Rita Offutt, Editor
Header Image: Renfrew Center
The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders launched the “Live Your Real Life” campaign, which addresses social media and body image, as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which runs from Feb. 21-27.
According to The Renfrew Center’s website, the campaign was developed to “reflect on the impact social media has on your body image and mental health. You deserve to empower yourself and embrace the real you.”
In a press release about the campaign, the organization described how the “Live Your Real Life” campaign will push against some common social media practices, saying “social media is often referred to as a highlight reel. Posts on platforms with a photo-sharing component tend to depict only the perfect moments of people’s lives rather than the full picture. This National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, The Renfrew Center is encouraging people to reverse this trend by taking pictures of their real-life selves — photos that aren’t perfectly curated for a highlight reel — and sharing them using the hashtag #LiveRealWithRenfrew.”
On social media, the hashtag #LiveRealWithRenfrew has been used to spark conversation about eating disorders and to give those in recovery a platform to share their stories. One community account on Instagram, @boycottthebefore, has partnered with the Renfrew Center to encourage women to share their “authentic” selves. A post from Feb. 16 reads, “The Renfrew Center is a place I hold near and dear to my heart as it was a safe place for me to recover and find community… Many of us get caught up in highlight reels and perfectionism. When we see how we all lead perfectly imperfect lives, we can better embrace our true selves… Together, let’s celebrate the real and the now.”
The social-media-focused effort coincides with the release of a new study from the Renfrew Center. The nationwide survey asked college students about body image, isolation, depression and social media. According to the Renfrew Center, the survey found:
- 93 percent of respondents have felt alone or isolated at least sometimes during the current school year. One in four said in the 2021-2022 academic year, they have always felt alone or isolated.
- 100 percent of surveyed students have felt depressed at some point during the current school year. Fifty-five percent said they felt that way sometimes, while 27 percent said always.
- 72 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I feel alone or isolated more often now than I did before the pandemic (prior to March 2020).” 70 percent reported feeling depressed more often now than pre-pandemic.
- Two-thirds (67 percent) of surveyed students said their body image has gotten worse since before the pandemic.
- When given a series of adjectives to describe how they typically feel after scrolling through social media — happy, sad, inspired, depressed, loved and lonely — the most common response was “lonely” at 39 percent, followed by “depressed” at 24 percent. 15 percent of respondents selected “inspired.”
In addition to the “Live Your Real Life” campaign, the Renfrew Center will host free, virtual events. Registration for the events, which include a yoga class and online webinars, is available at the Renfrew Center’s website.
More information on eating disorders can be found through the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, the Renfrew Center’s services catalog, and this guide to eating disorders.
Students experiencing difficulty due to social media use, disordered eating or mental health concerns are encouraged to reach out to the La Salle Student Counseling Center. Appointments can be made by emailing email@example.com.