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Too many would-be pinup girls trolling the popular "virtual pinboard."
Alarm is mounting over ways social-networking websites contribute to pressure girls and women face over their image.
A fresh survey from the Center for Eating Disorders found that nearly 40 percent of 600 respondents said they needed to "change specific parts of their body" after comparing pictures of themselves to that of friends on Facebook, while 1 in 3 admitted feeling "sad" when comparing their photos to friends' pictures.
The study has raised concerns about how the Internet may be encouraging eating disorders -- an affliction that claims the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, according essayist Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, who has also warned against conflating body image issues with eating disorders.
Pinterest, which describes itself as a "Virtual Pinboard," is attracting leagues of would-be pinup girls waxing "thinspirational." The website's image-driven platform is likely particularly tempting to picture-perfect, anorexic-inclined users.
More from GlobalPost: Israel bans underweight models from runways, advertising
A Pinterest spokesperson said starting Friday, users will be expected to report inappropriate content, the Daily Beast said.
"When I began researching for this story, I searched on Pinterest for content that was specifically 'thinspirational' and 'pro-anorexic,'' The Daily Beast's Isabel Wilkinson wrote, saying "thousands of images popped up."
One reportedly showed a thin girl sporting a shirt reading, “Make them regret the day they dared call you fat." Such images would be relatively easy for Pinterest users to spot and report as potentially causing self-harm. But other photos feign innocence, Wilkinson pointed out. Take a photo showing digitally-altered ultra-thin women frolicking happily on the beach in their bikinis. Why should such an image have to be reported to Pinterest authorities but freely exhibited on city billboards for, say, a gym advertisement? (That would actually be illegal in Israel due to recent legislation ordering advertisers to clearly label media that has been altered for image.)
The debate hinges on the evolution of the concept of "beauty" within society, a term that has been shaped by years of media-driven subliminal messaging that has proven harmful to many women.
But it's not just women -- as explained in the recent article "5 Ways Modern Men Are Trained to Hate Women."
Its (male) author put the situation bluntly: "what we learned as kids is that we males are each owed, and will eventually be awarded, a beautiful woman.
"We were told this by every movie, TV show, novel, comic book, video game and song we encountered," Wong wrote. "When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu 'Speed' Reeves gets Sandra Bullock, Shia LaBeouf gets Megan Fox in Transformers, Iron Man gets Pepper Potts, the hero in Avatar gets the hottest Na'vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE ... and so on."
The media depict these women as more or less amazing and perfect, Wong added, warning that "there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them."
But it's not enough to topple the idol -- or in this case, close the site. The Center for Eating Disorders recommends that girls be directed to healthy-image promoting sites like Proud2BeMe and End Fat Talk.
Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program and author of The Woman in the Mirror: How to Stop Confusing What You Look Like With Who You Are, welcomed Pinterest's decision to change its user restrictions as “definitely a step in the right direction."
She told the Daily Beast that protecting girls without curtailing freedom of expression is "something we need to grapple with—both within the eating disorder community, the media, and social media.”