Proud2Bme Rock Star: Kate Leddy
Proud2Bme’s Rock Star feature honors the work of young activists in the body image and eating disorders awareness fields. In this interview, Proud2Bme writer Kate Leddy tells us more about herself and the incredible projects she’s been involved with.
Proud2Bme: Tell us a little about yourself.
Kate Leddy: I’m 21 years old and starting my final semester (aah!) at UMass Amherst. I am studying public health and journalism with a sociology minor. I grew up in Westchester County, New York, and despite some bumps in the road, consider myself two years recovered from an eating disorder. I love being outdoors and exploring new places, writing, hiking, and meeting new people.
Proud2Bme: How did you first hear about Proud2Bme?
KL: I interned for the National Eating Disorders Association in New York City in the summer of 2014 when Proud2Bme was fairly new, so I heard about it through my coworkers there!
Proud2Bme: What was your favorite piece to write and why?
KL: Definitely the piece I wrote about “Dad Bods” (“The ‘Dad Bod’ Double Standard”) because I remember reading about the trending topic and having such a strong opinion about it. I jumped at the opportunity to write about it and challenge myself to articulate my frustration in a more thoughtful, progressive way.
Proud2Bme: What are you doing currently (school, job, volunteer work, etc.)?
KL: I’m producing a musical about eating disorders! I am so excited about this. A couple years back I was connected with Dina Zeckhausen, a psychologist and founder of the Eating Disorders Information Network. She wrote a musical called “What’s Eating Katie?” (no affiliation) about a young woman who meets “Ed” as she goes off the college. It is a thought-provoking and powerful show. As a public health major, I chose to bring the musical to UMass for my senior project and I have been working on it since the summer! In addition to producing and co-directing the show, I am doing qualitative research on the effectiveness of using theater as a means of public health education. The show will be in March and so far it has been a lot of work, but it has been extremely rewarding.
Proud2Bme: What are your future goals/plans?
KL: I am thinking about eventually going back to college for a master’s degree in social work or counseling, but right out of college I would really like to find a job that allows me to continue my work in supporting eating disorder—and co-existing illnesses—treatment and education. Ideally, I would love to be able to combine what I have learned as a journalist and as a public health student and work in a sort of public relations or social media position. And as someone who grew up on the East Coast, I would also like to eventually do some traveling and head west!
Proud2Bme: How has Proud2Bme/NEDA shaped your way of thinking?
KL: Proud2Bme and NEDA have taught me so much about perspective. They taught me that there is no single, correct way to do something because all of us have our own unique backgrounds and paths. What works for one person might not work for someone else, but the best part of that is that we are consistently learning new views and gaining insights from the people around us.
Proud2Bme: What advice do you have for aspiring body image/recovery activists?
KL: Commit yourself to the belief that all people are capable of change. You may often have extremely strong societal pressures up against you, and at times that can feel overwhelming. But keep reminding yourself that one person can make a difference.
Listen, too! Keep a dialogue open. Be willing to also grow and learn new things as you teach others what you know about this cause!
Proud2Bme: Tell us something about you that might surprise us!
KL: I dream constantly about having a home in Prague. I studied abroad there last year and have serious interest in moving back there permanently!