According to Beat, beating eating disorders, males make up ten percent of all eating disorder diagnoses, as reported by Metro.co.uk. Ten percent is a significant number when you consider how many millions of people worldwide suffer from eating disorders. The number is likely smaller than the real statistics would show.
Eating Disorders and Body Image
Eating disorders and body image issues are primarily stereotyped as female problems. Male eating disorders face perhaps more stigma and shame than female eating disorders do. There is, of course, no difference. However, the pressure of the leading male stereotype and ideology of masculinity makes it a big difference. Males face a scrutinous pressure to be successful, strong, and flawless. Anything less than that is considered unmasculine. As a result, the already existing shame, stigma, and stereotype surrounding eating disorders gets magnified by the additional weight of the male image.
Male eating disorders are as real as any other person who experiences them. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorders can all develop in males. Males tend to have different kinds of body dysmorphic disorders, because of the obsession with the male physique. “Biggorexia” is a term that is used to describe primarily males who develop an unhealthy obsession with gaining muscle mass. Due to their dysmorphic sense of body image, they never believe their body is “big” enough or sculpted enough to meet their impossible standards. Likewise, males can develop a disordered way of viewing themselves when they are trying to be lean and muscular, creating an unhealthy fear of fat or loss of muscle definition.
How To Approach Male Eating Disorders
First, it would be most effective to stop referring to eating disorders on a binary gender system. Today we are moving rapidly towards a non defined gender system as more people come out in sexualities and gender they define for themselves. Second, there needs to be deeper understanding of what eating disorders are, how they develop, and how they need to be treated. In creating more awareness through education, people can pay better attention to signs of an eating disorder. Lastly, the requirements for receiving treatment for an eating disorder need to be less severe. Though eating disorders can become immediately dangerous when taken to the extreme, the mental dysfunction of an eating disorder is still problematic. More widely available eating disorder treatment for men and women can save lives.
LEAD Recovery Center offers a residential extended care program for young men seeking ongoing transitional treatment for addiction and dual diagnosis issues like eating disorders. For more information, call us today at 800-380-0012.