Twitter Chat Addresses Challenges Of Eating Disorders For College Women

By John Lavitt 10/20/15

Participants emphasized how social media and other forms of technology can help.

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During a Proud2BMe.org and Teen Voices at Women's eNews tweet chat at the end of September, advocates brought up the problem of supporting college students dealing with eating disorders.

Designated by the hashtag #Proudchat, the back-and-forth Twitter discussion was moderated. Janette Valenzo, a graduate of New York University and a social activist who suffered from eating disorders in college, led the panel discussion with Proud2Bme Ambassador Shirley Wang and Speak GW. Speak GW provides campus-wide support and advocacy at George Washington University.

In 2013, Women's eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine, Teen Voices, to further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women's eNews provides online commentary about issues directly affecting young women, serving as an outlet for participants to share their experiences and views. As part of the discussions, expert panelists are appointed as moderators. 

The panelists uniformly expressed the belief that the key is for each young woman to learn how to self-advocate. They also advised students to cultivate a community of friends and resources that can help them through tough times. At the same time, the participants emphasized how social media and other forms of technology can help if used correctly.

Being a friend to someone in need is a challenge many young female students will face in college. Although college can become the therapeutic distraction a young woman needs to recover from an eating disorder, this is not always the case. Mary Mangione described how, “Starting college can be really stressful! Often, it triggers a need for control and that can lead to ED tendencies.”

When faced with such difficulties, Wang emphasized the importance of taking positive actions. “Be proactive! Think about what triggers you might face and how you can react to them without being self-destructive,” while recommending that young women, “Identify people you can reach out to if you feel overwhelmed – can be friends, parents, a treatment team, etc. #Proudchat”.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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