In a previous post, Judy introduced the newest members of the Someday Melissa team and I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful opportunity to share information and education about the film “Someday Melissa” and eating disorders. My name is Elizabeth Gough-Gordon and I am pursuing my doctorate in media studies at Rutgers, specializing in gender and the media. I have witnessed the pervasiveness of misinformation about eating disorders both on college campuses and in society. Stigmas about even discussing the topic of eating disorders linger in our culture, and I hope to help Someday Melissa in breaking down the walls for greater awareness and education. I am honored to be able to contribute to this platform for education and discussion supporting the core mission of Someday Melissa: to educate about the warning signs of eating disorders and encourage action towards helping others.
I was shopping in my local Target store earlier this week and paused when I reached the back-to- school section. I remember fondly when I purchased the essentials for my freshman dorm room before I started the first year of college. Towels, comforter, shower caddy…. and a scale? Seeing the large display of bathroom scales among the other so-called “dorm essentials” made me ponder our perception of the scale. Scales are certainly present in many homes, but what message does it send?
It’s no secret that our society is focused on numbers, as if those digits are the end-all representation of our self-worth. What was your grade point average in school? How much money do you make? How much do you weight? Our value cannot be determined by one single item, yet the scale is tied to body image and self-esteem for so many people and throughout our popular culture. In 1965, Mattel toys released Slumber Party Barbie, which included a scale set at 110 pounds. If Barbie is tied to a scale while supposedly having fun at a slumber party, it’s no wonder that the scale represents so many issues and conflicts with weight and body image.
How do we break this cycle? Sometimes it takes a brash physical action, like smashing a scale to incite a symbolic break towards positivity; this has led to the phenomenon of scale bashing, also known as scale smashing. At its simplest, it is causing destruction to an everyday scale used to weigh oneself. More than just causing harm to the device, it is also a promise to oneself towards freedom from judging self-worth based on what number appears on the scale.
Scale smashing is not a new phenomenon, but the Internet has provided a space for people to share their smashing in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. A search on YouTube for “scale smashing” and “scale bashing” found a variety of videos, from groups to individuals taking out their frustrations of the scale to stop the cycle of obsessing over numbers with body image.
The Internet is a great resource for sharing videos of scale smashing, but many groups have also arranged in-person events to bring individuals together for this cause. This summer, a scale bashing event was organized in New Jersey by Kylene Marie Roth, after learning that her therapist had led several similar events on the West Coast.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Have you participated in a scale-bashing event or watched these types of videos? If not and you do own a scale, would you consider symbolically breaking the cycle through physical actions like these? Please leave a comment below!
Mixed messages. Definitions include:
- An unclear message; usually two contradicting messages.
- A communication that is contradictory or inconsistent.
Eating disorders are champions at sending mixed messages, at creating havoc, but those aren’t the mixed messages I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the emails and Facebook messages I receive every day. From people struggling, feeling hopeless, seeing only darkness, feeling ED’s grip tighten. I can feel the despair as they write:
- “I’m struggling….”
- “No matter how hard I try I get nowhere….”
- “How is it I can help others with ED but not myself?”
And then I get messages that read like poetry, from people in recovery who write:
- “It’s been a very long road and there were many years in which I wanted to give up, but now at 32, I am healthy.”
- “Yesterday was my 1 year of being in recovery. I struggled 11 years…and never made it more than 2 weeks without behaviors. I am living my ‘someday’.”
- “Bulimia made me feel hopeless. And now I feel hope and wish I could tell every single person who is afflicted and terribly burdened by an eating disorder that there is a way out of that dark hole.”
- “I struggled with anorexia and bulimia in my later teens and early 20s before making a full recovery.”
What causes these mixed messages? What allows some people the strength to battle their way through the ups and downs of the long road to recovery? I’m certain all of them felt the same despair at times. But what kept them going? What kept them fighting? There’s no single answer, no one path, I wish it were that simple.
When you’re in the grip of ED, in and out of treatment, seeing others relapsing, taking two steps forward and one step back, it feels impossible to believe anyone truly recovers. But people do. All the time.
To those of you in recovery: what can you share with those still struggling? What kept you going when it seemed impossible? What was your motivation, your inspiration? What are you doing in your life that you never thought possible when ED controlled you?
Please share your experiences with those still struggling.
Someday Melissa is proud to present our new website. The site features a new look, an updated trailer, and links to our Twitter and Facebook pages. You can also find out about hosting a screening.
My name is Judy Avrin. On May 6, 2009 my beautiful 19 year old daughter, Melissa, lost her life to an eating disorder. Her five year battle with bulimia wreaked havoc on her academic success, her friendships, and our family.
Throughout her life, even in her darkest moments, Melissa’s creativity shined through. It was always hard for her to express her feelings verbally so she used film making, writing, drawing and acting as means of self-expression. “Someday Melissa, the story of an eating disorder, loss and hope” is a documentary inspired by Melissa’s journal writings. I have made it my mission to speak out and help break through the wall of secrecy and shame surrounding eating disorders.
The Someday Melissa blog is a place to inform, to raise awareness of eating disorder symptoms, to make parents aware of early signs, to ask questions and to share. I battled bulimia for over 20 years but there was so much I didn’t understand about eating disorders, so much denial in the beginning. I had no idea that my history put Melissa at higher risk for developing an eating disorder. I learned a lot, the hard way, through the ups and downs of Melissa’s battle. I will be sharing what I learned as a parent. Some of the things I wish I had known during our journey.
Until now, I have been the voice of Someday Melissa on all platforms (social media and beyond). Now, I’d like to introduce the other voices/members of the Someday Melissa team: Danna, Elizabeth, and Misty.
Danna Markson, LCSW
Danna is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of clinical experience. She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from NYU in 1994 and has a post-graduate certificate in Family Therapy. Danna is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – which teach concrete coping strategies to manage emotions, thoughts and situations. Danna has a private practice in Livingston, NJ, specializing in psychotherapy with children, adolescents, adults and families.
After her own battle with Anorexia and Bulimia in college, and with twenty years in recovery, Danna now specializes in the treatment of Eating Disorders.
Elizabeth Gough-Gordon is pursuing her doctorate in journalism and media studies at Rutgers University, specializing in gender and media. She has witnessed the pervasiveness of misinformation and the stigmas about eating disorders both on college campuses and in our culture, and as part of Someday Melissa she hopes to help break down the walls for greater awareness and education about ED. Previously she worked for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and worked on educational initiatives for practitioners and the general public, including a documentary on college student suicide and depression. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and cheering for the New York Yankees.
Misty Layne has been in recovery from her eating disorder since 2007. A graduate of Jacksonville State University and former Southern belle, Misty moved to New Jersey two years ago. As a former blogger who wrote numerous posts about her struggles with ED, depression and more, Misty offers blog visitors a unique perspective into the world of ED and more importantly, is able to state with intention that it does indeed get better. Besides her work at Someday Melissa, Misty is also a staff writer for Rogue cinema, runs her own movie website and has written two novels and has self-published a book of poetry.
Our future posts will discuss a wide variety of topics including eating disorders, body image issues, the impact of media, and of course, news about Someday Melissa. We are not eating disorder professionals and cannot provide treatment advice. However, we will share our unique perspectives and experiences and hope to hear from you as well.
If you or anyone you know (or maybe even suspect) could be affected by eating disorders (“ED” from here on out), this is a safe place to find some advice, some answers and community. This site is a place for positivity and hope.