On NPR this morning (yes, I listen to NPR. Thanks hubby!) there was a news piece about how eating disorders affect men. Most people are aware that boys and men are affected by eating disorders, but they probably don’t know the extent or much about it. When people hear eating disorder, they automatically make the connection to girls or women. I certainly do. As a girl myself, we are constantly talked to about all types of disordered eating as well as body and self image issues. Sometimes it is almost like people expect girls to have some type of body problem. However, we don’t realize that the same issues that affect girls also affect boys.
Part of the problem is that the way eating disorders affect boys is different than the way it affects girls. Boys want to look lean and ripped whereas girls tend to want to look skinny and thin. Many boys can pass their problem off as just wanting to get bigger and stronger and people won’t question that as much as a girl who may look like she is wasting away. Also, because there is a stereotype that eating disorders only affect girls, some boys might not want to admit that they have a problem. They will hide it longer because they don’t want to deal with the stigma of having a “girl” problem. They’re already struggling, and they don’t want to add being teased on top of that. When they do seek help, most recovery programs are not geared towards boys. The NPR story followed a thirteen year old boy that was diagnosed with bulimia. When it was time to get treatment, he said that it was really awkward being the only boy there. He felt that his eating disorder didn’t affect him the same way that it affected the girls he went to treatment with.
Eating disorders are on the rise among boys. It’s estimated that 10 million men will be affected by an eating disorder sometime in their life and about 43% are dissatisfied with their bodies. Just as woman are constantly bombarded with what their bodies should look like, men get the same treatment from the media. Male models are ripped, and Photoshop can enhance abs just like it can whittle a waist. Boys are taught that to be “real” men they need to be big and strong, and that can affect their relationship with their body and food. We need to start paying more attention to the way society tries to dictate the way men should look, just like we are hyper aware of how it affects women. Boys need to know as well that their body is just great the way it is. Girls hear this all the time from entire campaigns that are run based on this idea. The more that people are made aware of how these things affect boys, more research and better treatment can be made available. It’s important for every single person to feel amazing in their own skin, no matter their gender.
I hope that you all had an awesome weekend, I know we did here in the Midwest! Fall weather FINALLY arrived on Sunday and now it’s nice and crisp outside! My favorite season has begun! Have a fabulous week!