As part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, from Feb. 27 to March 4, the Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE) put up a series of mirror displays along the pathway in the Sierra Quad as a way to reach out and educate people about eating disorders.
“‘Get Real’ is the theme for the week,” said Annette Dietel, senior psychology major and a JADE member. Dietel said the displays were intended to help people get real with themselves.
Vivian Orcasitas, a graduate student and member of JADE, said this was the first time the group put up an outdoor display as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
“We’re bringing the message to the students, so they don’t have to come to us,” Orcasitas said. She said the outdoor displays were meant to create a space for students to talk and share their own experiences about eating disorders so that they won’t feel alone.
The outdoor mirror displays consist of nine different mirrors with a different topic per mirror. The topics included bulimia, binge eating, anorexia, eating disorders, dieting, disordered eating, compulsive exercise, positive body image, and healthy lifestyle.
“The inspiration behind it was (for people) to be able to see themselves from a different mindset,” Dietel said.
Each mirror had information written on it about symptoms and emotions a person might feel if they suffer from a particular eating disorder.
JADE also gave out balloons, and attached multicolored balloons to each mirror. Dietel said this was intended as a way to attract students to stop by and see what the mirrors were about.
“We debated on what would be the best thing (to display) and how to represent how many people are affected in CSUN,” Dietel said.
The members of JADE decided on the mirror displays after being inspired by a similar display on another campus.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said Anabel Herrera, sophomore biotechnology major. “(This issue is) normally a taboo. At least this way, (the issue) might come out in the open, and people with eating disorders can come out and get help.”
Herrera also thought the displays were very useful in making people understand the issue better.
Ellen Mayer, director of JADE and a counselor with University Counseling Services, said the aim of the displays and events this week was for people to be more aware and educated about eating disorders.
“If you can prevent a disease, it’s much easier than to cure it,” Mayer said.
Santiago Aguirre, junior history major, said it was about time to have this kind of display on eating disorders. He also said it is good that there is a group at CSUN willing to confront the problem of eating disorders and body image.
“Especially in Southern California, we’re obsessed with our appearance,” Aguirre said.
Other events that were organized this week by JADE included talks by two guest speakers, the mirror displays, a Mind, Soul and Body Exhibition to be held in the USU today, and an old jeans donation drive on Friday.
Orcasitas said the events are intended to reach out to not only to those who suffer from eating disorders, but also to those who know friends with eating disorders.
Mayer said as much as 28 percent of CSUN students struggle with an eating disorder, and 60 percent of students know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. In addition to that, 20 percent of the people who struggle with eating disorders are male.
Georgette Brotherson, freshman theatre major, was one of the many students who walked by and stopped to look at the displays. She said the mirror display was effective because it was placed along a main pathway where everyone walked.
She said the displays even prompted her to get involved. The displays indicating that at least 20 percent of those suffering from eating disorders were male particularly stood out for her.
“Typically, you don’t think of men having eating disorders,” Brotherson said. “(We’re) ignoring a whole gender and that’s a problem.”