I wanted to try something different. Upon finding a number of pro-recovery Instagram accounts tagged with words such as #edrecovery, I decided to make one myself (@lovethighself) in order to use pro-ana hashtags in an attempt to subvert and effectively spam pro-ana communities. I posted hundreds of quotes that promoted recovery and body acceptance, as well as attractive pictures of average and plus-sized models. I also photoshopped some of the common pro-ana images to refute their harmful messaging.
These attempts were not intended to be dismissive of a mental illness I do not have, nor to raise the ire of people with anorexia or bulimia, but rather to enable users looking up these hashtags to reconsider their scrolling habits. I figured that not everyone looking at thinspiration has an eating disorder. Some who do may be on the verge of relapse from recovery, while others who don’t (yet) might be slowly becoming obsessed with their weight and curious about thinspiration and dieting tips, putting themselves at risk.
I soon received tons of comments thanking me and urging me to keep posting. “Please always keep this account. I’m going through an eating disorder and I’m fighting so hard but it pulls me down a lot and I just am still trying to overcome it. My screen saver is one of your pictures and it helps me so much,” wrote one follower. Many users who self-identified as having ana or mia in their bios began to follow me, and I started following some of them, too, providing support when I could. But sadly, because of the sheer mass of thinspiration pictures posted on Instagram every day, it’s been impossible for me to truly dent the thinstagram subculture.