When Pinterest Goes Wrong: Dangers of "Thinspiration"

By: Kristen Guilfoos Email
By: Kristen Guilfoos Email

While you've probably used Pinterest to find recipes or DIY project ideas, many teen girls in our area are using it for something else, something that has the potential to be dangerous.

For Keri Anne Steger, the gym is pretty much her second home.
"I'm at the y a few times a week. I also do yoga and box and cross-fit."

Keeping up with that steady routine can take a lot of dedication.
In part, she keeps herself motivated through Pinterest. She has an entire board full of exercise mantras.

"I also send pins to friends. A lot of my other fitness buddies. We send pins and motivate each other."

While Keri Anne may be using Pinterest for the right reasons, there are plenty of people in our area who are not.

They're logging on to look at "thinspiration", which is essentially an unhealthy celebration of skinniness at any cost.

Eating disorder specialist Megan Hertrampf is an eating disorder specialist. She says, "I see what it can do to people's lives."

She sees patients all too often who are fighting an uphill battle.
"It's very dangerous and it's serious. Eating disorders tend to be. Not tend to be but they are, one of the most lethal mental illnesses."

Simply glancing at the images on Pinterest, won't cause you to become anorexic or develop on over-exercising compulsion.The danger comes from obsessing over them for hours on end.

They all begin to send the same negative message.

Hertrampf says it's basically "you as a person are not pretty, you're not sexy. You're not attractive. That's when it gets into the dangerous category."

She's not saying stay away from pinterest all-together... Because some of the messages can be a dose of healthy motivation.

Instead... She suggests approaching the images with humor.
"Okay, yeah, like I have the time to do my homework, and do everything I need to and spend 10 hours at the gym. That's not gonna be realistic for me and I don't want it to be. I want to have a full life. I want to be able to skip the gym and go to parties if I want to."