Disordered Eating: It’s Not Just a “She” Thing …

How's that for a morning jolt?!
How's that for a morning jolt?!
How many males do you know that suffer from body image issues or body dysmorphia?

How many guys do you know are “on a diet?”

My guess (before today) is … not many.

Your guy might work out regularly and drink protein shakes… he might moan about his gut … and he might even eat oatmeal for breakfast (followed by a burger and fries at lunch).

But chances are, he’s not counting every calorie he eats or obsessing over every calorie he torches at the gym.

At least, that’s pretty much what I’d thought, too … until I read this article.

The September 2008 UK edition of Marie Claire divulges that one in five young men are unhappy with their appearances.

According to the article:
Dr John Morgan from the Yorkshire Centre for Eating Disorders in Leeds says he has seen a huge rise in the number of men suffering from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, but for every man admitted to his care, there are ten more who are depressed by the figure which stares back at them from the mirror.

‘We know that 1 in 20 young people suffer from some degree of disordered eating and that at least 15% of them are men and yet that’s a tip of an iceberg,’ he told the BBC.

‘There are men who have problems with compulsive exercise and excessive bodybuilding who have an illness, but we haven’t defined them. Our definitions of illness have been focused on women, rather than men.’

As health professionals worry about increasingly susceptible young women, young men are being overlooked, but Morgan says they can be influenced just as strongly by ‘perfect’ body images projected at them from all angles, and in many ways it is more difficult for them to achieve the six-pack, muscle-bound arms and small waist that’s seen as today’s ideal.

‘It’s completely unhealthy, and to achieve that sort of shape you’ve got to be either working out for hours in a gym, making yourself sick, or taking certain kinds of illegal drugs,’ he says.

I shared with you recently that my dear friend Jason had battled disordered eating issues. He was the first male I ever saw engage in such behaviors. I guess I thought he was sort of unique in his battle.

Clearly, I was wrong.

It’s unfair, I now see, to assume men don’t deal with the same issues we women face, and seeing it spelled out so clearly really hit hard.

The dangers are equally pervasive for men and women, the effects long-lasting. And for men, it might be even more challenging because body image/disordered eating is possibly even more taboo for men than it is for women.

The truth is, it’s a “we” thing now. Men and women both face disordered eating issues … and we need to work to change the environmental conditions that lead us down that ugly path.

In a way it’s quasi-comforting to know that the other sex isn’t immune, but wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all — men and women alike — find true self-acceptance and body-love?

How about you? Do you know any men with disordered eating issues? Do you think their battles are similar or different than ours?


5 thoughts on “Disordered Eating: It’s Not Just a “She” Thing …

  1. One of my closest friends in school, and one of the first with which I opened up about my own disordered eating behaviors, had an eating disorder. Actually, he is probably anorexic still, but we lost touch awhile back.

    In my experience, his battle was very much like my own in regards to food… but very different in relation to his experience with his eating disorder because he was male and it’s… less acceptable for men to have eating disorders. It’s one thing for a woman to be thin, but a completely separate thing for a man to be thin.

  2. I dated two guys that I know had body dysmorphia issues. One constantly stressed out about his “chicken legs” and the other was addicted to exercise, his looks, the way he chewed his food, etc (I loving refer to that guy as the boyfriend from hell though since he so many other lovely issues that came along with his dysmorphia!!) It was with him that my disordered eating began to really surface itself. He analyzed my workouts, my food, my clothes. Recipe for disaster!

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