Eating Disorder Recovery Influencers Are On The Rise

Now this is a kind of influencer we can get behind.


As humans we have always been influenced by others. From cavemen looking at their mates and thinking I want a bit of that fire stuff, to women everywhere reaching for the scissors to get their own ‘Rachel’ haircut in the 90s, us people have always been an influential bunch. However, since the birth of the internet, the way in which we as people are influenced has been able to reach a whole new level.

The extent of the influence we succumb to today was demonstrated in a report by the BBC earlier this year which announced that social media platform, Instagram, had begun to act as a breeding ground for eating disorder influencers. But, the dark phenomenon the news outlet spoke of was nothing new. It was back in 2012 when Instagram, alongside Pinterest and Tumblr, prohibited the use of so-called ‘thinspiration’ tags previously used to promote eating disorders on their sites.

And while this move did reduce the immediate availability of content promoting disordered eating, it could not entirely prevent users who sought that type of content from using these platforms to fuel their issues in alternate ways. When ‘thinspiration’ tags were removed, users instead began to use the site to connect with peers experiencing similar dysphoric thoughts relating to food and encourage their negative thought patterns.

So, that’s why 7 years after the ‘thinspiration’ ban, Instagram is still a place where eating disorder influencers are rife. However, more recently the social platform has witnessed a much-needed counter movement; involving influencers who strive to use the site in order to promote recovery and turn it into a space in which sufferers can begin to heal.

Created by people who have previously found themselves struggling in the grips of eating disorders, much of the content available today came from influencers creating content which they had once found themselves searching for. One of the most high-profile influencers championing recovery is Rebecca Leung who says that, whilst suffering from an eating disorder, she used to search for the type of content which she now creates.

The kind of content which Leung is making is growing by the day. A quick search of the hashtag #eatingdisorderrecovery amasses more than 2million posts on Instagram. Likewise, if you head to Youtube, searches for ‘eating disorder recovery’ generate pages upon pages of results of vloggers detailing their journey to recovery.

Not only are these recovery influencers helping to pull sick people out of harmful behaviors, but they are also helping to combat the often damaging stereotypes which surround eating disorders and sufferers. For too long the picture of an eating disorder patient has been portrayed as a binary image of a young white woman, when the truth is that nobody is immune from this kind of disease.

As more and more people speak out as part of this recovery influencer movement, we are slowly seeing such narrow stereotypes be defeated and people of all genders, races and ages be validated in their experiences with eating disorders.


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