National Eating Disorders Association
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How Activism Helped Me Recover

Jamiee Foster

Last February, I finally told my family about my six-year struggle with an eating disorder, and I decided to pursue treatment. It was terrifying but I knew I needed it. Even though it was my choice, I was really freaked out.

I had never talked about my eating disorder with anyone before, and in the span of two weeks I ended up telling more people than I can remember—doctors, therapists, friends, my parents, intake specialists. It was all very overwhelming.

Going through that, I began seeking out a community that would “get it.” I ended up on the internet, and that’s how I discovered National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Coincidentally, I started my treatment about two weeks before NEDAwareness Week  started, so I began looking for any kind of related programming on my campus, thinking I would find the community I was looking for there. To my surprise, on NYU’s activist-filled campus of over 20,000 undergrads, I found almost nothing.

So, given there wasn’t anything planned for the entire NYU community, I decided to plan something. I coordinated Body Positivity photo shoots in residence halls, and created a Facebook event where I posted educational materials and support resources. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the reception was incredibly positive. We took over 550 photos on campus, and the reaction shocked me.

People that I knew, people that I vaguely knew, and a good number of people that I didn’t know at all reached out to me to thank me for doing this type of programming, and to share their own stories. I was floored. For so many years, I had struggled alone, thinking that I was the only person in my life going through something like this, when, in reality, many people that I interacted with could relate. It was eye opening, incredibly validating, and really helped me with my recovery.

This year, I reprised my programming for NEDAwareness Week, this time having photo shoots in every residence hall on campus and adding in a digital discussion about eating disorders and body image. Again, the response was similar. I’ve had people I didn’t know reach out to me, asking how they can get involved and what else is happening during the week. People are very appreciative of the community that’s being built around this issue. It’s really powerful, and it’s taught me a huge lesson: you don’t have to go through it alone.

That was a huge step in my recovery process. It showed me that there are other people out there who get it, and it made it easier for me to share my own story out loud. I learned that talking about it could actually help. In creating the space for people to talk about eating disorders and body image, people started sharing their experiences, and that showed me it was okay for me to share my story. I’m incredibly grateful that I got involved with eating disorder advocacy, because not only did it help me recover, it also showed me that there truly is strength in numbers.

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Jamiee is a senior at New York University studying Math, Sociology, and Social Entrepreneurship. Feeling confident in her recovery about 1 year in, she hopes she can help others by talking about her own experiences. She's passionate about fighting for equality, helping others, and cats. For more information about Jamiee's programming at NYU, check out this article.

This content was originally published on Proud2BMe.org in 2015.

For more on body image and recovery activism, check out our Body Activism Activity Guide