October 5, 2013

Experts: Social media fuel dangerous weight loss among young women

The goal is to achieve a ‘thigh gap’ that occurs when thighs are so thin they don’t touch.

By Jim Salter
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Castlewood Treatment Center therapist Kim Callaway, rear, speaks with Sara, a 22-year-old client at thec enter for eating disorders in St. Louis who didn’t want her full name to be used. Treatment centers like Castlewood are seeing a growing number of girls and young women who are trying to achieve something known as thigh gap in which the thighs become so thin that they do not touch.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

A thin model walks the runway at the Proenza Schouler Spring 2007 fashion show at Milk Studios in New York. Some exceptionally thin models have a so-called thigh gap, which is upheld as a beauty achievement on countless websites, blogs and other social media.

The Associated Press

Grotesquely, some of the sites showed pictures of Holocaust victims “for motivational purposes” or martyred those who died from eating disorders. It seemed to make her own struggle OK, Sara said.

“I would say, ‘Well, I’m not that bad.’ ”

Her therapist, Kim Callaway, said she often encourages clients to avoid social media and even delete their Facebook pages.

“It’s not uncommon for people to be on Facebook talking about what they ate today, posting pictures of their meals or writing about how they’re 10 pounds lighter than they were a month ago,” Callaway said.

“The ability to be instantly connected to everybody and see what they look like and see them blog or talk about what they are eating and what they do for exercise – this makes it a lot more difficult for those with eating disorders,” Callaway said.

The National Eating Disorders Association is fighting back with its own site, www.Proud2BMe.org, which promotes positive body image and encourages healthy attitudes about food and weight.

Sara is getting better after about four months of treatment at Castlewood. She’s moved out of the treatment center to an apartment, though she still gets outpatient therapy.

“I want to recover,” she said. “And I don’t want this to be my life anymore.”

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