Mother, Daughter warn others about dangers of ‘thinspiration’

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CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. -- 'Thinspiration is an online trend, but some are taking too far. Girls as young as 10 are sharing tips online on how to restrict calories, lose weight and sometimes even purge.

Brandi Brocato, a West Michigan mother, reached out to FOX 17 after our first story aired. She told us the topic really "hit home."

Her daughter, Abby Scott, attempted suicide about a year ago.

Brocato says she had no idea why Abby was so unhappy until she hacked into her daughter's social media accounts and couldn't believe her eyes.

Looking at 14-year-old Abby Scott today, you would never guess that behind her inviting smile is a dark and troubled past.

Abby Scott

"I got a message on Instagram from someone I didn't even know that said, 'Check on Abby' That was the most terrifying moment of my life," Brocato said. "I know if I didn't see it coming, there are so many other parents out there that didn't see it coming either."

Brocato found Abby just moments after she attempted to take her own life. "I still have nightmares about it," Brocato said.

Unaware of why her daughter was so unhappy, Brocato turned to social media for answers. Hacking Scott's accounts, she found thinspiration-type websites and apps.

"I was completely was shocked at what I saw," Brocato said: protruding rib cages and hip bones. Many of the images are hard to look at, the comments underneath them would break your heart.

Thinspo3

Abby told us that at first glance she was thrown back by the cyber world promoting unrealistic body images.

"A lot of the things on these blogs or pages, they would say, learn to love that feeling [of hunger]. It was like when I was hungry, it was an accomplishment," she said. "I would starve myself, and sometimes when I ate I would try and throw up."

Abby's self-doubt emerged in 7th grade. A year later it became worse. She continued to feed into the online pressures of thinspiration, while hundreds of strangers continued to tell her "thin is in."

"It was like a role model," Abby said. "I just wanted to do whatever I could to be pretty."

It's something Brocato didn't understand.

"I see only the great things in her and she doesn’t, and it’s going to be haunting us forever," Brocato said. "[The websites] are all so pro-anorexia to the point where they almost tell you (that) you should kill yourself if you can’t go through the starvation process."

Thinspo2

It's a sad reality Brocato is hoping to warn other parents and teens about.

"If you're going to let your kid be on social media, you’re the parent, not the friend. Get the passwords. If they change them, take away their rights," she said.

She adds that vigilance could very well save a life. It saved Abby's.

"Keep talking to your kids. Listen. Don’t just preach, just listen," said Brocato.

It's been a little more than a year since Abby attempted suicide, and she tells FOX 17 she's a lot happier now.

Brandi Brocato and Abby Scott

Her advice to other girls is that things do get better. Understand you're beautiful, and that everything will be okay.

"I still struggle with body image issues, but it’s not nearly as bad. I’m trying to love myself," Abby said. "Instead of hiding everything, you need to really tell people it’s not good to keep it all in, because you’ll break."

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3 comments

  • Kevin Rahe

    What a horrible thing for someone to reinforce and even publicly promote the acceptance of feelings that one’s body is a curse instead of a blessing, even when it’s completely healthy and in excellent physical shape. And the fact that our federal and some state and local governments are also doing that is doubly diabolical.

    • Brandi Brocato

      So Proud of my Baby Girl! Kevin, there are more than hundreds of these pages and sites, It truly is heartbreaking.

  • Donna

    Brandi is an amazing mother. Thanks to her vigilance her daughter is still alive today. I am so proud to call her my daughter.