Instagram Users Promote Eating Disorders Recovery

By May Wilkerson 06/03/15

Despite cracking down, social media sites like Instagram are still awash in pro-eating disorder posts.

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Instagram can be dangerous territory for people suffering from eating disorders, with many people using the hugely popular photo sharing site to showcase extreme weight loss and unhealthy behaviors.

Despite the site’s past attempts to crackdown, eating disorder-related hashtags and posts remain pervasive. There are currently 3,291,304 posts tagged with #anorexic, and millions more tagged with #ana (anorexia), #ednos (eating disorder not otherwise specified), #skinny, and #thin.

The site is now taking measures to help curb pro-eating disorders posts and encourage sufferers to get help. Photos tagged with “#anorexic” now come with a warning, “Content Advisory. Please be advised: These posts may contain graphic content. For information and support with eating disorders please tap on learn more." The message directs people to a help page with information and links to treatment options.

At the same time, many users are also turning to Instagram as a way to promote eating disorders recovery. Increasing numbers of posts tagged with #bulimia or #anorexia show how a user has overcome the illness. Accounts like Recovery.for.happiness and Recovering Healthy include photos of healthy meals and encourage recovery with hashtags like #HealthyNotSkinny, #dontrestrict, and #foodnotfear.

“I went for dinner with the family and had some lasagne,” reads the caption under one post. “After we went food shopping I got a smoothie in the organic shop, it had strawberry, kiwi, banana and honey. I can’t even describe how delicious this was!!! Hit the spot! I’m in such a good mood today, feeling super positive.”

An estimated 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Experts have said the problem is exacerbated by the continued popularity of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.