Sunday, 1 July 2012

Why Is "Thinspiration" a Thing, And Why Is It Cropping Up All Over The Audrey Tag

So this was tagged on tumblr, "audrey hepburn, actress, ballet, discipline, self control, thin, thinspiration, thinspo, madethinspossible."

It really got my goat. Why is "thinspiration" even a thing? I know some people have weight issues and they feel they need targets and inspiration but from the way this was put across I strongly doubt this was aimed at this audience. Obviously eating disorders are serious medical, psychological and emotional problems and should be dealt with accordingly - but I don't think posting pictures of dancers and actresses who are evidently stick thin and tagging them "thinspiration" is going to help anyone. {I looked through the "thinspiration" tag for a few scrolls and I wouldn't advise it - it seems that this kind of picture is very mild compared to the skeletal girls with pictures tagged "pro anorexia"}

Audrey Hepburn didn't want to be as thin as she ended up. During the war in Belgium she had serious trouble getting food and as a form of protest (and help for her mother who was struggling financially) she decided she would make sure she could go without food. Later in her life she tried to gain weight and felt self-conscious about her weight (110lb at 5ft 6) she found it hard to gain weight because of the way she had grown up. Her food problems were as a form of protest against the Nazis and as a help to her mother who she was worried about. It was a political statement and something she did out of necessity and not something she did to look like a model (in her day and age models and movie stars actually looked like regular people and not always delicate as birds - if she'd been going for a model look she would have tried to be like Marilyn Monroe.)

However inadvertently, she set some kind of "standard" for models and actresses looking for perfection. I adore Audrey Hepburn. I admire her as an actress (as I said in this post) and as a person (her work for UNICEF is incredible) and I don't appreciate these pictures of her circling the web. I know it isn't what she would have wanted at all.

Everyone is of a different shape and size. I know it sounds cliche'd and probably a bit cheesy, but all of them are beautiful and perfect. I can name a few in the old hollywood community that people rank as some of the most beautiful women in the world. Ingrid Bergman - very tall, strong build. Katharine Hepburn - tall, lean, athletic. Marilyn Monroe - curvy, medium height, voluptuous. All very different but all regarded as "ideals of women". It just goes to show that you can't define beauty by a shape.

I honestly felt like this was really needed. It was something that had to be said. It would make me feel great if you could link to this article on social networking sites or on your blog and then maybe this "thinspiration" cult won't relate itself so strongly to the old hollywood community which is on the whole a safe, happy and accepting community. Thanks for reading (or skipping to the end) my long rant! :-D



Natalie said...

This is great, Bette. I totally agree with everything you said, and it really didn't sound cliche. <3

Meredith said...

Hear hear! Very true and very well put. It may be an unfair generalization but it seems like the people who place Audrey in this category are usually those who only know her as an icon/her work in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and from there aren't really interested in her history. It's important to correct this unfair misappropriation and to inform.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Audrey Hepburn's weight was a result of (and contributed to) her health issues. It's sad to think of people using her as an example to harm themselves or encourage others to do so.

Rianna said...

I absolutely adored this post! You make all the right points, as well as the bit about Audrey's weight. It always bothers me when people hail her for looking anorexic. She didn't do it by choice.

And I checked out the tumblr you pulled that graphic from, and I was disgusted because they had the wrong idea. It wasn't about being a healthy weight, it was about being bone thin. 90% of the girls in photos on that tumblr were posterchildren for this "thinspiration" thing.

Would it be okay if I did kind of a follow up or similar post? (I'd credit you of course). I've had this idea on the backburner since I made a blog, but now I feel more encouraged to write about it since I know I'm not the only one. Anyways, let me know!! :)

KC said...

I've never heard of thinspiration. How horrible! I can't think of anything more heartbreaking than being at war with your own body. Great post.

Film Flare said...

Really good of you to bring this to our attention. I think all the women you mentioned are stunning, and I look at how our beauty standards have changed and it saddens me. I'll make an image for my tumblr, linking back, because the issue is mainly there, and I'll obviously reach more people.

By the way, Zooey Deschanel's reaction is exactly like mine whenever someone says "I don't like to eat", or whatever, it's beyond me how anyone can (or pretend to) dislike food! Especially desert.

Alyssa LM said...

great post and so true. audrey was a humanitarian and i think she would be devastated to know people where using her image this way. everyone is beautiful in their own way and that should be celebrated.

p.s great blog

HKatz said...

Good post (and I'm glad I found your blog!) I don't get how people can so blatantly ignore the different body types in beautiful women. Extreme thinness comes with its own health risks too (just as being extremely overweight does).

And for many people it's physically impossible to look like Hepburn - it's not just a matter of thinness, it's also build and other features. They can be as "thinspired" as they want, but it won't get them there.

Samara Assis said...

I agree with what you all wrote, but I think there is something about the problem (thinspiration and anorexia) that needs to be said.

Although the search for "the perfect shape" has something to do with the beginning of many eating disorder cases, soon the feeling of being hungry becomes a coping mechanism.

Just as a binge eater eats and eats to deal with her fears, an anorexic feels comfort from being hungry, to the point that a person becomes emotionally and sometimes even chemically addicted to the feeling of hunger.

So it's much more complex than just body image.

brenda silva said...

Audrey Hepburn is way too sexy back then. I just love her Body. Well maybe she uses some programs like Thinspiration or Pro Ana.

Anonymous said...

Until you attack the completely toxic and anti-female fashion industry you won't be getting at the root of what has steering current physical ideals for many women in a physically unhealthy direction. The fashion industry is run by MEN, and while it's not PC to point out that those men don't fancy women and because of that they market stick-figure, sexless women who look like the twinks they wish they were, that's the situation. Patriarchy is still patriarchy even if the patriarchs are gay. It's perfectly OK to be gay. It's perfectly OK to market any physical ideal you like. It is NOT OK to be a chump and buy into bad ideals! The "customer base" should be flipping these people the proberbial bird instead of admiring runway models.
I'm a guy, BTW. I notice parallels between the ana/mia crazies, the fat-positive crazies (they come in both genders) and the body dysmorphic bodybuilder crazies who roid so they can look like the cartoon characters of their youth. They change their bodies only to appeal to the subset of people (usually same gender) who are like them. Guys don't generally like stick-figure or morbidly obese women, and women don't generally dig overbuilt guys (Google for studies on the subject.) People are not taught critical thinking and this breeds body dysmorphia.

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