By CRISTIN RUNFOLA
Published: October 23, 2013
The UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and Embody Carolina have partnered with Carolina House to bring Southern Smash, a non-profit eating disorder advocacy organization, to the Carolina campus. Featured on NBC33 Newscast and HuffPostLIVE.com, Southern Smash is one of the fastest growing eating disorder advocacy movements in the country. The organization hosts events at college campuses to raise awareness about eating disorders and promote healthy body image.
McCall Dempsey, founder of Southern Smash and self-proclaimed eating disorder survivor and recovery advocate, says that the project started out as a “wild idea” to put a sledgehammer to a scale for the purpose of SMASHing out unattainable numbers that “weigh us down.” Drawing from her own recovery from an eating disorder, Dempsey uses scale-smashing as means of “challenging women and men to redefine their worth outside the confines of numbers…whether it is a perfect weight, jean size, calorie amount, grade point average, miles or speed.”
The unrelenting pursuit of an impossible standard can cause serious emotional and psychological damage. Southern Smash quickly became much more than smashing scales, with its goal of putting an end to the associated negative self-talk, self-hate, and shame that diminishes self-esteem. They picked up on the significant need for education and awareness.
Smash activities empower us to change our culture and immediate surroundings. They include a BeYOUtiful Photo Booth, Let it Go Balloons, and Dare to Love Yourself cards that allow for a creative and fun means of changing our inner dialogue and practicing new ways of interacting with others. These activities teach us to deemphasize appearance, combat weightism, and gain acceptance of bodies that come in all shapes and sizes.
After a day of SMASHing, Dempsey hosts an intimate evening of SMASHtalk, which is an open discussion between students and eating disorder professionals about a number of topics including freeing yourself from fat/muscle talk, intuitive eating, eating disorder recovery, and genetics of eating disorders. “The goal of this discussion is to increase awareness and provide a safe place for people to come and get answers and support,” says Dempsey.
Dempsey adds, “We want to let women and men know they are not alone in their struggles and there is no shame in reaching out for support and help.” By partnering with the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders and the Carolina House, she hopes the Carolina community will utilize the specialized treatment programs that exist in their backyard.
Southern Smash Carolina panelists include:
- McCall Dempsey, Founder of Southern Smash
- Stephanie Zerwas, PhD, Associate Research Director at the UNC CEED
- Colleen Daly, MS, Founder of Embody Carolina
- Christy Rogers, MSW, LCSW, Clinical Director of the Carolina House
- Jenn Burnell, RD, LDN, Dietitian at the Carolina House
- Cristin Runfola, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor and GFED Scholar at UNC CEED
Smash sponsor, Christy Rogers who is Clinical Director of Carolina House comments, “Southern Smash is, to me, the most inspiring kind of eating disorder education/awareness organization because it comes from a woman who has personally felt the destructiveness of an eating disorder and the triumphs of a life in recovery.” She adds, “Her passion for ‘paying it forward’ after her experience in treatment is relatable and instills hope for others going through similar struggles.”
At Southern Smash events, individuals are afforded a unique opportunity to be the change they want to see in their community.
Dempsey believes that the Carolina Smash is going to be biggest smash event to date. We hope you join us at the first ever Southern Smash Carolina on Monday, October, 28th for scale smashing and activities from 11am-2pm (in The Pit), refreshments and panel greeting from 5:30-6pm, and SMASHtalk from 6-8pm (in the Student Union, Room 3408).
Southern Smash: Carolina Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/602545379757563/
Southern Smash Carolina Event Posting: http://southernsmash.org/carolina.html