What's the response been from the girls you've reached out to?
A lot of them will say, "I've tried other ways. This is the only way I can do this." A lot of them don't reply. And there's a very, very small, minute faction who say, "Guess what, today I talked to my parents." Or "I talked to my friends and told them what was going on." And while that's rare—super-rare—it's still comforting to know I might have saved someone.
The girls who have rejected that message—do you think they turn elsewhere on the Internet for eating-disorder inspiration?
You know, I'm sure they do. Tumblr isn't the source of all thinspo; there's still Twitter and WeHeartIt and even anorexia forums, where girls post photos. People have posted Reasons of mine on one of those forums, and it was troubling to me that people were using my Reasons for that.
One time—I remember this like it was yesterday—there was a picture that said, Reasons to Lose Weight, number something-something, that just said, "Six-pack." A girl re-blogged it and it said, "Trigger trigger trigger for the day. Not eating for the rest of the week." That made me go back and re-evaluate the content of my blog.
Did you make changes after you'd re-evaluated?
I did. My posts now focus more on my own journey; the Reasons I do post I try to moderate and make sure that the people submitting are submitting for healthy reasons. If I wouldn't use it as a reason to lose weight, I wouldn't want someone else to.
Do you have any favorite Reasons to Lose Weight images that you've created?
My first one was "So I can be a badass." [Laughs] It had a girl in a ripped shirt with really nice abs, and she was proud and mighty and it was just the defining moment where I said, you know what? This is what I want. This is when I'm going to make that change.
I don't think anything has ever compared to that one moment, but I think my favorite is "So I can be healthy." When I submitted it, it was one of my own Reasons, and I was really sad that more people didn't re-blog it. It only got, like, 100 re-blogs.
How many re-blogs do your posts get on average?
On average, maybe 300. But I've had some that have been in the thousands. That "So I can be a badass" one got maybe 3,000, and got something like 7,000 elsewhere. Another one that got super popular was one with a thigh gap—before I started stricter moderation. It got a ton of notes, and led me to some very scary thinspo blogs.
The thigh gap. That's a worrying fad.
A lot of people who are obsessed with the thigh gap are the girls that emphasize "thin" over "healthy." Looking at those girls' other posts is really scary.
Do you get a lot of submissions regarding the thigh gap?
Yeah. I do. I've had at least a hundred submissions for that.
And you don't post those?
The first place I came across your photos was when I was poking around the #thinspo tag on Twitter, and many of them were being used by pro-ana and pro-mia Twitter handles.