Utah Students Tackling Eating Disorders In A Unique & Slightly Violent Way


There are numerous ways to tackle eating disorders, and it is certainly not a “one size fits all”approach. While there are doctors, treatment centers and health experts who offer medical advice and help, they certainly can’t do for eating disorder patients what other sufferers and survivors can- empathize first hand.

One of those former sufferers is 29 Louisiana woman McCall Dempsey, who is the founder of a non-profit called Southern Smash, and here’s where the “slightly violent” bit comes in. After suffering with an eating disorder for 15 years, McCall finally went to a treatment center in 2010, is now a survivor and is also passionate about teaching other girls about recovery.


The signature part of her talks and workshops, which she now conducts around the US, culminates when the group of women gather at an outside location, grab sledge hammers and go to town on a bunch of bathroom scales. Yep, this is seriously the only type of violence we actually condone (because it is not toward a human or an animal) and it also serves as a powerful symbol of hope, allowed the women and girls (and men!) who attend the workshops to publicly declare that their worth is not determined by a number on a scale.

After the scales are smashed, they are placed all together in a “scale graveyard” where gravestones are placed on top of them with empowering statements such as “perfect is boring” and “my number does not define me”.


McCall recently conducted one of her workshops in Park City, Utah, where high school students and their parents were invited to hear McCall share her own story, be part of a space where they were empowered and comfortable sharing their own battles, and of course, take part in the smashing!

She has also teamed up with another non-profit called Beauty Redefined which was founded by twin sisters Lindsay and lexie Kite, and is dedicated who helping girls and women reclaim their individual beauty by decoding harmful messages from media, advertising and society. Both organizations sound like the perfect match and exactly the kind or resources both girls and boys need to have access to from an early age.


“The scale never represents anything positive for many people,” said McCall to Fox 13 News in Park City. One of the fathers present at the workshop, Steve Gordon, has a daughter who has previously suffered with anorexia. But as most sufferers know, being in recovery doesn’t mean the end of your battle. It can often be a long and painful road to recovery, and having support and reinforcements on those bad days is crucial. Eating disorders are the number one killer out of all mental illnesses in the United States today.

“Women are bombarded by messages that say you are identified by what you look like, period and if you don’t look good and you’re not thin enough, you’re not worth anything and that’s got to stop,” said Steve Gordon.

In a video promo on the Southern Smash website it states that 8 out of 10 women dislike their appearance.


“69% of girls say magazines influence their ‘perfect’ body idea,” it continues, yet studies have shown only 5% of women naturally possess the body-type portrayed in fashion, advertising and media. So what does that mean for the rest of the 95% of body types? It means there is a lack of representation, leading to unhealthy trends such as eating disorders, isolation, self-harm and in some extreme cases, suicide.

What Southern Smash and Beauty Redefined are doing is standing in that huge gap and giving many women and men permission to love their bodies, accept who they are without any comparison to a media ideal, or a number on a scale.


“Over 50% of teen girls use unhealthy ways to control their weight, and 80% of 10 year-olds are afraid of being fat. 1 in 5 women have an eating disorder. It’s time for a change,” states the video on Southern Smash.

That change is happening with groups like these who are stepping out into their communities an arming people with the right education and tools to battle eating disorders. Take a look at the video of the Southern Smash workshop in Utah below, and how one woman has used her own struggle as a source of hope for others:




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