The National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) week is February 24th to March 1st this year, and to promote awareness the Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority (Tri Sig) hosted a Speak out in honor of the survivors and fighters of eating disorders. In my three years at JMU, I have never been to this event. Each year I have heard so many great things about the event and how inspired people were leaving the event. At first, I attended the event because my friends and I just so happened to be on campus and we thought “why not?”
When I first walked into Wilson Hall, all I saw was a sea of women wearing a shirt that read “You carry so much love in your heart give some to yourself.” I didn’t realize the effect that that quote would have on me until the end of the night. The night started off with a guest speaker, who spoke about her experience with her eating disorder, and then she opened the floor to some courageous women to tell their stories. Notice how I said women…and let that sit.
For the first 10ish minutes we sat in pure silence. I don’t know about you, but 10 minutes of silence can feel like 10 hours, especially when sitting in a large audience of people. But it only took one person to break the ice, and when that happened, it was woman after woman telling their stories and leaving an empowering message about body positivity. It was an unfortunate trend that I noticed while sitting there, when I took a second look around the room it was all women, except 2 men.
The biggest issue of them all was the relationship between social media and self-love. In this day and age, it’s no secret that social media has influenced many of our lives. However, many of those influences have not always been positive. Speaking for myself, even if I know that these photos are artificial and edited versions of these women, I still look in the mirror and compare my self to that. This event really opened my eyes and allowed me to reflect on myself in that way.
I feel like I really sat there and listened to there stories and I felt truly empowered. Honestly, at the root of it all, it was women empowering each other. At the end of the event, Leslie George’s father came to the podium and spoke about why speak-outs like this are important, even if it was his millionth time there, it spreads that awareness, and a message of self-love. As everyone got up to leave, people were hugging each other and telling one another “I love you” and “You are beautiful.” Which we should do every day. Don’t let the number of likes on an Instagram post determine your beauty. Let your heart do that, let your smile do that and let your laughs do that because no one else on this earth is you or could replicate you. You are unique and you are BEAUTIFUL.