HAVE you heard of “Thinspiration”?
It is an internet thing, naturally, relating to the online posting of photographs of skinny models as a motivational tool for those who wish to lose weight.
Some of the people who view these images probably do need to shift a few pounds. Others definitely do not. Sadly, Thinspiration pics are frequently shared on pro-anorexia websites and chat rooms.
The concept has been around for a while but, not being a chubby lass hoping to hone my beach body in time for summer, nor indeed an anorexic (can you tell?), I only discovered it this week, and like most things, it was Helen Flanagan’s fault. The ex-Coronation Street actress “liked” a couple of Thinspiration images on a social networking site and was immediately excoriated by the screeching online community, closely followed by some of the mainstream media, for “promoting anorexia”.
She was doing no such thing, of course. Flanagan is a slim but curvaceous young woman (a fact she is happy to demonstrate every five minutes or so) who fancies the idea of a flatter stomach and thinner thighs before bikini season rolls up. So she clicked the “like” button on a couple of motivational images, one of which featured the slogan “craving is just a feeling”.
That seems like reasonable behaviour to me. So why the hatred?
Well, partly because Flanagan-bashing is the new national sport. You see, she did not try very hard on a reality TV show, which meant that Eric Bristow did not get regular meals and....oh never mind.
The main reason is because we will not tolerate being told to resist our urges. Not by anyone.
Figures released this week showed that Britain is now lagging behind nearly all developed nations in terms of life expectancy, despite free healthcare and heavy spending on healthy eating messages.
But, if you look at those messages, they are usually couched in the most timid way, pleading with us to just “make a small change”.
Go on Britain, they whimper, just try one carrot. Look, I’ll put in on a fork for you....here comes the aeroplane! Now, would you mind ever so much doing a teeny tiny bit of exercise? Oh go on, we promise it won’t hurt. You won’t even break a sweat! How about walking the kids to school every other day? No? Once a week, then? OK, how about walking to the telly to switch channels?
And I don’t blame them. Because anyone who dares to suggest that attaining difficult goals – whether those goals relate to a flat stomach or, say, cutting government debt – may involve a little pain, a smidgen of self-sacrifice, is immediately shouted down by the mob, using any hyperbole that comes to hand.
That is why those who offer even passing support for Thinspiration – even in its healthiest form – risk a secular Fatwah. Pun intended.