Self mutilation: This ‘fad’ spreading

Of the many social media networks, I am currently a user of Facebook, WordPress as a blogger, and Instagram @Holisticchicks. These sites have been great for me to not only promote myself as a health coach, but also to keep up with distant family members and friends.

I recently discovered what many of you already know: Instagram (owned by Facebook) is allowing and even encouraging anorexia, bulimia, self mutilation and suicidal support groups.

These groups support the “lifestyle choice” to be anorexic or bulimic.

These groups encourage suicide with words and pictures that pose questions like: “What’s stopping you?” and “Who would even miss you?”

The vulgarity and gruesome nature of the pictures and postings within these communities (I will not post specific hashtags for fear of encouragement) is such that I was unable to sleep until 1 a.m. this morning out of pure horror at the lives being so openly lost and the overwhelming number of participants involved.

Lives are being lost for the profit of Instagram. This new fad in “lifestyle choice” is all for the profit of Instagram.

The one thing that every single child involved with self hate Instagram usage has in common is that they all feel the need to belong to something. I want to be sensitive to the subject of such diseases as eating disorders and all who struggle with them, but I think it is also crucial to make it clear, to parents especially, that self hate is now spreading like wildfire — beyond the normal means of disease — to full-fledged plague status. Self mutilation, in its multitude of forms, is becoming one of the largest fads of late among junior high and high school youth.

Many parents would justifiably assume “That could never happen to my child. I’ve always taught them better than that, I’ve always been a good parent.”

Well, you were. However, regardless of individual upbringing, most people go through phases during their adolescence of feeling that they do not belong. It is at such times, as you probably remember, that you were susceptible to falling prey to things that were against your moral code of ethics.

Just like any addictive habit, it is easy to fall into disorderly eating, and self hate in general, but it’s an uphill battle to quit.

Self hate communities are deadly cults. They send powerful messages of self degradation to their members and followers. Who is in these communities? Any young person who needs to belong to something, and “ghost” accounts (accounts posing as real suicidal or sick individuals that are actually a group of ill-intentioned pranksters behind the veil of a fake account name).

Because Instagram refuses to put a halt on such communities, the responsibility relies solely on parents to get involved and to ask questions. Know what your child is up to online and who their friends are. Just as important — talk to your children about the pressures from media to be thin, among many things.

Feelings of failure where weight and body type are concerned are excruciatingly common among young women today, and yet this is merely the gateway emotion to more serious and even deadly frames of mind.

One of the best things you can do to not only build your child’s confidence, but also to form lifelong bonds with them, is to get out and exercise together. Not only do endorphins strengthen feelings of closeness and stability, but studies show that young girls who exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day feel happier about their bodies, and their self worth as a whole, than they otherwise would.

Be aware, stay involved and stay strong.

Ashley Gregoire is a mother of two young children, certified holistic health coach and owner of Holistic Chicks Health Coaching. She writes: “I am passionate about supporting women and youth throughout their journeys to health, wellness and confidence.”