CSUN encourages a positive self image at eating disorder events

Sigourney B. Nuñez

A chance to walk down a red carpet and showcase ones individuality was presented Tuesday at “Glitz and Glam: The Star I Am,” an event hosted by Joint Advocates on Eating Disorders (JADE), in collaboration with other organizations stemming from the University Counseling Services.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association data, nearly 20 percent of college students admit having an eating disorder and nearly three-quarters have never received treatment. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The startling numbers motivates the organizations to reach out to the community.

The event aims to promote a positive self-image, said Grace Weismann, a JADE graduate assistant.

“We’re honing in on the star that each person is,” Weismann said.

In honor of the National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week, Feb. 20 to 26, CSUN’s peer educator groups organized three consecutive events, in order to promote consciousness about body image concerns, body acceptance, the dangers of eating disorders and the thin ideal.

Among the organizations and facilities that helped organize the event were, the BLUES Project, dedicated to overcoming depression and prevention of suicide, DATE Project, a rape prevention program and the University Counseling Services, which sponsors said groups. The Klotz Student Health Center and the journalism department, which publishes “Get Real,” an online magazine that focuses on positive body image, also devoted time and effort to the cause.

“We all have our different messages,” said Vaheh Hartoonian, student assistant for the BLUES Project. “It’s important to collaborate because eating disorders and depression are more intertwined than people think.”

The BLUES Project had an informational booth at the event in which they also made and gave away hand made stress-balls out of blue balloons and flour.

In order to proactively make a difference, a booth was dedicated to showing one of the ads.  The winning essay critiqued a Hanes and WonderBra advertisement of a women provocatively showing off her breasts with the phrase, “I can’t cook. Who cares?” The advertisement turned into the driving force of a boycott of the product and company.

The Me & My Body Media Image Project and JADE made three postcards accessible for students to sign at the event. The card addressed to HanesBrand Inc. meant to advocate for better and more respectful representation in the media.

“Your advertisement was chosen as the most sexist and degrading advertisement towards women. I joined our campus campaign to boycott WonderBra and other HanesBrand Inc. products to counteract your role in normalizing unrealistic and unhealthy body images,” read the postcard.

“One letter equals one thousand people in the advertising agency,” said Kristin Phillips, vice president of the Me & My Body Media Image Project.  “If we send 240 postcards today, we are going to make an impact.”

The other two advertisements, which the organizations set up postcards for, were to commemorate Nike Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. for their “honest depiction of women’s bodies and (their) uplifting message to women.”

Another booth was the “What Are Qualities?” comment board stand was presented by JADE volunteers. With the option to fill out a colored star-shaped paper with a word that describes a positive feature about someone, JADE representatives hope the affirmation will trickle over to the lives of the participating patrons.  Words like, integrity, loyalty, open-mindedness, dreamer and persistence filled up the panel.

“Although this is (awareness) week, we need to make sure we’re always looking at people’s insides as a well,” said Darlene Balcom, 22, senior psychology major and JADE volunteer.

Students also had the opportunity to take a stroll down the “Media Walk of Shame.”  The booth paralleled positive and negative body image. With plastic surgery statistics, information about the relationship between Photoshop and advertisements, down to the glorification of extreme diet and exercise routines in reality television, the information was meant to startle patrons.

Gabriel Bautista, 22, biology major went down the media hall of shame.

“The magazines are all lies. No one is perfect,” he said. “Your personality is better than your appearance.”

JADE’s website launched a new feature with an online screening for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder is available for a free anonymous test that will help students find out if they have an eating disorder and whether or not a professional consultation would be helpful, all available in minutes.

For more information about available resources call the University Counseling Services 818-677-2366.