotional health, and all-around balance goes out the door.
If you’re not okay with who you are as a person, you’ll never be okay with how you look.
That’s not to say it’s a simple formula, and that’s not to say you shouldn’t always strive to keep your body healthy. But it is true that “health” looks different for/on everybody, and it is also true that emotional health and physical health go hand-in-hand.
If you know you are an emotional eater and you turn to a “fatspiration” site to justify your binges, you are not fixing the problem. Likewise for those who don’t eat. The point is to continuously look for ways to heal those parts of us that are hurt. There is no diet or any amount of exercise that can heal an emotional scar, just as there is no number on the scale that can make you feel good about yourself if the problem is on the inside.
In an ideal world, we would turn to websites (or friends or therapists, whatever), that would promote ways for us to find balance in our lives, that would promote being a beautiful person inside and out. In an ideal world, no one would need to turn to places like the aforementioned websites. In an ideal world, the Internet police would shut down harmful sites, find the owners, give them a big hug, and help them find some self-love.
But until we live in an ideal world, let’s do our part to uplift each other, to recognize beauty in others and ourselves–both inside and out (but mostly inside!). True beauty is so much more than just skin-deep. True beauty radiates from within. So let’s strive to make ourselves whole and balanced, so that our light may shine in the world and inspire those around us.
This is the right kind of inspiration, the kind that makes us all want to be better, not just look better.
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver