Thinspiration: What is It and How is it affecting mental health

Last Update on August 9, 2023 : Published on August 9, 2023

Are you following and falling for the social media trend #thinspiration and adopting unhealthy habits to look thin? If that is so, you need to understand what thinspo is and why it is unhealthy.

Social media platforms significantly impact our lives and perceptions of beauty and body image. The constant exposure to glossy images of perfect body figures and curated social media feeds make one compare themselves. The glorified thin body image and unrealistic and unhealthy body standards influence many individuals. This is why without even understanding whether it is real or fake, they start following the trend resulting in dissatisfaction and self-doubt.

 If you, too, are falling for this extreme thinness trend and starving yourself, then you need to understand Thinspiration, its harmful effects, and how to deal with it.

What is Thinspiration?

What is Thinspiration

Simply put, it refers to social media content promoting thinness through unhealthy eating and excessive physical activity. It promotes a skinny body impacting eating disorder awareness and the mental health of those consuming such content.

Not only this, Thinspo, by glorifying extreme thinness, also affects an individual’s self-perception and self-worth. This is why understanding the connection between thinspo, mental health, and how social media influences it is vital.

Negative Effects of Thinspo on Body Image

On the one hand, social media is spreading awareness against topics like racial discrimination, body shaming, and the LGBTQ community and is simultaneously promoting Thinspo’s dark world, negatively impacting body image. This is a serious issue and must be addressed as it makes individuals doubt themselves, question their self-worth, and push them away from self-love.

Instead of promoting self-admiration and self-love, the trend is making individuals cautious about their looks. To understand how this is happening here, we discuss some of the negative effects of thinspiration on body image.

1.Negative Body Image Perception:

One of the widely noticed negative effects of thinspo is body image perception. Regular exposure to extremely thin bodies is making individuals develop a sense of hatred towards themselves. They compare themselves with the models and influencers and set unrealistic standards. This makes them follow unhealthy eating habits affecting their physical and mental health.

2.Unhealthy Body Standard:

Thinspo promotes thinness as the epitome of beauty and success. Individuals are following practices such as crash diets, excessive exercising, or even developing eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Due to this, their physical and mental well-being is being severely compromised.

3.Negative Impact on Self-Esteem:

Constant exposure to content where models and influences show themselves as thin significantly impacts individual self-esteem. The mid-sized individuals, or those on the heavier side, feel inadequate or unworthy, leading to a decline in self-confidence and overall self-worth. Moreover, those with ideal weight also start doubting themselves, and they think they don’t look good as they don’t have the body like those models and influencers.

4.Body Dissatisfaction:

Gen Z, or you say, the youth, usually compares themselves with what they see on social media platforms. With Thinspo in place, they constantly strive to achieve an unattainable body size or shape. When they cannot achieve it, they are dissatisfied, leading to frustration and disappointment, significant mental health challenges, and depression.

5.Heightened Body Shaming:

When there are talks about mental health, taking care of oneself, and self-love is promoted. However, with thinspiration being promoted on social platforms, body shaming incidents have increased. People have started judging others based on their appearance resulting in a negative environment where one feels pressured to fall into the norms of societal beauty standards; otherwise, they will have to face the criticism and ridicule of their peers.

How Thinspiration Impacts self-esteem?

As social media promotes Thinspo by showcasing celebrities’ weight loss journeys and emphasizing the importance of being thin, understanding how these images are manipulated and not believing everything we see is crucial.

Thinspo affects how we perceive ourselves, hurts self-esteem, and increases anxiety, depression, and feelings of isolation in youth. Therefore, promoting body positivity and self-acceptance is essential while challenging unrealistic beauty standards.

The images people put in the name of Thinspo forces people to compare themselves, making them feel inferior and dissatisfied with their bodies. Because of this, to achieve the ideal thin body, some individuals get involved in harmful behaviors like crash diets or excessive exercise, further damaging their self-esteem.

The only way you can deal with the adverse effects of Thinspiration is to promote body positivity and diversity. By embracing body diversity and creating a more inclusive and empowering environment. self-love and acceptance can be promoted. Also, this will help resist the pressures Thinspo builds.

The Role Thinspo Plays in Body Shaming and Dissatisfaction

Role Thinspo Plays in Body Shaming

Thinspo, also known as “thinspiration,” is an internet trend rapidly spreading, promoting extreme thinness as the perfect body ideal. Some claim it is a healthy way to encourage weight loss, while others disagree.

The truth is that Thinspo can lead to body shame and dissatisfaction. As it sets unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards, it pressurizes individuals to conform to this narrow ideal, resulting in body shame and self-dissatisfaction, especially for those who don’t naturally fit the portrayed image.

Moreover, regular exposure to Thinspo images leads to harmful comparisons, making people feel insecure and dissatisfied with their appearance. This toxic mindset fosters body shaming toward oneself and others. Additionally, Thinspo culture encourages negative self-talk and self-criticism.

As individuals internalize the thin ideal, they may feel unworthy, leading to a vicious cycle of self-dissatisfaction and low self-esteem. Thinspo can also trigger eating disorders, such as anorexia, a serious concern.

Thinspo & Eating Disorder Awareness

Thinspo & Eating Disorder

Thinspiration promotes the idea of being very thin. This trend can both help and hinder discussions about eating disorders.

On the one hand, Thinspo encourages extreme and unhealthy methods for losing weight, such as crash diets and excessive exercise, leading to eating disorders like anorexia. It even suggests that eating disorders are solely about being thin. However, eating disorders are more complex, involving emotions and genetics.

Focusing solely on thinness makes it difficult to understand eating disorders truly. Moreover, individuals prone to eating disorders, especially those struggling with body image, can be negatively impacted by Thinspo, as it pushes them towards dangerous weight loss methods.

Conversely, Thinspo has helped us notice how dangerous eating problems can be. It gets us talking about how we feel about our bodies and good mental health. It helps us feel better about our bodies and find help if we struggle with eating problems.

Thinspo also shows us that the media often tells us what “beautiful” looks like, but it’s not real. Talking about Thinspo leads to more extensive conversations that help us understand eating issues better and get help earlier. It also teaches us to look at things carefully and recognize when something online isn’t healthy so we know when to ask for help.

Thinspo’s effect on eating problems is like a coin with two sides. It shows us both the good things and the not-so-good things about talking about eating issues. By starting with Thinspo, we can have real conversations about eating problems, say no to unrealistic ideas about beauty, and help ourselves and others care for our mental well-being. Let’s work together to make a world where everyone feels good about themselves and understands eating problems better.

Thinspo and mental health

The impact of Thinspo on mental health is substantial and concerning.

Thinspo can significantly impact our mental health, causing issues for those across this type of content. When people keep encountering Thinspo content, it worsens their body image, particularly if their natural appearance doesn’t match what Thinspo displays. The images of extremely thin bodies can create a sense of inadequacy, leading to self-doubt and negativity.

Thinspo often glamorizes extreme and risky weight loss methods, such as strict diets and excessive exercise. This doesn’t just influence how individuals feel about their bodies; it also triggers anxiety and sadness. The desire to conform to unrealistic beauty standards and the constant comparison to those seemingly perfect images can intensify anxiety and depression.

Individuals who become too absorbed in Thinspo might begin avoiding social interactions due to negative body perception. This isolation can make them feel lonely, further deteriorating their mental well-being.

Thinspo can also lead individuals to adopt unusual behaviors related to their bodies and weight. This could involve constant self-monitoring, excessive exercise, or unhealthy eating patterns, harming their mental health.

The role of influencers in promoting Thinspo


In today’s world of social media, influencers hold significant power. They can shape trends and influence those who follow them. Unfortunately, not all influencers fully understand the responsibility that comes with this power. This is why some have spread the Thinspo trend, which presents extreme thinness as the ultimate body ideal.

Influencers focusing on beauty and fitness present their bodies as perfect examples of beauty and success. Despite their good intentions, this portrayal can make their followers believe they must achieve the same level of thinness, even if it’s unhealthy. Some influencers support weight loss by endorsing crash diets, detox teas, or extreme exercise routines, which can negatively impact physical and mental well-being.

This often leads followers to aspire to an ideal image that is not realistic. When they can’t attain it, they become dissatisfied with their bodies, resulting in self-comparison and unhappiness.

Moreover, the Thinspo content influencers can worsen things for individuals already struggling with eating issues and negatively affect their mental health.

Furthermore, influencer content can foster a sense of inadequacy in people. The constant portrayal of perfection can make individuals feel like they always need to measure up to what they see, resulting in increased anxiety and sadness and a diminished sense of self-worth.

How to deal with Thinspo?

Dealing with Thinspo culture and the trends you see can be challenging. But this doesn’t mean you overlook your feelings and mental well-being. To stay active and productive, overall well-being is a must. If you find that Thinspo is affecting you or making you feel demotivated and is hurting your self-confidence and self-esteem take action now.

The best way to fight against the negative effects of this trend is to believe in yourself, your body and be kind to yourself.

You need to understand that everyone is unique and has a different body type. You cannot achieve an unattainable goal. If you believe that shedding a few kilos will make you healthier, you should work on it. But adopting unhealthy means to look thin is not right.

Love yourself and be gentle with yourself. You will see things changing. Once you start practicing self-love you will see Thinspo or, for that matter, any other trend where beauty and body image is promoted will not affect you. To stop yourself from falling for Thinspo you can follow these tips:

Limit Watching Thinspo Content:  If you spend most of your time on social media and follow the Thinspo hashtag chances are you are falling for the trap. Therefore, limit watching content related to Thinspiration. Unfollow accounts and influencers who show pictures of a lean body and promote such unrealistic content. Watch content that makes you feel good about yourself and motivates you to do what you want to do.

Talk to Someone: Another best way to deal with your anxiety and feelings is to talk to someone. When you share feelings with friends, family colleagues, or support groups, you understand your feelings, emotions, and why you feel the way you feel. The people who support you will show you your strengths and guide you on the right path to help us stay healthy.

Not All You See Is Real: To deal with the negative effects of Thinspo, you need to understand, not everything you see on social media is real. Most of the time influencers use filters to make images look attractive. Therefore, stop judging and comparing yourself based on the images you see online.

Look for alternatives: When you are unable to achieve that thin and lean body promoted on social media chances of you feeling depressed and unmotivated are high. To deal with such situations and the side effects of Thinspiration focus on being healthy and happy. Look for a healthy alternative to eat. This will help you stay healthy and active. Try to move your body so that you feel energetic. Instead of trying to be thin try to be healthy.

Get Help: If stopping yourself from watching Thinspo content and feeling good about yourself is getting difficult, seek help. Talk to a professional or a therapist. They can help you with body image issues and will explain strategies that will make you feel about yourself.

Be Nice to Yourself: If you are not nice to yourself, no one will be. Treat yourself with compassion and care. Nobody is perfect. If you think you don’t have something, the same is true for others.  Be grateful for what you have. The way you look is just perfect, you don’t need to make any changes to please anyone.

Change Negative Thoughts: When you look in the mirror if all that comes to you are negative thoughts about your body and looks replace them with positive ones. Ask yourself why you think this way. Is it just because you saw some glossy glamorous image on social media platforms or is it because someone said something to you? Pay attention to how you feel about yourself. If you are not going to be okay with yourself things won’t change. So, love yourself and show compassion.

Be Thankful & Spread Awareness: When you know Thinspo is not good, spread awareness among your family members, peers, and friends. Let them know the side effects of this content and why they should not watch it. Ask them to focus on the good things and enjoy the activities that they love. This will help them to think positively and they will be grateful for what they are and what they have.

Remember getting over the effects of Thinspo will not happen in a day. It will take time and work. So be patient with yourself and celebrate every small win. Feel your body, admire yourself, and be comfortable with the way you are, you don’t need approval from anybody outside. What matters is how you see and feel about yourself. The more you seek outside appreciation the more you may be disappointed.

Stay fit and healthy for yourself. Appreciate all the efforts, and seek help if you face any challenges.

A word from CalmSage:

Thinspiration is a concerning issue that requires careful consideration and attention. It’s not that only influencers need to take responsibility. We also need to pay attention to the kind of content we are posting. We should think about the effects it can have on people and their overall well-being.

Displaying unrealistic beauty standards may lead to depression and anxiety among those who follow such content. Social media has the potential to counteract the negative effects of harmful content.

Therefore, it is essential for influencers to practice self-kindness and discuss strategies that will contribute to a healthy and more positive online environment

Thinspo is making people look at themselves negatively. This is why it is essential for individuals to recognize their self-worth. Regardless of what anyone says they should love and appreciate themselves. This will boost their self-esteem and will take care of their overall mental and physical well-being.

The harmful beauty standards set by the trend are just creating pressure making one feel unworthy. Hence, it’s time that we all stand against Thinspo and create a world where everyone feels good and deserving and appreciates their uniqueness irrespective of the beauty standard set by society.

About The Author

Ayush Yadav
Ayush Yadav

Aayush is a writer, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change and make people aware about the history. He holds a bachelor's in law, lives in the princely state Jaipur and is passionate about helping people in anyway possible. In his spare time, he is usually out with friends and enjoys exploring different facets of life.

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