Thinspiration are images or video montages of skinny women, usually celebrities or models, who may be anything from naturally slim to skeletal with visibly protruding bones. Thinspirations are posted on Pro-Ana blogs and sites by bloggers, forum members and social networking groups to motivate themselves or one another toward further weight loss; many of these girls suffer from an eating disorders, specifically anorexia or bulimia. This community of bloggers, also known as the Pro-Ana community, promote the eating disorder anorexia nervosa as a 'life style choice'; they personify anorexia into Ana, a character with dogmas about the illness. These girls venerate Ana; as a result, they created 'Thin Commandments' and motivational tricks, which together with the Thinspiration images, help them to stay thin or loose more weight. Recently, there are more Pro-Ana bloggers that have begun to take and post self-portraits in order to inspire and display their success; these self-portraits are called the "Real Thinspiration".
My knowledge of this community comes firsthand. In 2010, after leading a year in recovery to overcome ten years of bulimia, I decided to document the struggle of girls battling the same disease.
Although the project as a whole remains untitled, it is focused on Eating Disorders. So, far the project is divided into three chapters. Chapter One: 'A Bad Day' portrays the daily life struggles of a girl with bulimia to clarify the misunderstandings that surround the disease. Chapter Two: 'Thinspiration' presents photographs of self-portraits taken by Pro-Ana bloggers to motivate other women to be thin; this chapter is an introspective journey across the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of self-destruction to denounce the disease’s new risk factors and motivators, like social networks and photography. Finally, Chapter Three: 'The Epilogue' is about the aftermath that indirect victims of Eating Disorders suffer, including the patients' families and their social environment, after they lose a member because of an eating disorder; and, the emotional network they create, which becomes the unwilling eyewitness of a painful degeneration.
For two years, I worked on Chapter Two: 'Thinspiration', a documentation of the Pro-Ana community members, who started to take self portraits of their thin bodies, and a portrayal of their obsession with their bodies having to be a certain way, like knees apart, sharp clavicles or highlighted ribs and spine bones. The images in this chapter are the result of photographs that I took of the computer screens depicting thousands of vernacular self-portraits taken by Pro-Ana members and shared on their blogs and websites.
The series I am presenting is the second chapter titled, 'Thinspiration'. My hope is that if I receive the grant, I will be able to continue working on the second and the final chapter of this long term project. My mission is to bring awareness about the existence of new triggers for Eating Disorder's in our society; recognize the collateral victims affected by the illness; clarify taboos and misconceptions about these diseases; and, create a better informed community capable to deal with eating disorders and its victims.