Research conducted by the University of Exeter has revealed that thousands of young women are using Instagram and Twitter to search for and glorify eating disorders by using the hashtag #bonespiration.
In the past week alone, lead researcher and psychologist Catherine Talbot said her team found more than 140,000 images of skeletal bodies linked to the trend and accompanied by worrying captions about counting calories.
Just over a quarter of these posts contained protruding hip bones, 23 percent ribs, 22 percent collarbones, and six percent showed the spine.
“Anorexia and extreme weight loss is a serious social and medical problem,” Talbot said of the findings.
“To tackle this social contagion, we need to be aware of the social media platforms being used by young people – mainly girls and young women – which is encouraging extreme weight loss. This behaviour could seriously damage their psychological and physical health.”
In fact, experts are concerned that social platforms could be more harmful than pro-eating disorder websites as they are more accessible and have much wider reach.
The new research comes just four years after Instagram implemented measures to tackle the promotion of eating disorders on the platform, banning the hashtags “anorexia,” “proana,” “thinspiration,” “thigh gap” and “imugly.”
“Teenagers need to be taught about positive body image in schools, and we need to build resilience,” Talbot concluded.
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