What it means to be an eating disorder charity ambassador/spokesperson. A response to Iskra Lawrence

This post comes in response to Iskra’s latest post on Instagram (now deleted) and since watching Meg (Insta: @bodyposipand) and Amalie (Insta: @amalielee)’s responses ~ please do check those out also. The tone of this post is far more serious than many I will post and about something close to my heart; please be respectful in comments and responses.

One of the most controversial aspects and a topic of mental health is the idea of ‘triggers’. (Trigger: an event that is the cause of a particular action, process, or situation. In regards to MH something that causes an adverse effect on the individual which is related to their illness(s)). It has become a recent trend, especially among young people, to use the word ‘triggered’ jovially when hearing something potentially out of the norm or upsetting and it is far from OK. For those with PTSD, anorexia, anxiety etc these triggers can be very real and very serious and can lead to both reactions such as panic attacks and even full relapses into their disorder. There is an attitude that perhaps those people struggling should be ‘responsible’ for their triggers and find ways to stop things affecting them. However, when deeply entrenched in an illness and when experiencing very explicit triggers it is thought by many Psychologists and sufferers that it is just not possible to ignore them.

Iskra Lawrence is a famous model- known for debunking the idea of ‘plus-size models’, fighting the use of photoshop, being body positive and being a spokesperson for NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness). Iskra is therefore there to provide posts that are encouraging to those in recovery and to use her platform to provide support to those struggling and raise awareness about eating disorders. Alongside this Iskra should acknowledge the feedback and use it in order to continue NEDA’s work in decreasing stigma and fighting these illnesses. It would, therefore, be assumed that this account is a safe place, without triggers, for those struggling, right? Well, apparently not.

Yesterday Iskra share some posts on her Instagram encouraging her followers to ‘join her’ in following a diet and fitness regime. This diet consisted of 1500 calories and the workouts were vigorous. This is NOT healthy for anyone. 1500 calories are the recommended intake for a child, not someone doing vigorous exercise. And this is certainly NOT healthy for someone who has or has previously had an eating disorder. This ‘diet’ and ‘fitness regime’ are highly restrictive and have very orthorexic undertones – very clear triggers for those struggling. These posts are therefore discouraging to those struggling and ensure that her account is not providing the safe space it should do. It also suggests that despite the fact the majority of her followers have had eating issues/body confidence issues it does not occur to her that she should be cautious of her posts? Does that sound like someone that should be a spokesperson for an eating disorder charity? Does that sound like someone who is thoughtful and compassionate, does she have the insight and dedication needed for this role?

HOWEVER. People do make mistakes and everyone is learning. This post would not exist if Iskra had posted these with a simple lack of thought or understanding. This post would not exist if an apology had been made. This post would not exist if she had removed the posts as soon as comments came in explaining the detrimental effects they could cause as opposed to when it was getting enough negative attention to impact her career.

Iskra received hundreds upon hundreds of comments from the off explaining that this post could be detrimental, providing supportive and educational advice for future posts and encouraging her to engage in her role as spokesperson and take the post down. She, however, didn’t. Instead, she argued to defend her point and only removed the post when it becomes clear it was having a negative impact on her. This is suggesting that she engages in the role of spokesperson because ‘it looks good’ as opposed to having a desire to help. The job doesn’t just entail speaking out positively, it is of utmost importance to listen to the responses and to learn – we ALL have so much to learn. Amalie made a wonderful point that NEDA is not for Iskra, that the charity is for us, those that struggle, and if we are stating that something is having a negative impact on our lives it should be acknowledged. There is enough diet culture ‘new year, slimmer you’ bullshit going around without those in a very powerful light engaging in it also.

Should Iskra apologise, should it become known that those posts were not from her or were made to be released by her management and these mistakes not occur again then the anger at her personally will lessen but now, when this is not the first mistake that’s been made, I really think Iskra should consider stepping down from her position as spokesperson for the sake of those the charity is for.

2 thoughts on “What it means to be an eating disorder charity ambassador/spokesperson. A response to Iskra Lawrence

  1. If I had been looking to her for guidance as so many girls were, her post would’ve threw me into a relapse. I restricted a lot during my teen years. I say five years but it also took some time for me to completely recover and stop feeling fat. Thank you for this post. For those who need it and for those who don’t understand. Maybe this will start the right conversations.

    Liked by 1 person

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