By STEPHANIE ZERWAS
Published: October 3, 2014
This week witnessed the inaugural March Against Eating Disorders on Tuesday September 30th, 2014 in Washington DC. Coupled with the Eating Disorders Coalition fall lobby day on October 1st, the march united 28 non-profit organizations and many more individuals dedicated to fighting eating disorders. It was a historic moment for eating disorders advocacy.
Laura Thornton, associate professor and the deputy director of the Anorexia Nervosa Genetics Initiative, represented the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders at the March on Tuesday. This is how she described the scene on west lawn of the U.S. Capitol, “I was impressed by the visual impact of the sea of green and purple t-shirts. Anyone with a history of an eating disorder or a loved one affected by an eating disorder wore purple and those who had lost loved ones to eating disorders wore green. Seeing how often the green t-shirts appeared made an incredible impact and reminded everyone just how lethal these disorders are.”
But the impact of the March Against Eating Disorders wasn’t just limited to that little patch of lawn in Washington D.C. Via the March Against Eating Disorders Twitter and Facebook accounts, the virtual march brought the emotional power of the event to everyone with an internet connection. For a moment, the #MarchAgainstED was trending on Twitter and those of us following that hashtag felt like we witnessing a powerful and transformative moment. Even better, the virtual marched reached those who weren’t following the hashtag. Over 2 million people saw posts about the march through social media and the pictures and videos that were shared, like the ones below, busted the popular myths that only vain, spoiled girls are affected by eating disorders. We don’t often see the true diverse faces of those whose lives are derailed and too often destroyed by these illnesses in the media. Through social media, however, many came together to shed light on their devastating consequences and that light shone far and wide.