Myth: Only white, female teenagers can suffer from eating disorders.
All I have to say to that is NUH-UH!
Actually I have more to say than that. Although there is a much larger percentage of girls and women who struggle with serious eating issues, let’s not forget about the boys and men out there who have some of the same problems! It is very hard to estimate how many men have anorexia or bulimia because many never come forward for diagnosis and treatment. However, general estimates by NEDA say there are around 1,000,000 males in the U.S. that have eating disorders. I’m not even going to tackle the “only white people have EDs” stereotype yet… that is for a later post.
The fear of coming forward for diagnosis and treatment can stem from many things. I would presume that many men are held back because they don’t think it’s even possible for them to have an eating disorder. Or they feel ashamed because anorexia and bulimia are commonly labeled as “women’s diseases.”
Some doctors blame today’s male fashion. Ads commonly portray male models with emaciated bodies in skinny jeans. Rebecca Cooper writes about this in her article Male Anorexia. Just as I don’t blame female eating issues completely on the media, I don’t think we can blame men’s issues entirely on fashion either. Our skinny-obsessed culture certainly contributes to eating disorders, but there is a much more complicated psychological, familial, emotional AND spiritual background to male and female eating disorders.
If you have a male friend who is suffering or seems to be showing the symptoms of an eating disorder, please pray for them and don’t be afraid to talk to them about it! The National Association for Males with Eating Disorders, Inc. (or N.A.M.E.D.) is a great place to start finding resources specifically focused on helping men with eating issues. The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) also has some helpful male-focused resources.