Tag Archives: eating disorders

Hidden Changes

One aspect of Greek life on college campuses, often perpetuated by the media and pop culture, is hazing.

California State University, Northridge, has created a very strict “Non-Hazing Agreement” for fraternities and sororities. It reads, in part:

All organizations and clubs must obey the CSU code of conduct which defines hazing as any method of initiation or pre-initiation into a student organization, or student body, which is likely to cause physical harm, personal degradation resulting in physical or mental harm to any former, current, or prospective student.

But CSUN students have differing opinions on whether or not fraternities or sororities follow this agreement.

“…I particularly made sure that no hazing was involved at all [in the fraternity I joined],” said CSUN student Mauricio Romo. “I was at first sketchy when I joined as a brother, but then I noticed … there is no hazing. I don’t understand why they would haze. I never understood the topic. I’d see that other fraternities haze, but I never understood why you have to haze somebody if someone joined for the same purpose you are.”

“…there are communities that say that they don’t haze, but I’ve experienced hazing firsthand,” said CSUN student and sorority alumna Leah Cohen, “and so have people that I’ve talked to, and even most recently I’ve had people coming to me that have complained about those particular issues, so I do not think that the Greek community at CSUN has been adhering to the hazing policy that has been put in place for them.”

Hazing was a problem at CSUN in the past. A 19-year-old student named Armando Villa died as a result of a hazing incident almost three years ago.

“Armando’s death really affected me because we were on the same swim team, so we knew each other,” Romo said.  “I’d known him since middle school. I talked to him in high school. The last semester of senior year we all talked about how we were going to go to CSUN and join a fraternity. When Armando’s death happened, it hit me. I was like, wow, someone I knew passed away for a stupid reason.”

Although not all hazing at CSUN, or other college campuses, ends in tragedy, hazing of any kind can have lasting social or psychological effects on people.

“These organizations are communities of individuals,” CSUN Sociology Professor Ali Akbar Mahdi said, “… young people who have come together, 40 or 50, or an even larger number of them, in one compound, who do not have any blood relationship, and they do not know much about the past of each other… So, they get into very intense relationships with one another, and unfortunately one of the negative aspects of it is that it creates a sense of exclusivity, and also a sense of superiority.”

Another negative aspect can be the peer pressure that it makes it hard to speak out against hazing.

“The people who come to this organization then accept that this is going to be part of the game,” Mahdi said, “and therefore they should accept these things.”

Although Greek life is stereotyped as non-stop partying, drinking, and hazing, even its critics agree some benefits certainly exist.

“I primarily joined because, ultimately, I wanted to do something more for the community, philanthropy-wise,” Cohen said. “The goal was, whichever sorority I ended up in, to contribute to that particular philanthropy, whichever one it would be.”

To help push the positive aspects of sororities and fraternities, and to teach students the correct way to contribute to Greek life, CSUN created Greek 101 and Greek 102 classes that are mandatory for students who want to join these organizations.

“I felt that Greek 101 was very like — it could pretty much touch you, in a sense,” Romo said. “It also touched me because they also talked about Armando. From what I hear, before Armando’s death, Greek 101 was a lot different.”

“I took Greek 101 prior to what happened to Armando Villa, so my experience was that [hazing] wasn’t taken as seriously beforehand,” Cohen said. “When I experienced Greek 102 afterwards, hazing began to become more of a prevalent thing that was being discussed. It was taken a little more seriously in Greek 102, but in Greek 101 at the time it was not.”

Villa’s death has had an effect on the entire campus, and more specifically the Greek community. While hazing may still be going on, the campus has tried to minimize it.

Moderator: Shelby Charlene

Producer: Amber Partida

Anchor: Malcolm Finney

Social Media Editors: Yesenia Burgara and Abril Preciado

Reporters: Yesenia Burgara, Shelby Charlene, Malcolm Finney, Julie Nesbitt, Amber Partida, Curtis Poindexter and Abril Preciado

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Picture Imperfect

Recently, social media have started setting a high beauty standard for both men and women.

Billions of dollars are spent annually on beauty products in this country, and a  study done by a British makeup company found that 68 percent of employers say they would not want to hire women who don’t wear make up.

“One’s sense of self-esteem is hit hard when one feels as though he or she doesn’t measure up to the classic image of the media,” psychologist Yvonne Thomas said.

“The media’s job is to tell a story, ” said Gender and Women’s Studies Professor Shira Brown, Director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center. “The story being told portrays a false sense of image for the average person, especially young boys and girls, whether it’s on television, magazines or the radio…Unfortunately the story being told is [of] a particular body or hair type, which puts pressure on society’s body image.”

The Internet has become the go-to way for finding information. Many people go online to do research about health and beauty, and find the same unrealistic standards of beauty there that they would in traditional media. Experts said those standards have an impact on individuals.

“I got a lot of doors shut on me, and that really actually lowered my self-esteem and I did get anorexia,” said social media model Magi Tcherno. She said she didn’t feel beautiful until she under went a breast augmentation. Tcherno jumpstarted her own modeling career by representing herself online after she was rejected by modeling agencies who told her she wasn’t good enough. It was at that point, she said, that she became more determined and developed the self-confidence to build her own modeling career.

Dove, a personal care products manufacturer owned by Unilever, has built a marketing strategy around increased self-esteem for men and women, partly by showing many different body types and standards in their advertising.

“I believe that good things come when you show diversity in body type; good things come when you show diversity in skin color and height,” Brown said.


Moderator: Delmy Moran

Anchor: Brittni Perez

Producer: Celene Zavala

Social Media Editors:  Jordan Williams

Reporters: Delmy Moran, Brittni Perez, Kiesha Phillips, Daniel Saad, Jordan Williams and Celene Zavala

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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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