The beginning of this week marked the beginning of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Officially, it occurs the week of February 26th to March 4th and is run by the National Eating Disorders Association, otherwise known as NEDA. Every year, the association runs this in order "to shine the spotlight on eating disorders and put life-saving resources into the hands of those in need," as explained on their website. It's definitely a powerful and worthy cause that I was unaware of but grateful to learn about.
Marymount Manhattan College, a school that prides itself in making the environment as inclusive as possible, contributed to NEDA Awareness Week in its own beautiful way. Students and faculty alike took to the bathroom mirrors and began placing Post-It notes on them. Each note was adorned with a positive message about self worth, recovery, body positivity or just overall nice notes that could put a smile on anyone's face. The objective of the activity was described as writing a positive message to yourself. This specific angle of spreading positivity is especially incredible because it encourages people to not just be nice to others, which can be a pretty simple and natural task, but to be nice to themselves as well. Often this is a difficult thing to ask people to do, especially if they've suffered from an eating disorder or struggle with body image and self confidence issues.
Marymount made it a point to place these posters and Post-Its on the mirrors of every gendered bathroom, taking into consideration the reality that eating disorders affect people of all sorts of gender identities. These posters were also a great awareness tactic as they listed eating disorder's myths followed by respective facts. This allowed people to educate themselves while spreading a quick and small, yet resonating message of love.
These posters were inarguably an effective way for Marymount to participate in National Eating Disorder Awareness Weekt as well as the Post-It notes themselves, which were the truly admirable part of this display. I caught up with two freshmen who participated in writing notes and inquired about the content of their messages and what inspired them to write a Post-It.
1. "Be the change you want to see in the world." – Dominique Cagliuso
"As an International Relations student I have to remind myself that I am aiming to impact the world in a meaningful way. I also wanted to remind others that they should strive to do the same."
2. "Love yourself, know your worth." – Natalie Lazor
"I wrote this because I think it's really important to be comfortable in your own body and not be caught up in what everyone else thinks or says."
Both these quotes were moving in and of themselves along with the following, especially for me in a time when I didn't even know I needed to read them.
As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, witnessing my school come together to spread awareness and positivity nearly brought tears to my eyes. All these people believed that the epidemic of eating disorders was worthy enough of a week of banding together and showing love to each individual self in an effort to influence others of that behavior. I did not know about National Eating Disorder Awareness Week until Marymount and its efforts taught me about it. In an odd coincidental moment of my life, though, this week and Marymount's contribution impacted me extremely. Before I walked into the bathrooms at Marymount on Tuesday morning, I had been thinking about starting a food diary once again. I told myself it would only be a way to keep track of healthy eating and prohibited myself from counting calories. Even so, the voice of reason was whispering to me in the back of my head that this was not a good idea, especially with my history. I was still toying with the idea when I came across Marymount's beautiful display to combat eating disorder stigmas and spread a message about loving one's self and remembering one's worth.
Each wonderful little Post-It I read took me further away from wanting to start a food diary again and made me remember things I had learned in recovery and was still learning. They made me remember that falling back into an old habit would only make me fall into something else I was vulnerable to, that I was worth caring about and that I was more than my ugly past. I was so moved by everyone's ability to be nice to themselves with such ease that it inspired me to do the same. I did not have a Post-It note on hand, but I know exactly what I would have written. "Thank you" to myself for surviving all those years and for stopping and remembering in that moment all my worth, and more importantly, thank you to all those who took the time out of their day to be kind to themselves and write a Post-It note — you motivated me to love myself again.
Lead Image Credit: Maya Georgi