February 24, 2011

Speaker promotes positive self image at CSUN’s eating disorder awareness event

Filed under: Body Image — Tags: , , , , , , — Melanie @ 3:15 pm

By Samantha Tata. Originally posted at CSUN’s Daily  Sundial. Cross-posted with permission.

Guest speaker Melanie Klein, spoke about eating disorders and how pop culture has influenced men and women. Photo Credit: Mariela Molina / Staff Photographer

CSUN adjunct sociology professor Melanie Klein advocated the understanding of media images and their effect on the self-esteem during a lecture held by CSUN’s Joint Advocates on Disordered Eating (JADE) Wednesday for national eating disorders awareness week.

“By being constantly plugged in and mediated to, our culture has lost the connection between mind and body,” said Klein, who also teaches women’s studies and sociology at Santa Monica College (SMC).

JADE’s theme for this year’s eating disorder awareness week focused on internal and external beauty, said Grace Wiesmann, JADE graduate coordinator.

“We wanted to promote a positive body image that wasn’t only based on what the media shows us,” Wiesmann said.  “We want to enjoy who we are and recognize what we enjoy about ourselves.”

Klein said students need to become aware of how much media they consume, whether it be through television, advertisements, internet or via smart phones, and learn how to deconstruct those images to cultivate and maintain a positive self-image.

Klein, who has personally experienced disordered eating and poor self-image, said reducing media consumption could help individuals feel better about themselves because they remove the temptation to compare themselves to others.

“Body images have fundamentally changed in the past 20 years,” Klein said.

Klein emphasized that the images with which people are inundated daily do not reflect reality although the ideals they represent are expected to be emulated.

Beauty icons from the 1950s and 60s were just that, icons, not images to replicate, she said.  Today, women are told they can and should look like modern beauty icons and are shamed when they cannot fit that mold.

For the past ten years, Klein assigned her students an exercise: they are to stand still, clothed, in front of a mirror for fifteen minutes followed by another fifteen minutes without clothes.  Klein said she receives similar feedback every semester.

“Students tell me that they noticed they started picking apart their entire bodies and identifying flaws,” she said.  “So I ask, how did you come up with the idea that these things were wrong?”

Klein said there is a correlation between the increasingly provocative images distributed through media and the rise in body loathing.  She cited Facebook as a portal through which people are seeing and scrutinizing themselves, in addition to films that emphasize beauty as the fundamental reflection of a person’s worth.

Relationships with the opposite sex have also been affected by this media influence.  Klein said studies show that young men have difficulty achieving and maintaining erections because they are more aroused by altered images of women.

“When (men) get women’s clothes off, they’re not as turned on,” she said.  “Real women have stretch marks, moles and dimples.”

Klein said men and women must shift these perceptions to maintain perspective.

“Instead of complaining that my legs are jiggly, why am I not grateful that I have two legs?  Some people don’t have two legs,” she said.  “But that’s not enough, we’re pissed that the legs that allow us to walk do not look like those on the magazine.”

This creation of an unattainable reality has permeated modern society.  Klein said no demographic has been spared from this criticism, including pregnant women, men and children.

Junior Dinia Sepulveda, 21, said she attended the lecture to educate herself in order to help family members who have eating disorders, one of whom started dieting at 4-years-old.

“It opened my eyes to the (importance) of not staying quiet,” the sociology major said.  “(My cousin) is a teenager now and I want to take the responsibility to say something.”

When a friend or loved one asks the dreaded question, ‘Does this make me look fat?’ rather than assume they are seeking validation, Klein said to consider they may be unaware of what they look like.

An impulse to compare bodies and engage in self-deprecating behavior may alter the way people physically see themselves.

“You do not go from pretty to ugly or from thin to fat in five minutes,” she said.  “There has been no change in your actual body but a shift in your body image.”

Although the mental reflex to compare oneself to others is natural due to the way modern media socializes its audience, Klein said a daily exercise could change that habit.

“Rather than pick out what is wrong with you, find what you like about yourself or what you are grateful for,” she said.  “The way we are treating ourselves now is a waste of time.”

Klein said that taking two minutes to have a positive conversation with oneself could effectively shift negative body images and bridge the gap between mind and body.

“It’s a waste of energy to put ourselves down,” she said.  “We’ve lost the magic and miracle of our bodies.”

February 2, 2011

Guest Speaking Appearance: NEDAwareness 2/23 @ 12:30PM

I’ll be guest speaking as part of JADE’s (Joint Advocates for Disordered Eating) annual participation in NEDAwareness, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week at California State University, Northridge.

Come on out! I’ll be giving one of my favorite talks (description below) ever.

DATE + TIME: Wednesday, February 23, 2011 @ 12:30PM- 1:45PM

LOCATION: California State University, Northridge in the Thousand Oaks Room, USU Bldg (University Student Union)

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Mirror, Mirror: Body Image and Pop Culture With sharp wit, humor and keen insight, Melanie Klein explores the ways in which pop culture has affected and distorted our body image, our perception of others as well as our expectations and dreams. Combining research statistics, cultural observations and personal experiences, Melanie encourages us to recognize the beauty that we all possess

PARKING: Park in Student Lot, G4 or the parking structure, G3 Parking permits may be obatined at the information booth off Parthenia and Lindley.

Please arrive on time. Seating is limited. All events during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week on campus are *free* and *open to students and the community*.

November 17, 2008

Guest lecture: Women in Afghanistan

The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at California State University, Northridge is hosting Dr. Nancy Gallagher, University of California, Santa Barbara, to discuss:

Women in Afghanistan: Past History and Present Challenges

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 @ 7PM

Jerome Richfield 134

Dr. Nancy Gallagher is a professor of Middle Eastern and North African history and chair of the Middle East Studies Program at UCSB.  She is co-editor of the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies.  Her recent book is Quakers in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Dilemmas of NGO Humanitarian Activism. She is currently working on two new books.

October 24, 2008

Grad student jailed in Iran

One of our grad students at California State University, Northridge, Esha Momeni, has been arrested and jailed for a stated “traffic offense.”  Momeni, a graduate student in the Department of Communication Studies, had been in Iran for several months conducting research via video interviews for her master’s thesis on women’s movements. According to reports, Momeni is a member of Campaign for Equality which seeks to campaign on behalf of Iranian women.  She is not the only member that has been arrested in connection with the mission of the campaign.

As reported in the Bloomberg Press today:

Esha Momeni, 28, a graduate student at the university’s Northridge campus, was taken into custody Oct. 15 in Tehran on “suspicion of committing a traffic offense” while driving on the Moddaress Highway, the human rights group said in a statement.

Police then searched her family’s home in Tehran and confiscated her computer and footage of interviews she conducted, Amnesty said. She was taken to Evin Prison, and authorities told her relatives she would be released quickly if they didn’t publicize her arrest, according to Amnesty.

When officials at a branch of the country’s Revolutionary Court told the family no information on her case would be released until an investigation is completed, relatives decided to make details of the arrest public, Amnesty said. Momeni has not been charged with any crimes and is at risk of being mistreated or tortured, the group said.

“We’re tracking reports and official statements and will continue to monitor the situation,” Nicole Choueiry, a spokeswoman for London-based Amnesty International said today in a telephone interview.

University president, Jolene Koester, issued this statement:

I am deeply concerned that one of our graduate students, Esha Momeni, has been arrested and detained by Iranian authorities while conducting research as part of her Master’s degree requirements in Mass Communications at California State University, Northridge. My understanding is that her thesis project focused on women’s issues in Iran.

Ms. Momeni is a U.S. citizen. She is a student invested in learning and understanding current conditions in the country of her family’s origin.

Anyone who values knowledge and the role of academic inquiry in shedding light on the human condition should be concerned. We are in support of the efforts of the U.S. government in their efforts to secure Ms. Momeni’s immediate release and are in the process of contacting the following individuals and organizations to obtain their assistance: Senator Diane Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, Representative Brad Sherman, the Department of State, and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee.

The university has taken action by contacting the Iranain ambassador to the UN, Congressman Sherman and Senators Boxer and Feinstein.

September 24, 2008

Sexism, Feminism and the Election: Weekly Discussions in October

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — Melanie @ 11:29 am

The Women’s Resource and Research Center at California State University, Northridge is sponsoring weekly forums to discuss this historical election while considering sexism and feminism.

I will be facilitating these round table discussions in Sierra Hall 184 from 1:15-2:30PM on October 6, 13, 20 and 26.  We encourage participants to bring a lunch, a friend, and their opinions.

Olivia Ortiz of the Feminist Majority Foundation will be at California State Univeristy, Northridge on October 9 in the Whitsett Room in Sierra Hall (451) from 11-12:15 to discuss the salient issues at stake for women in the upcoming election.