Doctors say social media trend called Thinspo is a death sentence
There is a dangerous and deadly trend on social media called Thinspo, short for thinspiration. Women inspire each other to become dangerously thin by using pictures of emaciated body parts. Doctors say the desire to become that thin will kill women if they don't stop.
23 year old Kaelin Fink began throwing up after eating and limiting her eating when she was just 15 years old. The eating disorder ate away at her body for seven years before she finally hit rock bottom. She says the thinspo trend is taking women down the same destructive path she went down.
"It's a daily struggle. It's always there. It's never gone," said Kaelin. She says there isn't a day that goes by that her mind doesn't try to talk her out of eating.
After years of depriving herself of food, in an effort to gain some sort of control over her body and of her emotions, Kaelin hit her breaking point. Her parents took her to the hospital.
"I was passed out in the waiting room. The nurses came out and got me and my vitals were 30/40," Kaelin said. "It took them hours to get an IV into me because I was so dehydrated. At that point the doctor pulls my parents aside and said if she doesn't go somewhere she's not going to make it."
Kaelin was taken to Laureate Eating Disorder Treatment Center in Tulsa where she spent six months recovering. She says her struggle was an internal one, she didn't use social media. But this thinspo trend that offers encouragement on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr is making it even easier for women to fall into a trap.
"A lot of people together with the same problem is never a good thing," said Kaelin.
"I think a lot of youth are striving to lose weight because they think it will make them happy. In the end it actually does the opposite," said Dr. Amy Middleman, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at OU Medical. She says the mental changes that happen in women who have protruding hip bones and ribs, and thin arms and legs make it impossible for them to ever think they've gone far enough.
"You're actually more likely to have depression, more likely to have anxiety. And so for me it's a very disturbing trend," Dr. Middleman said.
Dr. Middleman says the brain actually shrinks when women become that thin, and it happens with every muscle in the body, even the heart. Many women die of cardiac arrest before ever dying of starvation.
Kaelin says thinspo users have no idea what they're getting themselves into. She has to live with the effects for the rest of her life. She says if you are someone who's struggling with an eating disorder or thinspo you need to seek help. She says you need to learn that no matter how thin you get, it will never make you happy.
"I'm best at this weight. I wasn't at my best 30 pounds lighter than this. I was at my worst," she said.
Right now Dr. Middleman is in the process of starting up an eating disorder center at OU. She hopes to have it up and running by January.