Expanding on the conversation from my last post, I had the opportunity to talk to Emma Demar, a licensed social worker, recovered eating disorder activist and awesome human, to talk about her journey, the #FuelYourWhyProject and the influence of marketing on eating disorders.
A FELLOW #EDWARRIOR
Emma and I have been following for each other for a while on Instagram. In her posts, Emma consistently advocates for eating disorder recovery, self-care and body positivity with the accompanying hashtag, #edwarrior. Using this hashtag, she aims to create an inclusive community to let her followers know, "don't worry, we're in this together." So, I decided to reach out to her to see if she was interested in getting involved in the #FuelYourWhyProject. Without hesitation, Emma immediately replied, "Yes!" She feels that she relates to the #FuelYourWhyProject because of the way she viewed recovery and how she redirected her energy to be the person she is today.
"After being recovered, you need to fill the space and time with positive influences - a new direction for yourself and your thoughts."
That night, Emma shared this post with her followers about the #FuelYourWhyProject:
In her caption she wrote:
"For me, my why includes being creative, inspiring others and using my voice. I have always been a creative person in many ways and I knew in recovery that I needed to reconnect with my creative side to truly bring out the most authentic me...My why for me was about living my life to the fullest, accomplishing all of my goals and being an active participant in my life. Now, I challenge you to share your why and continue the #fuelmywhyproject!"
TRANSFORMING THE WHY
After this initial conversation with Emma, we expanded our conversation to talk more about her journey, her recovery and most importantly, her why.
When Emma was struggling with her own eating disorder, she knew that in order to get to recovery, she had to find an inner motivation. After seeing how it affected her and those around her, she decided that she did not want this disorder to take a toll on her life any longer. An underlying fear fueled this decision, as she did not want to get left behind in life by being consumed with her eating disorder. Emma gave herself the option of to be left behind or to move forward with her life - so she decided to move forward.
Finding the "why" in her struggle led her to recovery - which set a foundation for for her "why" today. After overcoming her eating disorder, she knew that she wanted to give back and be a support for those who are struggling. Emma wanted to take this negative situation that occurred in her life, and make a positive impact - she wanted more for herself and her life - and she did just that. After graduating with her Master's in Social Work at Fordham, Emma is now a licensed therapist, helping those who are struggling with eating disorders. In her position, she hopes to be an inspiration to others and be living proof that recovery is possible.
PAST & FUTURE MARKETING IMPACTS
After my last post about bridging the gap between brands and language, I shared my thoughts with Emma on this topic. She said that with the rise of social media and the number of young boys/girls using it, it leaves them in a vulnerable place for brands or celebrities to influence their thinking process. We both agreed that social media can be a place for positive, inclusive communities but also be a place where negativity lies. Because these boys and girls are impressionable at a young age, the language in these posts can completely change their inner narrative.
For example, Weight Watchers is offering teens free memberships this summer. The company argues that, "the program will help teens who need healthy habits to develop them at this critical life-stage: this is not about dieting." Critics, like myself, would have to disagree. There is a difference between promoting the diet culture and a healthy lifestyle - Weight Watchers definitely missed the mark here. Again, the promotion of this underlying expectation that we, either as teens or adults, need to fix something about ourselves to fit in the societal standard. These types of ploys need to be eliminated and the tone of the conversation needs to change.
From Emma's perspective, brands/influencers have the power to shift the conversation and eliminate this underlying expectation.
Stimulating online conversations about mental health and self care.
Showcasing untouched photos.
Utilizing real people, with real stories in advertisements.
That is what will break the mold.