A few years ago, I did a group project on the harms of “thinspo”, also known as “thinspiration”. “Thinspo” is media (pictures, videos, “before-and-after” compilations) that are made or distributed for the specific purpose of providing motivation for weight loss, or being “thin”. The images are often accompanied by a quote that encourages the reader to “stay strong” in their quest for thinness (a popular one being Kate Moss’s “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”).
The idea is that looking at these images (which often portray extremely skinny women) will help a person desiring weight loss to stay motivated in their quest for thinness (with thinness being primarily a “beauty” goal, rather than a “health” goal). There are entire Pinterest boards, Tumblrs, blogs and Instagram accounts devoted to providing “thinspiration” to the nations, continually posting new image and word pairings that urge their followers to “just keep going” (often past what is healthy) in their quest for thigh gaps and concave stomachs.
The research we read for the project showed just how harmful these pictures and quotes could be to a young woman’s (or young man’s) mental and eventual physical health. The studies often talked about how viewers’ self esteem lowered, and their body image was negatively impacted. Other findings surrounded how such content could often distribute or reinforce unhealthy, risky eating and exercise behaviours, potentially leading to physical harm down the road. Overall, the message that seemed to emanate from the research was that these images and quotes were powerful, but caused negative harms to the women and men who viewed them.
I know this is a digression from my “usually scheduled programming”, but I am getting somewhere “crafty” with this, I promise! Sometimes I just can’t hold the health-science nerd in me at bay 🙂
The project on “thinspo” got me thinking: if images and quotes on a webpage can have such a strong effect on someone’s way of thinking that it can cause real physical and mental harm, surely it could also do the opposite. I’ve always been a fan of motivational quotes and mantras for improving positive outlook, and I know pep-talks can have real effects on improving self esteem and self worth. There are plenty of amazing motivational memes and posters out there – I have a whole Pinterest board of them that I like to scan through on a day I need a bit of a “pick me up” – they often do the trick, and give me a better outlook on the day, at least for a little while.
Because of the power of these word and image pairings, I wanted to see if I could use this concept to inspire creativity and artfulness, which I find I need more of in my life! So I’ve decided to launch a “thoughtful thursdays” series on the blog, where I’ll try to post a new picture and quote pairing aimed at inspiring creativity every Thursday. Sometimes I’ll use my own pictures and pair them with a quote I’ve found and enjoyed, or sometimes I’ll mix it up and try my hand at creating quotes and perhaps pair them with a particularly inspiring photo of someone else’s.
I’ll try my darndest to ensure I give credit where its owed, as I definitely do not want to create negativity with this project through taking credit for others’ ideas. Please feel free to share them with friends who you think might enjoy a bit of creativity inspiration!
For the first Thoughtful Thursday on Urbanista At Home, I went with a picture I took last year of a Ladybug who had made herself at home on the ivy vines outside my home, and paired it with a beautiful, simple statement by H. Jackson Brown, Jr. (1991). I liked it because it reminds me that even if you’re going after your dreams on a large scale (perhaps career-wise or education-wise), it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the other little things that make you happy, such as being creative, working on side-projects, or being crafty.
For me, it helps me remember that even if I’m working hard at pursuing my career dreams and going after those long term goals, its still important to remember to do the little creative projects that make me feel happy and at peace. Creativity doesn’t have to take center stage in my life, but it doesn’t become any less important even if it’s acting in the supporting cast.
Take a look – I hope it brings a little bit of creativity inspiration to your Thursday.