Tag Archives: Anne Jensen Smith

Dying To Fit In

Media bombard us with ideal images of muscular men and thin women on a daily basis.

In some cases, some women and men may develop anxiety about their ability to fit this ideal image, and some may develop eating disorders.

In a survey conducted by People Magazine, 80 percent of women said actresses in movies and television made them feel insecure about their body.

Anne Jensen Smith, president of Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE), a peer education program at CSUN dedicated to awareness and the prevention of eating disorders, said the media have a huge role in defining an ideal image to Americans.

“The media is hitting us at all angles,” Smith said. “It is outwardly saying, ‘here are all these bodies that we think Americans should be.’”

Vanessa Birdsong, program therapist at The Bella Vita, an eating disorder clinic in the San Fernando Valley, said that media are not the sole cause of eating disorders.

“The root of an eating disorder has nothing to with food and really nothing to do with body image,” Birdsong said. “It has everything to do with anxiety, low self esteem, which is connected to low self worth, and even traumas.”

Birdsong said anxiety can lead to eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, both of which involve severe restrictions of food, which can cause the brain to starve, making it hard to focus and function, sometimes leading to various heart problems, and even to death.

The National Eating Disorders Association reports that some half a million American teen-agers struggle with eatings disorders or disordered eating, and that between 3.9 and 5.2 percent of people with eating disorders will die from them.

It’s not just a problem for women.

A 12-year study conducted by Journal of American Medical Association – Pediatrics found that nearly 18 percent of adolescent boys said they worried about their weight and physiques.

Avery Rodriguez, a student involved in the Get Real! Project at CSUN, said the ideal image for a man is “[a] big chest, big shoulders and a toned body.”

Some studies show that social media sites can also have an effect on how people view their bodies.

A recent study by Florida State University found that women who spend more time on Facebook also have higher levels of eating disorders.

Birdsong said she had seen children as young as three years old in treatment for eating disorders.

“If mom or dad are pinching their own stomachs or talking about dieting all the time, kids are quick to pick up on everything,” Smith said, “and this is where they get their ideas.”

Education and awareness about body image and eating disorders are key.

“We try to alert students here at CSUN to media, and how it is effecting everybody,” Rodriguez said. “…Communication is key.”

“So often people don’t get heard,” Birdsong said, “because we have our defenses up and we’re not really listening to each other. If people stop and listen, and just are there with somebody, that can be so healing.”

“Educate yourself, ” Smith agreed, “so when you do talk to [people] openly, and you are listening to them, you know a little about it.”


Moderator: Katie Fauskee

Producer: Lauren Llanos

Anchor: Alex Vejar

Reporters: Zulay Saldana, Alex Vejar, Christopher Perez

Social Media Editor: Carly Bagingito

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