Embody Carolina sponsored Southern Smash to raise awareness of eating disorders by smashing scales.
Sarah Leck, co-chairwoman of Embody Carolina, said the event was a public acknowledgement of how common eating disorders are among college students.
“College students are in a vulnerable state when all this change is happening,” she said. “So, to have this sort of tangible way to free yourself from those things that are holding you down is really important.”
McCall Dempsey, the founder of Southern Smash, said she struggled with her eating disorder for 15 years.
“The scale was something that just dictated my day,” she said. “It dictated my life.”
Dempsey said she’s done more than 30 Southern Smash events at different universities, but UNC’s program has become a flagship of sorts.
Bri Arey, co-chairwoman of Embody Carolina, said college campuses need to discuss eating disorders openly.
“We get a lot of people out here, so it’s a great way to help raise awareness and just help reinforce the idea that the scale isn’t everything and numbers aren’t everything,” she said.
Leck said body positivity is a critical message to spread on college campuses.
“Smashing scales is a really awesome, fun, engaging way to get people involved with self-love, with promoting body positivity, raising eating disorder awareness and proving to everyone that it’s okay to love who you are,” she said.
Morgan Welge, a member of Embody Carolina, said she’s been looking forward to Southern Smash for a while.
“It’s a really unique way of explaining our cause and what we’re trying to work for on campus,” she said. “And it’s fun because people can use some aggression. Everybody’s got a little stress in college — it’s kind of nice to get that out and put out a really positive message.”
The UNC Panhellenic Council and the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders also sponsored the event. Morgan Walker, a research assistant with the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, said she was excited to have Dempsey back on campus.
“Whether it’s weight or a GPA or any other number that just weighs you down, it’s incredible to come here and free yourself from that,” she said.
Dempsey said the prevalence of eating disorders on college campuses is too often ignored.
“Not a lot of people are talking about it,” she said. “It’s not just about eating disorders but it’s about body image; it’s about that worthiness that we all struggle with in some way, shape or form.”
“It doesn’t matter if you struggle with an eating disorder or not; we all know what it means to not feel loved or not feel worthy.”