SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – The green glow emitting from Syracuse’s most iconic buildings this week was more than just an aesthetic choice.
As part of the National Eating Disorders Associations’ awareness week, landmarks across the country were illuminated with the organization’s colors.
The weekly initiative is part of an annual campaign to educate the public about the realities of eating disorders and to provide hope, support, and visibility to individuals and families affected.
While coast-to-coast effort to colorfully illuminate buildings united dozens of U.S cities raised awareness of eating disorders, there are still many misconceptions about what eating disorders actually are.
Syracuse-based fitness influencer Nicki Cox is an eating disorder survivor. She uses her platform of thousands of Instagram follows to promote a holistic approach to fitness and recovery, and hopes to spread the message that eating disorders are not actually about food.
“In a way food might be the weapon people use, but it’s not at all the cause or the root,” she said. “It’s usually because they want control because something big happened in their life and the only thing they can do to control that situation is to control their food intake.”
For many who struggle with eating disorders, exercise is another method of control. Cox wanted to start her social medic channels to promote fitness as a tool for recovery, instead of a weapon.
“I wanted to give other girls like me who had a history of eating disorders a way that they can channel how they incorporate fitness and having an active lifestyle without relapsing or going back into a really negative mindset about things,” she said.
And for Cox, who was hospitalized for her eating disorder, seeing the impact on her followers makes recovery even more special.
Last year, Cox received a message on Instagram from a nurse in the same ward she was treated on. The nurse told Cox that some girls who are currently in the program who found her page and were inspired by the things she was saying and doing online.
“It was just a very full circle moment to see that I was literally right there, like that was me a couple years ago and now people are here knowing that it can get better, knowing that there is another side to all this,” she said.
“And I was crying my eyes out because it was a moment of really just remembering why I was doing it in the first place,” she added.
For those who may be struggling, the the National Eating Disorders Association has free resources to start the recovery journey.