Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dress Up?

Halloween is just around the corner!

I love this holiday. I really do. Halloween means it's really truly fall. It means I get to play dress up and make-believe with the other kids. It means girls will be running around campus scantily clad as sexy nurses, sexy cops in hot pants and and witches in teeny-tiny skirts...wait a minute.

I love most of the stuff about Halloween, but this shit is just stupid.

Sadly, these costumes are nothing to be surprised/shocked about.

I'm all for feeling good about yourself and showing off a little and when you want to. Halloween is a great opportunity to have some fun, get dressed up and be a little silly.

I just wish there wasn't such a tendency to use the holiday as an excuse to get girls to dress like strippers.

If those typical sexist, objectifying, insluting and tacky costumes are a bit much, the one below has crossed the line into 'truly offensive'.

Because there is nothing funnier than dressing up like a life threatening disease. This is the costume you can buy (and yes, it does come in plus sizes) to be Anna Rexia this Halloween. The dress comes with a measuring tape belt and choker and a heart-shaped name tag so everyone will be able to get the joke.

I love that the model they chose is a very buxom, healthy looking curvy woman. As if we need to glamorize eating disorders a little more. Mary Kate and Ashley? Keira? I will not suprised when I see this picture show up on a "thinspiration" page at a pro-ana or pro-mia website.

About a week ago we had a couple of young ladies from an eating disorder awareness group on campus come to our journalism class to talk to us about their program and what is offered on campus. They were a little nervous I think, trying to give their presentation in front of a bunch of journalism students who were writing down everything they said. I think they did a great job, though. We had to take notes and write a story covering thier presentation. Here's mine:

Images in the media such as super thin models and emaciated actresses are a major factor contributing to people developing eating disorders, according to two representatives from an eating disorder awareness group on campus.

The models seen daily in ads and on commercials are digitally enhanced, slimmed down and otherwise manipulated in order to sell products, said the representatives at a recent presentation. People don’t always realize that even the models don’t look perfect and many suffer from disordered eating themselves, said one.

“We pick our friends because they are there for us not because they’re skinny or pretty or have nice clothes,” said presenter Kristy Williams, a 21-year-old journalism major at CSUN.

Williams and Jaycee DeFillipo spoke to a group of about 20 students in Manzanita Hall Thursday night about the reasons, signs and consequences of eating disorders. Both young women are members of JADE, or the Joint Advocates on Eating Disorders at CSUN.

According to JADE statistics, 60 percent of CSUN students have known someone with an eating disorder and 38 percent have had or currently have one. Of that 28 percent, 20 percent are males. The students who seem most affected, according to the JADE web-site, are majoring in kinesiology, health science, nutrition and journalism – areas that focus either on food or the media.

There are many signs a person has an eating disorder, said DeFillipo. The 23-year-old journalism student said anorexics may display a fear of gaining weight and avoid situations where they are expected to eat in front of people, such as going out to dinner. They may also have hair loss or develop a thin layer of hair on their bodies. This is the body’s attempt to try to keep warm when so much body fat has been lost, she said.

Williams said that bulimics can develop different problems. Their weight may actually stay the same, but because they are throwing up so often they could have tooth decay, a hole in the esophagus, calluses on their fingers as well as hair loss and heart problems, she said. The 21-year-old broadcast journalism major added that they will often exercise a lot and also display a fear of gaining weight.

“The main way people get an eating disorder is to start dieting, it turns into an obsession because of a mental background of anxiety or depression,” said DeFillipo.

Both Williams and DeFillipo emphasized that eating disorders are serious problems. According to the JADE website, between 5 and 20 percent of people who develop eating disorders die as a result of medical complications.

“If you do know someone who has an eating disorder it can be a really touchy subject,” said Williams.

Never attack your friend or make fun of them, she advised. Try to use ‘I statements’ such as, I feel like you haven’t been eating a lot lately. Approach them when they are alone so they don’t feel embarrassed or ganged up on.

“If they won’t listen to you and you feel it is very serious, tell someone,” said DeFillipo.

JADE is part of the University Counseling Services and offers many resources to help students who may have or know someone who suffering from an eating disorder. There is a screening quiz on the website at www. csun.edu/counseling. To speak with a counselor about eating disorders, students can call the center at (818) 677-7500 or the main line at (818) 677-2366. All calls are confidential.

If you're having an issue with an eating disorder and don't happen to go to Cal State Northridge like me, you can contact one of these groups for help:

National Eating Disorder Referral and Information Center

National Eating Disorders Association
International treatment referrals and information

Since eating disorders are usually linked to other problems like depression and suicidal feelings, I thought I should include these numbers as well:

Hope Line Network

800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
National Suicide Hotline
Trained volunteers and professional counselors there to listen

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Short Play About The Space in My Head Reserved for Blogging

Curtain Rises on an long neglected room. There are large items covered with dusty white sheets stage left and right that could possibly be a couch and a chair. A desk sits against a back wall with a computer and monitor long untouched and turned off. Everything is dusty. The room is dimly lit.

Enter Meesh. She is a young woman in her late 20s to mid 30s of average height and weight. Her brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail by way of a baseball cap. Her blue jeans are old and broken in and her t-shirt looks like an old favorite. It is not tucked in. She opens a door stage right and pokes her head into the room.

Meesh: Hello? Anyone in here?

She tentatively steps into the room.

Meesh: Hello? (she looks around) I remember this place! Huh. Guess it’s been longer than I thought.

She walks over to the desk and tries to turn on the computer. It won’t start up. She checks to make sure it’s plugged in and tries again. Nothing. She gives up on that for the moment and heads over to the comfy chair and removes the sheet. A flurry of dust surrounds her and she sneezes. Once the sneezing fit has passed she plops down into the chair.

Meesh: (settling in) I missed it here. I wonder if anyone’s been by…

There is a sudden sound as if something is skittering across the floor. Meesh stiffens in the chair. The sound of skittering again followed by a thump and then:

Creature: Ow. Damnit.

Meesh jumps to her feet.

Meesh: Who’s there? (silence) Hey! Who’s in here?

Creature: (popping up from behind the desk) Well, la de da. Where the hell have you been?

The Creature is no more than three feet tall, covered in fur that would be brown were it not for all the dust and seems to have a stuffed up nose. She has ears like a fox, the general facial features of a bear and a long tail the ends in a tuft of fur. She is also possessed of a small pair of wings that are inclined to flutter when agitated. These wings are larger versions of what can be found on a dragon fly and do not look at all up to the task of actually achieving flight.

Meesh takes this all in for a second.

Meesh: Excuse me?

Creature: You disappear for months on end without so much as a word, not even an update! And you expect to come barging back in like nothing’s happened. Excuse me, Meesh but as far as I’m concerned you’re the one who should be explaining. So I’ll ask again, where the hell have you been?

Meesh: I don’t think I like your tone. Besides, I’m not inclined to answer interrogative questions from small furry creatures who know my name but don’t have the common courtesy to tell me theirs. (she plops back down in her chair)

Creature: I’m your cyber muse you fool! I’m the one who helps you find all that great stuff to blog about. My Little Ponies with suggestive poses – that was me. The story idea about the birth control pills on campus getting more expensive – me. The Supreme Court passing stupid decisions down about abortion – me again! I can’t believe you don’t recognize me. We used to work together at least once a week!

Meesh: Wait a minute…you’re the little creature in my subconscious that helps me sort through the news and decide what to write about! But I never see you. You always hang out behind the scenes. I thought you didn’t like come out much.

Creature: What’s the point of hiding out? You haven’t been here in months.

Meesh: I’m sorry. Things have been…well…weird lately.

Creature: Weird? You want to know about weird? The Little Ponies you blogged about have been through here every day looking for you and now they’re starting to follow Helen Thomas around. You need to sort out your posts, my dear.

Meesh: Sorry. I will be by more often. I promise. It’s just that my life has been changing a lot and I don’t have much spare time.

Creature: You can make time. What’s been going on anyway?

Meesh: Well…I have a new job at Cal State Northridge that I really like and then I’m taking classes four nights a week. And these are upper division classes with a lot of writing requirements. And I have this amazing new person in my life and we go out every now and then. And then there’re all the doctor’s appointments and the radiation treatments. Not to mention all the home work, did I tell you about the homework and weekends at my mom’s here and there and…

Creature: Back up! What radiation treatments?

Meesh: (all innocence) Hmmm?

Creature: Why are you getting radiated?

Meesh: (sigh) Because I have a stage one cancer.

Creature: (fluttering closer) Say again?

Meesh: I got a little stage one cancer and they have to give me radiation every morning so I kind of feel like crap and mostly want to nap all the time.

Creature: (walking up to her and placing a paw on her knee) Are you going to be ok?

Meesh: Oh yeah. I’ll be fine once it’s all over. It’s just pretty sucky right now ‘cause the radiation is killing a lot of white blood cells and I get run down. My doctors are really good and they’re keeping an eye on things, though.

Creature: Oh. That’s good then. (she sits on the floor near her feet and looks up at her) So are you gonna come by here more often? Your blog misses you and someone has to keep these ponies you wrote about in line. They’re randy little things. They won’t listen to me. I’m just a muse you know.

Meesh: I’d like to stop in more often but what can I write about here anymore? I’m so busy writing for my classes I hardly have the time anymore.

Creature: You could write about your classes…or post some of the stories you’ve written for your journalism class…or tell us about what’s going on in you Women in Media classes. That way you could review your material and share cool info with the other blog people. I bet they miss you too.

Meesh: You might be right. I could easily blog about my classes like last semester. And my Women in Media class is pretty interesting. We did this whole thing on Barbie last week that was pretty cool. Did you know she was modeled after a naughty sex doll from Germany?

Creature: You don’t say?

Meesh: Yeah and then they marketed the doll to mothers as a way of teaching their daughters how to grow up and catch a husband so…hey! I see what you’re doing here.

Creature: What?

The Creature gets up and flutters over to the computer desk. With a flick of a switch she is able to fire up the computer and the screen is soon open to a blank word document. Meesh walks over to the desk in amazement and sits down in front of the computer. The Creature plops down on the floor next to her.

Creature: So…tell me about Barbie…

Fade to black out and