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Experts Warn Against Dangers of ‘Skinny Selfies’

Social Media And Image Issues

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Skinny selfies have been a prevailing trend for a while now. A means of documented weight loss, either via dieting, exercise regimes or both, they are becoming particularly popular amongst young women and some are concerned that their popularity might be contributing to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

The director of the Priory Hospital in Glasgow, and an expert on eating disorder rehab Dr. Alex Yellowlees has expressed concerned that this trend might fuel copycat behaviour amongst sufferers. This worrying notion is particularly pertinent now that certain celebrities have adopted the trend. Chloe Madeley, Vicky Pattison of Geordie Shore fame and TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh and are among those who have posted skinny selfies recently.

Unrealistic standards of beauty, particularly within the media have often been cited as a danger for eating disorder sufferers, as they create impractical body shape goals and create an atmosphere of contest, encouraging young girls to strive to be the thinnest.

Couple with this trend is the rather more disconcerting spate of ‘thinspiration’ websites and blogs, many of which feature openly anorexic women documenting their weight loss, and posting images demonstrating it, sometimes including protruding ribs and concave stomachs. They vary in extremity, but at the far end of the spectrum, many of these blogs actually demonise food and discourage any consumption.

Several cases of anorexia sufferers reaching the brink of death, directly influenced by these images. Some would argue that the UK is in need of more stringent regulations against potential eating disorder triggers. In 2013 France passed a bill that strictly prohibits starving tips or any other glamorisation of skinny figures. Sentences range from a fairly hefty fine to 3 years in jail, depending on severity.

The ‘pro-ana’ culture has gained a significant boost in influence with the advent of social media, almost being framed as a kind of protest behaviour, as many sites claim that they have no intention of encouraging new people to stop eating, instead merely providing a forum for those who already have. “We’re calling on parents, on friends and everyone else to understand more about the role that social media plays in young people’s lives, and become more resilient to the more toxic aspects of it.” Said Susan Ringwood, a representative of the BEAT support group. 
It’s easier than ever before to circulate messages and trends now, and issues like this really highlight the dangers of that.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Experts Warn Against Dangers of ‘Skinny Selfies’ Reviewed by Callum Davies on Thursday, February 05, 2015 Rating: 5
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