Thinspiration Videos: Progress?

“Thinspiration” videos and pages have been popping up all over the web.  As discussed in the bioethics of cybermedicalization, it is hard to ever find a true black or white on these issues.  Original “thinspiration” videos got a lot of hype, and were eventually seen as a negative thing by most of the world.  One of these reasons is how it encouraged girls to strive for unattainable means.  With photoshop and airbrushing, these photos are often not “real” people, which means some girls will die trying to achieve the impossible, by having that perfect, and truly unattainable body.  How can one ever reach the impossible? Another reason that thinspiration was viewed in a negative light is that ways of “attaining” that body would often be embedded in the video or in the text beneath, encouraging starvation if it was necessary. To combat this, some have tried to make “healthy” thinspiration videos. For example,

This video encourages girls that “thin doesnt have to mean anorexic”, and attempts to promote a healthy approach to weight loss.  But the problem is, the pictures they are using are again, unattainable. Using mainly celebrities who have obviously been airbrushed, it creates again an unattainable body that people can fight to the death for.  So, what is the next logical type of thinspiration to employ? How about healthy bodies which are naturally thin?

So called “real girl” thinspirations are real girls, NOT celebrities with airbrushed perfect bodies.  Yet again, it is encouraging girls to reach unhealthy standards.  These girls may be naturally thin, or may be using unhealthy methods to get there. But even if they are naturally thin, girls who are not as thin as that who want to lose weight will try to attain something that will never be there body type.  For example, you could end up weighing 100 pounds, but if you naturally have wider hips, no amount of weight loss will change that.

The negative is all thinspiration promotes that where you are, right now, is not good enough.  Why can girls not be viewed as beautiful, and view themselves as beautiful, just the way they are, at this very moment? Some may argue that some people are trying to get inspiration to lose those stubborn pounds that are putting them at risk for diabetes and other weight related diseases.  Well then isn’t becoming HEALTHY your inspiration? Knowing you will see your daughters wedding day, or can spend more time with family would be more appropriate.  It is not bad to want to lose a bit of weight and look sexy.  But when it becomes a need instead of a want, and happiness becomes a destination rather than something that is with us through that journey, that is when weight loss can become a negative thing.  Weight loss over striving for a perfect (unattainable) body is a much better goal, and thinspiration videos does not promote this.

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Pro-Ana Websites: The Ethical Contradictions

In “The Bioethics of Cybermedicalization” the authors mention how individuals’ (young women, as they pointedly identify) choices to live with their untreated eating disorders can be perceived as a lifestyle choice. Miah and Rich then outline the ethical problems that come into play, such as whether or not certain cases can be justified in favour of medical intervention, and also, whether or not these individuals are competent in their judgments and lifestyle decisions. The essay uses the general example of pro-ana websites to examine the moral and ethical issues that arise with bioethics, and how they are translated online.

With the purpose of exploring this topic, I visited various pro-ana sites. Most of these sites established in their introductions or welcome pages that they were not promoting eating disorders. Many also restricted access to their forums and chat rooms to only those who had eating disorders and met age requirements. One site (http://pro-ana-nation.com/) issued a warning that you must be 18 years or older to enter their site. Although I am 19, I recoiled from going any further because I was wary of what kind of content I would be exposed to. Other sites, such as Pro Ana Online (http://proanaonline.com/), advertise that it is not a pro anorexia site, but that it exists “to offer a community to those with eating disorders”. Pro Ana Online also states that it does not offer diet or weight loss tips.

However, I noticed that this site, and many others like it, seemed to be embedded with ethical contradictions. For instance, despite Pro Ana Online’s assertion that they are not promoting anorexia, on its page of links it lists a number of other sites and blogs that seemingly do. This includes Thinspo links (http://thinspox.tumblr.com/, http://thinspox.tumblr.com/) which are blogs that provide “thinspiration” through photos. What I noted was that these thinspiration sites, as well as Pro Ana Online, warn that they are “trigger sites”, meaning that they could impede the progress of someone working towards recovery from an eating disorder. To me, all of these warnings and labels are confusing and misleading. If these sites are confirming their roles as triggering, can this role be viewed as supplementing the promotion of eating disorders? Additionally, do you think that pro-ana sites may be a “productive aspect of the recovery process” (213) as Miah and Rich ask us to reflect upon in their essay?

Anybody Out There?

SWF, 25, looking for long term, (long distance?) relationship. I’m from Vancouver, Canada but love can be anywhere, right?

I’ve never tried sites like this before, but I figure it’s worth a shot. I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in Communications and I’m aspiring to be in advertising one day. I’m currently a waitress and working on paying off my student loans before taking on the world.

I grew up on a farm so I love horseback riding and the outdoors. I go camping and hiking all the time in the summer with my friends and family. The best place I’ve been to has got to be around Tobermory and Bruce Peninsula National Park. I’ve been into sports ever since I was 6. I figure skate, swim, and play volleyball and I try to work out every now and then. I’m an avid reader as well. When I’m not busy, I love to wind down with a good book and a mug of green tea in my Snuggie (yes, I bought one!). I love music too. I can tolerate just about anything except for most rap. I’m very corny but some would say I’m traditional. I’m not much of a cook (I make a mean bowl of cereal!) but I’d like to take classes one day.

My ideal guy: taller than me (I’m 5’5″), great sense of humour, and a love of the outdoors. He should be college educated with an eye on the future.

Sound intriguing? Shoot me a message and maybe we’ll talk some more. xox

The above was an example of an ad that one may find on a personals’ site. As a male, it was definitely a little stranger than usual writing from a perspective, but it was pretty fun (in a weird sort of way). As we know, it is not uncommon to see males assuming the persona of a female online (and vice versa). But are there some people who would assume the opposite gender roles in personal ads? Maybe. Personal ads on dating sites try to be realistic; after all, you are trying to connect to real people with real information. However, no matter how delicate situations like online dating can be, there is always the potential for a falsification of one’s personality.

Take this video for instance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mTTwcCVajAc
The video is of a girl posting on EHarmony; it’s been widely seen by now and is commonly believed to be a spoof. Nonetheless, it seems real enough to be an actual ad.

Internet Dating: Relationship Redefinition

In the book, “The Shallows”, by Nicholas Carr, the author discusses how our intellectual technologies (writing, the typewriter, the Internet) ‘rewire’ our brains as a result of frequent use. While Carr describes, in particular, how the Internet restructures our brain processes, as in how our minds function, I noticed that Lawson and Leck’s essay observed how the Internet challenged society’s predominant ways of thinking. Their essay about online dating examined in detail the variety of benefits of this courtship medium, but many of these attractions also challenged traditional social expectations and norms.

For instance, the sanctity of marriage is redefined. Recurring points in the essay pointed to the fact that users of online dating are often married, and their use of these sites is not restricted by this circumstance. Therefore, the traditional perceptions of marriage fidelity and exclusiveness have been reshaped by the online world of possibilities. These online dating sites both permit and promote coveting, as well as the explorations of multiple relationships. Internet dating platforms transform acts that generally have been viewed as sinful, scandalous or ‘wrong’, and portrayed them as the new acceptable social norms. And we have accepted them.

As well, these dating sites disrupt the conventional, and yes, stereotypical, notions of gender roles. Lawson and Leck’s essay examines how adolescent girls choose to explore their sexual aggressiveness online, and how both male and female users take advantage of the anonymity to explore opposite gender experiences. Women, who have most often been portrayed as the weaker sex in media, seize this opportunity to divert from this persona and adopt a more assertive attitude in their relations with  men. While the media also constructs the ideal man’s man, online dating sites offer men a chance to experiment with their understandings of the female perspective. However, it is important to note that these disruptions of conventional gender definitions proliferate because of the Internet’s lack of repercussions and its separation from the users’ real life identities.

I simply found it very interesting to note how the Internet not only affects the physical design and workings of our brain, according to Carr, but how Internet services have also altered our ways of thinking about the world around us. Online dating services replace old values and social behaviour and grant opposing ones status. Internet dating has thus done more than simply change the dating process for men and women. As a result of the availability and the promises of dating sites, we have also adapted our perceptions of relationships entirely.

Dating and Marriage in Online Games

While online dating sites provide the sole purpose of meeting a familiar, online games do not only give you the opportunity to date, and sometimes even marry  another character (Perfect World), but they also provide the chance to play at many other things. It is like you are creating a new life in some of these games, and by dating another online character, it takes gaming to a whole new level. I played perfect world for a very short amount of time before switching to WoW, and I was astonished to learn that players could actually “marry” other players (I think you can in World of Warcraft as well but I am not sure). Sure, it doesn’t involve anything legal, you don’t actually marry the person behind the character, but It felt very strange to me. Marriage is supposed to be the ultimate and final step in sealing a relationship, but in various games that offer this extension, they seemed to be treating it rather lightly. While online dating sites require you to post a picture and talk about yourself, online games allow the player to build a character and a persona. They can tell people whatever they want without having to worry about retribution, and perhaps this “rules free” lifestyle makes them think it’s okay to marry another player inside the game. Marriage within the game, from what I understand, will actually give your player many benefits and rewards, so I think it is safe to assume (to a certain extent) that some games like Perfect World encourage this sort of behavior. My question to you is as follows; how do you think online dating differs from dating within an online game, and what do you think about the option to marry another player? Would you do it if you were dating another character and they asked you to?

Social Networking and Consumerism

When investing in a new cell phone, camera or moderately expensive item, how many of you research online to find the best product? When searching, do you look at the products own homepage, or look for a site that has reviews? I know that I trust the opinions of customers much more than the opinion of the product (because they are only trying to make a profit off of me).

When I was looking for a new digital camera, I went to a host of sites, comparing different models and makes. Whenever I went to the homepage for an actual product, they made it sound like the best thing since sliced bread, but only when I saw reviews did I learn the faults with each camera. Though each product had an educational site, only when I considered the costumer reviews did I truly feel informed.

Though this looking at reviews may seem self evident, it is actually quite new. We now have a market that is run by the consumer rather than the producer. Social networking, or at least the availability of discussion online, allows this. Biased remarks and praises of the producer are not the only form of product knowledge anymore. Good advertising comes in the form of good reviews.  I think that society no longer trusts the ad made by the company (though they are still essential to marketing for awareness), but it is the response from the online society that makes or breaks a product’s success.

Social Media and Internet Fame

In today’s technological world, it’s a lot easier to get noticed and gain a following due to the internet and social media. The main example of this concept would be YouTube. On YouTube, people are always uploading their videos in hopes of gaining recognition and fame through the internet. The way that this happens is through the spreading of the videos with the use of social media. Literally overnight, a simple YouTube video can go from hundreds or thousands of views to millions of views if promoted through the right blogs and other social media websites. One of these examples is a spoken word poet turned rapper named George Watsky. Looking at his upload history on YouTube, he has uploaded several spoken word videos before he tried uploading his first rap video. In an interview he talks about how he was nervous at first about posting it, but then decided he might as well. As soon as he posted it, he told all of his friends to try to spread the word about it and get some people to watch it. It got noticed by a few large websites, such as reddit.com (whom he goes on to credit in one of his later songs) and it instantly went viral. He said a few days later he had friends that he had on Facebook that he barely knew, and who didn’t know it was him, linking it to their profiles telling their friends to check it out. The video now has over 14 million views, and Watsky has gained a lot of fame and popularity as a rapper. The video not only got him a lot of views, it is pretty much the sole reason his rap career is doing so well. Through his YouTube fame he has been able to collaborate with other popular musicians and release a lot more music.

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6XLswqiX0s&feature=fvwrel

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