The idea was to host the event during the National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDAwareness) week.

This year marks the 29 annual NEDAwareness week, which is a national effort to raise awareness for eating disorders and body image.

It took place from Feb. 21-27 this year and is an event put on by the National Eating Disorder Association.

Over 30 cities across the nation are participating in this year’s NEDAwareness week.

There were several different stations set up at the event for students to participate at.

There were booths set up by TranscendED, which is an eating disorder counseling center in Matthews, NC and were also sponsors of the event. The UNC Charlotte Counseling Center had a booth at the event also.

UNC Charlotte Dietitian Katie Powers also attended the event and was heavily involved in organizing it.

The final station of Southern Smash and the biggest attraction of the day was a scale smashing station, where participants could smash scales symbolically crushing the control that the scale had over them.

Courtesy of Keegan Cary.
Courtesy of Keegan Cary.

“That’s something you kind of want to let go, some kind of negativity whether it’s body image or just a negative though you had about yourself or your situation,” said Keegan Cary, host of the event and campus representative for So Worth Loving.

Southern Smash and So Worth Loving hold very similar purposes: to raise self-esteem of women all over the country.

Cary hosted the event with the help of Aubry McMahon and the two decided to combine So Worth Loving with the Southern Smash event.

“Southern Smash holds the idea that the scale doesn’t define you … and So Worth Loving says that ‘no matter … what you’ve been through, you’re still so worth loving’,” said McMahon.

“So we thought it would be great to put them together just to kind of help each other out, bring more awareness and positivity to campus,” said McMahon.

With 40 percent of college girls struggling each year with an eating disorder it was important to raise awareness about the disorder and to encourage others to help out someone who is struggling.

Photo by Ben Robson.
Photo by Ben Robson.

“It’s a bigger problem than what people perceive it to be. It’s kind of like an elephant in the room when it comes to our age group,” said Cary.

McMahon struggled with an eating disorder herself for the past six years. She was forced to drop out her freshman year of college to seek treatment.

Since transferring to UNC Charlotte, she feels that there are many students here that struggle with an eating disorder or are unsatisfied with the way they look and she hopes to help them through their situation.

“I guess when I transferred here, it was like a fresh start for me and I knew the kind of the living hell that I went through … and I didn’t want anybody here to be going through that,” said McMahon.

McMahon was never necessarily underweight, until just before she seeked treatment her freshman year. Her life was dictated by what the scale said and she feels that is something many other college girls struggle with.

“Getting on a scale everyday dictated my mood and what I was going to eat that day and that just wasn’t a healthy way of living and I know I’m not the only one that has lived that way,” said McMahon.

The event was originally scheduled to take place at the plaza outside of the College of Education and the College of Health and Human Services, but due to the forecast of potential storms, there was a last-minute change of venue and the event was moved to the SAC.

The last-minute change meant that not as many students were able to attend, but Cary and McMahon expect for a similar event to take place in the future.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder and 30 million Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

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Nick Cropper is the News Editor for the Niner Times. Currently, he is a senior pursuing a major in PR and a minor in journalism. Although he has lived in Charlotte for close to four years now, he is originally from Maryland. Contact him at news@ninertimes.com for questions or if you want to pitch a potential story.

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