By Leila Shadgou
Social media has grown to become a toxic environment for young generations, perpetuating narrow ideals. Unfortunately, this further institutes unattainable standards that lead impressionable individuals to manipulate their bodies to fit these “perfect” expectations. In effect, promoting edited images has produced a spike in concerns over body image and weight, forming a direct link to anxiety, eating disorders, and depression among social media users. This is a serious problem. If left unsolved, people will continue to alter their bodies in an unhealthy manner to reach an archetype that simply doesn’t exist. In order to eliminate this destructive cycle, Hunger for Awareness aims to have every person’s voice heard through normalizing discussion about these personal issues.
Hunger for Awareness (HFA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading awareness about the severity and prevalence of eating disorders, while providing the necessary resources for individuals and families to seek treatment. HFA places great emphasis on body image and mental health, seeing that there is a lot of judgment and competition to achieve a “perfect” body, one that never existed in the first place. With eating disorders commonly operating in secrecy and forcing the affected individuals to suffer from shame, HFA feels that it’s crucial to educate people on the compelling nature of these conditions by normalizing discussion.
The impetus for HFA, was born out of students, —Leila Shadgou and Liza
Tabachnik—who from their personal experiences, sought to educate their peers on the common misconceptions surrounding eating disorders and the impact on mental health. By creating a space to dialogue on these issues,, the hope is to eliminate the shame and stigma birthed from eating disorders. Through our shared humanity and experiences with eating disorders and body dysmorphia, HFA seeks to establish a community where courage, empathy, and vulnerability are cultivated. HFA welcomes and celebrates all who have previously struggled to navigate the trauma of these experiences, standing in solidarity for our collective struggle.
During these uncertain times, many are left to battle in isolation without the resources or support needed to properly cope as well as recover from these events. Especially within the younger generation, many are taught to deal internally with these issues, further upending the ability to traverse the complexities of body image and eating disorders. Historically, this issue stems from inadequate coping mechanisms in the absence of professional care, thus creating a spike in the prevalence of eating disorders across demographics, irrespective of ethnicity, age, or gender. Specifically, the glamorization and distortion of standards of beauty within social media platforms generates an unhealthy representation of physical appearance—misleading adolescents into destructive habits. Those deemed as social media Influencers have failed to use their platform to discuss body positive narratives, as their fame is rooted within images and “likeness” of perfection and idealistic lifestyles. From this, Hunger for Awareness was established as a resource for disrupting these elevated facades. Social media users, especially Generation Z, have become so desensitized that this has become a normalized representation of society and success.
HFA aims to dispose of the stigma surrounding body weight through the promotion of wellness and health in fitness. As a non-profit created by two young women, their determination seeks to partner with parallel organizations to reach a wider audience and provide more opportunities for connectivity. With that, HFA is launching virtual Zoom sessions in May and June. Offerings include yoga classes, mindfulness & meditation sessions, and peer support discussions, inviting professionals and body image advocates to facilitate conversations. One of HFA’s ultimate goals is to bring awareness, as an entry point to discussions on both high school and college campuses; enabling young women and girls to open up more freely about their experiences, while simultaneously ridding themselves of the shame associated with eating disorders.
For more information you can visit hungerforawareness.com