@Hayls_SprinklesOfSunshine Eating Disorder Recovery Instagram By Hayley Kremer Goes Beyond Surface Symptoms To Inspire Everyone
20-year-old Hayley Kremer started the Instagram account @healthy_hayls in 2012 to document her eating disorder recovery through fun images of recipes she was trying and encouraging captions about how excited she was to try them. Now called @Hayls_SprinklesOfSunshine, the account has grown into much more than pictures of food and is filled with inspirational words and images "to inspire and motivate people to be themselves, have self-love, change for the better, and just be happier," as Kremer told First We Feast.
Too often, media attention to eating disorders is focused on food, bodies, and numbers. But these fixations don't help people with eating disorders or do justice to the stories of those who have recovered from them. Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario said of the attention she has received regarding an eating disorder in her past:
What I so often find is that it becomes about the facts: “How much weight did you lose? How were you treated? Were you hospitalized?” And that’s not important to me. What is important is to talk about the feelings, to talk about the help that young girls and young men who have this problem can get if they find that they are suffering.
Kremer found herself getting caught up in these surface manifestations of eating disorders when documenting her recovery, which led her to take the month of October 2014 off from her account, then called healthy_hayls, and reemerge as @Hayls_SprinklesOfSunshine. She explained in an interview with First We Feast,
Being surrounded by eating disorders, food, and exercise posts can be very unhealthy for someone who is trying to recover. I think this is a big issue today for my girls with recovery or fitspo [fitsporation] accounts.
Experts have called attention to social media's potential to promote obsessions with appearance and unhealthy eating and exercise habits, even when under the guise of "fitness." Kremer didn't want her Instagram to become part of this trend. Now, Kremer's posts speak to the empowerment of befriending food after it has been your enemy for years, the excitement of having things to look forward to when life is not consumed by pain and illness, and the importance of getting back on your feet when you have a rough day, no matter what challenge you're trying to overcome. Some of her posts are as simple as this picture of a cat with the caption, "Even if you feel like nothing is going right there is always something you can be grateful for, happy about, or smile at."
It is this universal message of perseverance and positivity that speaks to Kremer's 18.5K followers, who leave comments like "I so needed this right now!" and "Your eating habits and positive personality are inspiring."
Her photos also contain comments from family, friends, and fans telling her how proud they are of her for pursuing the meaningful life and self-care she deserves (I may or may not have just wiped back a tear.)
We're proud of you too, Hayley, for showing others that recovery is possible and that there is so much to live for outside of the food and weight goals that seem like the end-all, be-all when you're in the throes of an eating disorder. Hayls_sprinklesofsunshine's encouraging images and words remind those suffering from eating disorders that the post-recovery world holds endless sources of joy and fulfillment that include but are not limited to food.