The Thinspo Slave Market

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

The artist Jean-Leon Gérôme’s 1884 work, “A Roman Slave Market” is a startling example of image on display. It portrays a naked woman, up for sale to an enthusiastic crowd. It made me think of how image, especially female image, is offered up so easily and cheaply in our culture today. Some of its most extreme manifestations, unfortunately, extend to disordered eating and body image issues.

And nothing captures disordered image up for grabs like that of the “thinsperation” or “thinspo” movement. This internet phenomenon is epidemic, with blogs, photos, essays and posts, glorifying emaciation.

“In a 2009 survey by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven of 711 Flemish high school students aged 13–17, 12.6% of girls and 5.9% of boys reported having visited pro-ana websites at least once…

“…Pro-ana sites can negatively impact cognition and affect. Women who viewed a pro-ana site, but not control sites focused on fashion or home décor, experienced an increase in negative affect and decreases in self-esteem, appearance self-efficacy, and perceived attractiveness. They also reported feeling heavier and being more likely to think about their weight. The effects of perfectionism, BMI, internalization of the thin ideal, and pre-existing ED symptomatology as moderators of negative affect were comparable to chance, suggesting that pro-ana websites can affect a broad spectrum of individuals, not simply those with ED characteristics…”

It all comes back to dangerous coveting and just how far that coveting can damage us, especially those of us who are struggling with any form of eating disorder or body image challenge.

There’s a concept out there; “what you focus on the most, becomes the strongest in your life.”

And, we know all too well how weight loss obsession and body dissatisfaction can target the female population. After all, this statement still holds relevance:

“The #1 wish of girls 11-17 years old is to lose weight.”
Body Wars: Making Peace with Women’s Bodies, by Margo Maine, Ph.D.

But, unfortunately, now we also have tiny tots, both male and female, who are afraid to eat sugar or fat because they’re afraid to get fat themselves. We have toddlers and preschoolers excessively exercising, weighing and measuring themselves and their food, again, for fear of getting fat.

What we focus on the most…

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. 1 John 5:21

Coveting. We want what we see. So, if we see dangerous, unhealthy and emaciated images of who we should be, is it any wonder why there are so many of us “dying to be thin?” There is, indeed, a thinspo slave market going on.

Say what you will about eating disorders: it’s genetic, it’s environmental, it’s a disease. It still doesn’t change the fact that these distorted images and messages do nothing to help one’s health. Triggering thinspo images and advice can even lead to actual death.

Thinspo is dangerous, enslaving idolatry.

Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god… Psalms16:4

And no effective power can come from it…

What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it… a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols…there is no breath at all in the midst of it. Habakkuk 2:18-19

Thinspo gives the illusion of strength, power and unattainable perfection. And, in its pursuit, the results are often filled with despair.

Think differently about it? Think “thinspo” is working for you?

How happy versus miserable are you right now as you place your own life and body on its slave market?

And spiritually, how at peace are you?

God never called us to live like this. He called us to love and to be in close relationship with Him. And He has a better way in which we are to view ourselves…

O my dove…your form is lovely.” Song of Solomon 2:14

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Psalm 139:14

He has created and called each one of us in His Image, declaring us “good” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Therefore, let’s choose to no longer be enslaved by a lying, harmful image. Let’s believe in who we truly are.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Let’s end the slave market.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:7