On the first day of the “U Matter”-dor Week at CSUN, a counselor and peer educators from Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating held an event to educate students on ideas of beauty and eating disorders on campus on yesterday at the University Student Union.
“A Room With a View” sought to use images that promoted all kinds of beauty and inform students about some actions and attitudes that could lead to eating disorders.
Visitors were greeted with a sign that was decorated with yellow flowers imploring students to “define beauty” on it, saying that students should “write a positive message about beauty.” Visitors used such phrases as “self confident,” “love yourself” and “Beauty is knowing you’re beautiful.”
Before the event, peer educators Amanda Wilcox and Sabrina Kim talked about their reasons for joining JADE and the motivation behind this week’s events.
“I wanted to help people who are struggling on campus with eating disorders,” said Wilcox, a sociology major.
Kim said she considers her work at JADE good experience for her future career.
“I figure ’cause I’m a nutrition major I’ll probably be dealing with people with eating disorders, so this will be a good experience,” she said.
Both Kim and Wilcox have been working with JADE since last September, as were most of the peer educators present at the event.
Wilcox said that although the week’s worth of events was the organization’s “big shebang,” JADE works throughout the school year making presentations in all departments for all students.
Kim said that JADE’s presentations are well received.
The event started with the playing of a video shot by JADE peer educator Nam Deng, a psychology major. He shot the video last week and asked students to define beauty while taking their own cultural norms and values about appearance into account. The peer educators at the event said they were surprised by the admissions made in the video because most students emphasized inner beauty but found the word “beauty” difficult to define.
One CSUN student who identified himself as Persian was one of the first students to say on video that beauty is difficult to pin down.
“I think that beauty is not fixed, it’s constant,” he said.
An Iranian woman said that “beauty can be anything, it’s not just physical.”
A Moroccan woman said that her culture values perfection in women, implying that anything less is a disappointment.
It is worth noting that at least two of the people filmed were smoking while talking about beauty.
After viewing the video, JADE’s peer educators and the program’s coordinator, counselor Ellen Mayer, talked about work done at JADE and the results of their presentations.
The program, which has been at CSUN for 12 years, usually holds its week of events in February, but Mayer said that the activities are being held in conjunction with the Klotz Student Health Center.
JADE had eating disorder screening forms at the event for students to fill in. A shorter version of the form is available online at www.csun.edu/counseling. The paper form asked questions about the individual’s health, weight and height, and determined the person’s relationship with food with 26 questions about eating habits, self-esteem and attitudes toward food and exercise.
JADE surveyed 2,800 students in the fall semester, and as a result found that 28 percent of respondents found that they have or have had an eating disorder. Of that, 10 percent were men. JADE also found through its research that 60 percent of those surveyed on campus indicated that they know students who have an eating disorder. Mayer said, however, that students’ definition for the term “eating disorder” within the survey was their own.
Mayer said that many students come into counseling services for help for friends, and that students living in the dorms often come in for help or asking questions for roommates. JADE is currently accepting applications for new peer educators for the 2007-08 school year.
The peer educators agreed that a main motivation in working with JADE is helping fellow students.
Psychology major Kathleen Kenney said she likes “learning more accurate and in-depth information and feeling that (you can give students) the right information.”