Kaylee Parrish is the founder of The Hope Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about eating disorders. The Hope Project’s Instagram, @edhopeproject, focuses on spreading positivity and motivation for those in recovery and currently has over 1,200 followers- not to mention a great feed! I reached out to ask her a few questions about not only her organization, but her recovery as well. Here’s our Q&A:
What inspired you to start @edhopeproject?
Honestly, I just woke up one day and realized how big of a deal eating disorders were in this world and the fact that no one truly paid attention to them. I’ve always been one to share about my life but I had never publicly been open about my eating disorder, especially not on social media. I knew that I had to use my voice to fight for those who were to afraid or unable to fight for themselves. I wanted to be a person who could spread awareness and also be a safe place for people who are struggling to come to.
How has The Hope Project impacted your own recovery?
The Hope Project has helped my own recovery in so many ways. I know that to help others, I need to be sure that I can help myself first. I took some time before starting this organization to better myself so that I would be strong enough to help others. I keep that same mindset everyday, and if I’m ever at a point where I am struggling I make sure to tell my followers that. Being open and honest is one of the most important things in recovery, and someone with an eating disorder is constantly recovering. It’s helped me to not be ashamed but to embrace my eating disorder to help others.
On both @edhopeproject and your own personal instagram you’re really open about being in recovery and eating disorder awareness. Was going public with your ED a hard decision for you? What advice do you have for people not sure if they want to be open about their experience?
Going public was both hard and oddly easy. I was terrified of what people would think, because social media is a platform where most people only share the good stuff. My whole life I’ve always based my decisions on what people may think of me, but I decided that no one else’s opinion of me mattered if I am doing something good. What made it easy was that I just had this feeling that I was going to be able to help so many people, and that was my motivation. My advice to those who are not sure if they want to be open about their experience is to live your truth. It’s so hard to keep things bottled up inside, especially if there is so much that you have to say. It’s scary and it’s hard, but it has helped me so much knowing that using my voice is helping others. Do not be ashamed of your story, because it is important.
Do people often comment/DM you with their personal stories and struggles? If so, how does this make you feel?
I get multiple dms a day from people telling me about their struggles, and I even have people come up to me in person. I get chills every single time. I never thought I would have as big of an impact in this community as I do, and knowing that people trust me enough to come to me is such a grateful feeling. My goal was to help others and create a safe community, and I think I’m succeeding in that!
How do you decide what goes onto your page/feed? It’s super aesthetic!
I have a whole album of different photos saved, but scrolling through Pinterest is my go to. I always look for something colorful and artsy, because I want my page to look positive. I just pick a photo that speaks to me.
What is your favorite part about The Hope Project?
My favorite part about The Hope Project is seeing it’s growth and impact. The fact that something that I created is able to help people just through an app is amazing to me, and I love being able to watch it all happen.
What is something you wish people knew about eating disorders?
I wish people knew how serious eating disorder were and actually understood the basis of what they are. Most people don’t do research or pay attention to things unless it effects them, but I strongly encourage everyone to learn a little bit about eating disorders and how serious they are.
Thank you to Kaylee for sharing her story and perspective with me! I really enjoyed collaborating and getting the chance to do this Q&A. Follow The Hope Project @edhopeproject on Instagram to add a pop of color and positivity to your feed!
All photos courtesy of Kaylee Parrish
All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.