“The media” has been the broad nameless and faceless source for the body image issues plaguing women and girls for years, but with Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram all recently adjusting their policies to eliminate pro-ana (anorexia) material and postings that encourage girls to be skinny in unhealthy ways, these social media sites have been able to put one potential face on the issue: fashion bloggers.
Like the singular type of tall, thin models seen walking runways and appearing in campaigns, unless you’re looking to a fatshionista for style inspiration, chances are your favorite fashion blogger fits the slim and trim mold and that image rubs off on their followers. It’s actually more realistic to be influenced by these blogs than the models in magazines. Despite the effect they have on our body image we know that to some extent—most times an extreme one—they’ve been airbrushed to get the “perfect” bodies that are marketed to us.
Bloggers on the other hand are “real” women and if they can achieve these perfectly thin bodies, the thought is that we can too.
The thinspiration from fashion bloggers isn’t necessarily deliberate. Just think about some of the hair bloggers you follow. You check out their blogs and vlogs to duplicate the hairstyles they’ve been able to create and fashion blogs are no different. Not only do you want to duplicate the blogger’s style, but you begin to want to emulate their body type so that the clothes they wear look exactly the same on you. Depending on how far their body is from the admirers, followers may find themselves participating in unhealthy behavior to achieve that same look. Being immersed in the world of models and size 2 dresses and visible collar bones, these bloggers have likely been affected consciously or unconscionably by the ideal images of beauty they’re constantly surrounded by and inadvertently pass that on to their followers and the cycle continues. Even by constantly showcasing certain models the bloggers are endorsing one particular body type and when it comes to fashion we know that body is one most women can’t achieve or maintain healthily.
When the inspiration goes beyond being skinny to being rail thin with exposed ribs or visible bones, it’s evident an unhealthy lifestyle is being encouraged and this is hardly just a “white girl” problem. As the typical 36-24-36 image of black women with small waists and exaggerated hips and butts remains prevalent, thinspirators have sparked an uprising of black girl thinspo sites, emphasizing that black girls need thinspo too and not all black women want to be “thick.” When you think about the fact that despite the expanding waistlines of Americans, most high-fashion designers aren’t checking for plus-size women, if bloggers are going to be in on the latest trends, their bodies are going to have to be up to par as well. The question is how far are they willing to go and do they realize just how they’re being affected and the effect they’re having on the followers they’re thinspiring?