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Perception of Eating Disorders

Today as I was reading The Boston Globe online I came across an interesting article Eating disorders are a guy thing, too. It is about how eating disorders are a problem for males and not just females, as many people believe. The article shows many different statistics on the topic; for example, “men are one-third as likely as women to have anorexia or bulimia and more than half as likely to have a binge eating disorder.” The article also brings up the fact that it is unknown why male eating disorders have always flown under the radar. For all these years when eating disorders are taught in school they are usually in connection with females and act as if they are not a problem for males. Ruth Striegel,  a renown eating disorder researcher, stated that no research has been done to discover the mystery behind male eating disorders. Although there is connection between athletes and eating disorders because they often try to make a certain weight or gain muscle by over-excersicing. Another stereotype that comes along with eating disorders is that gay men are more likely to suffer from them because they are concerned about their image. This is actually not true, in that straight men are just as likely to have eating disorders, but gay men are more likely to admit it. Overall the article brings awareness to the fact that people should not stereotype eating disorders to a certain group of people, whether it be women or gay men, because it is something that affects many different groups of people.

For me, I learned a lot from this article. I always believed that eating disorders didn’t really impact men and it was only really a girl problem. I also found it fascinating that although some research has been done on males and eating disorders there really isn’t that much and it is still a topic with many gaps. It made me wonder why it has been skimmed over. Why are girls and eating disorders immediately connected? Is it because the media and our schools have always portrayed it that way? Will there be more scientific research done in the future to learn about the link between males and eating disorders? Thoughts?

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. ms
    November 16, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Growing up in the world of elite figure skating has opened my eyes to the unfortunate reality of eating disorders. Under the immense pressure of practicing twenty five hours a week and with competitions weekend after weekend, it is uncommon to see skaters fight the stereotypes that surround elite athletes.
    I too thought for the longest time that such diseases only affected girls and women but when a good skating friend of mine confessed to me his bulimia, I realized that they don’t discriminate. Instead of encouraging him to or even just telling someone myself, I made the mistake of keeping his secret in fear of losing his trust and friendship. As his disorder worsened, I first handedly witnessed his eventual decline in the skating world and in his own world. Though he was openly gay, he represented a small but significant group of males affected by anorexia/bulimia.
    He had to quit skating and enter a rehabilitation program which sent shock waves through the entire skating community not only because he was a boy, but because his conditioned had essentially threatened his life in many ways.
    In my opinion, girls are usually linked with eating disorders because of assumptions people make about feminine body image issues as well as media’s portrayal of slimness as being ideal and ‘healthy.’ While a majority of eating disorder cases are seen in females, it is extremely important to keep mindful that ANYONE can suffer from a myriad of eating disorders not limited to anorexia and/or bulimia.

  2. November 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    This is something that is always stressed in psych. We just finished the eating disorders page and my teacher was making it clear that this is not an issue for girls anymore, and it is no longer just an issue for teens but has spread out to other age groups. One of the issues is that eating disorders in men are ignored and the focus is concentrated on women with the disorder. Men with this disorder do not get the help they need as often as women. There is also a social stigma against males with these disorders therefore they are more hesitant to seek treatment.

  3. November 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    This closely relates to the group essay we were just assigned. My group and I are looking at Elle magazine and how they use science to make women feel that they need to look and be a certain way to be viewed as beautiful. While researching we found that many magazines do this. They focus of losing weight and being super skinny, but not only for women but for men too. Hollywood is full of extra thin women and, now, more and more very thin men. The problem with this is that not everyone was meant to be tiny, their body just isn’t built for it. So after following every diet and exercise plan these magazines lay out for them, getting to the smaller weight their body can take and still not being satisfied that resort to these eating disorders in order to compensate. Anorexia, bulimia and other disorders are taking over peoples minds, especially because the media, which surrounds them everyday, focuses on being skinny as the main idea of beauty, which shouldn’t be.

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