McCall Dempsey suffered in silence with an eating disorder for 15 years before she got treatment, and now she’s smashing scales across the country to tell women and men it's OK to forget the number on the scale.
Drexel University held its first-ever “Southern Smash” event Friday – where men and women slung sledgehammers on top of scales in an effort to crush the stigma that people need a perfect body image and to educate the public about the dangers of eating disorders.
Saturday marks the end of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and Southern Smash, a nonprofit organization founded by Dempsey, aims at empowering men and women to embrace true beauty and self-love and start the conversation about how people see their bodies.
The smash is “southern” because Dempsey is originally from Baton Rouge, La.
“I went into treatment in 2010 and when I left, I knew I wanted to pay it forward,” she said.
“The [smash] is a really great way to start a conversation about a serious illness that, frankly, not enough people are talking about. We’re losing 23 lives a day to eating disorders.”
She went through college and part of her marriage before she recovered from a mix of eating disorders. She says she often “ping-ponged” between ailments.
“We often think eating disorders are black and white, but there’s a massive grey in the middle,” said Dempsey.
“I didn’t get treatment until I was 29 years old. Now, it’s like you can’t shut me up.”
Drexel’s event also included participants writing, “let it go,” on balloons and letting them loose in the air as well as creating “Dare to LOVE Yourself” cards.
According to a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Anorexic Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), out of 185 females surveyed on a college campus, 58 percent felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83 percent that dieted for weight loss, 44 percent were of normal weight.
Coco Ellis is a health, fitness and wellness assistant within Drexel University’s Athletics Department. She said about 30 men and women came out to smash scales and prove their worth, despite the bitter wind chill.
“It was great to see these men and women let that out and let it go,” she said.
“Eating disorders are huge issues on college campuses and I think they’re far more prevalent than most people realize. A lot of people aren’t comfortable talking about it. [The smash] is a neat way to get people aware of the issue.”