Tag Archives: bulimia

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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Perfectly Imperfect

Beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry in this country, but there’s not much that’s beautiful about it.

With the mass media setting the standard for what is considered ‘beautiful’, more and more people end up believing they are in need of improvement.

Magazine covers and billboards feature sexy celebrities, musicians wear skimpy outfits, and television shows star thin and beautiful actors. Some experts believe these images have an impact on the most vulnerable audience, who is becoming younger and younger each year.

“Media know that our looks are our ultimate vulnerability, and they take advantage of that,” said Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a psychology professor at CSULA. “And they start with younger audiences every year.”

Fifth-graders told researchers at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute they were dissatisfied with their bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears. Forty percent of the 10-year-olds said they have tried to lose weight.

“It starts young,” Durvasula said. “ And then it’s that sense of ‘I don’t measure up’ or ‘I’m not good enough’…It comes from a lot of different places, but the bottom line is that it can really go to the dark place of people doing some really dangerous things with food and eating behaviors.”

It’s not just the mainstream media perpetuating the idea of an ideal body type. Roughly half of the women in the U.S wear a size 14 or higher, but many retailers carry only sizes 14 and lower. Psychologists say this modern-day shunning of a particular group can lead to disordered eating.

“Whether that’s from a message they were told by their family or their culture, or whether that’s from media images, it’s an issue of socialization,” said Dr. Veronica Stotts, coordinator for the Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating at CSUN. “It’s a misrepresentation of how we’re supposed to measure our worth; that it’s not about our brains, it’s about how we look, and we’re taught that from an extremely young age.”

Ninety percent of those diagnosed with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to The Center for Mental Health Services.

“Women have learned to use food for everything but what it’s designed for,” Durvasula said. “Most women a long time ago stopped listening to themselves. Instead what they listened to is other people, (about) how they should look, how they should eat, that they should live to please.”

Durvasula is a former over-eater, and the author of “You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life”.  She said the key to controlling disordered eating is learning to accept one’s body as it is.

“Body image is how a person sees oneself,” Durvasula said. “The core of an eating disorder is when a slim woman sees that she needs to lose weight when she doesn’t. It starts inside your mind, not the body.”

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign released a video in April portraying a sketch artist working on a drawing of a woman as she described herself, and then working on a sketch of that woman as described by someone else. The first sketch, based on the woman’s own description, shows someone older and plainer than the sketch based on another woman’s description. The campaign’s message was simple: women see themselves as less attractive than others do. Millions viewed the video on Youtube within days of its release.

Durvasala said young women and men must learn to celebrate their bodies and learn to love themselves the way they are. “I want you to enjoy that body you find yourself in,” she said. “It can be yoga, it can be hiking — something to show you that this thing is a beautifully engineered machine.  Grow to love it, take care of it, and nourish it with healthy things.”

“Focus on health,” Stott said. “Get enough sleep. Move your body. Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full. Be in tune with what your body needs at any given moment, and just treat yourself well spiritually and emotionally, and your body will find exactly where it’s supposed to be.”


Moderator: Nattashia Arrango

Anchor: Ruben Saenz

Reporters: Tasnim Hanafy and Iuliia Vazhenina

Producers: Erika Yasuo and Malcolm Hoyle





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