Last week was National Eating Disorder Week. As my platform as Miss Teenage GTA 2014 is eating disorder awareness, I decided to become involved with not only this week, but the whole month. February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month, so I’ve been very active this month by spreading awareness!
I even posted my transformation picture, sharing my story with my experience with an eating disorder. The feedback I got from people was overwhelming; everyone was so proud of how far I’d come, and it made me truly proud of myself.
I continued posting inspirational pictures and quotes in order to spread positivity. Having had an extremely low self-esteem for a long time, I know firsthand what it’s like to not love yourself. My goal with this platform is not only to raise awareness about the illness, but also to promote positive body image and self-esteem. I even left encouraging comments on Instagram pictures of people going through recovery, because a simple compliment can make someone’s day.
For the week, I wanted to raise awareness at my high school, as teenagers are in a group of people more likely to develop eating disorders. I knew how much work this would take so I started right away! I sent a five page proposal to my vice principal that thankfully got approved! I got a few of my friends to help, along with the members of a club I’m in called MHA (Mental Health Association). We put up posters around the school, which I got online from NEDA and NEDIC, and also made announcements on the PA system about the week.
I set up a table in front of the cafeteria at lunch, which had several handouts and pamphlets. They included everything from “What is Anorexia?” to “Ten Steps to Positive Body Image.” I also downloaded these for free from NEDA’s website. NEDA has extremely helpful information on how to get involved, along with resources like these handouts! I made my own helpline cards, which included life-saving contact information, both locally and nationally. A few people came up to my table and I informed them about the issue. I even walked around the school and handed out papers personally. It felt amazing spreading awareness, and I got a lot of positive feedback.
I asked everyone to wear purple, the national colour of eating disorder awareness, on Wednesday. I was astonished at how much purple I saw! I walked around to homeroom classes and counted how many people wore purple. Needless to say, my school did an incredible job! Go Maple!
This is only the beginning. I have already planned another event a month from now, in which I’ll be making presentations to every class in my school about eating disorders and body image. The students will get more knowledge on the subject and even participate in activities! I can’t wait!
Planning an event for Eating Disorder Awareness Week taught me how much work and detail is needed to be put into an event like this. It’s important to find ways to convey the message to all kinds of people, in different ways. Social media plays a huge factor in my platform, as it’s a great way to spread awareness and cause a greater impact. My goal is simply to spread positivity and help people to love themselves. There are many ways to do this, but even a smile to stranger walking down the street, or a “you look really nice today” to a friend can make all the difference.Xoxo, Odeta