First of all, let me say that I am in no way, shape or form suggesting that male anorexia doesn't exist. It does, I've seen it firsthand, and, as with anorexia in general, it's a terrible disease. That said, do I think that action figures are somehow to blame for recently increased rates of anorexia in boys? No. Nope, definitely not. No more so than I believe Barbie is responsible for eating disorders in girls -- and even less so, to tell you the truth.
It's a familiar argument -- that action figures with "really cut abs and really big shoulders" are exposing little boys to the same "unrealistic body images" little girls have been pelted with for decades (in the form of impossibly tiny-waisted, big-boobed Barbie).
But Barbie represented an "unrealistic body image" way back when she first appeared on stores shelves in 1959, and eating disorder rates didn't spike overnight. (Granted, she's a bit MORE unrealistic nowadays, but still.) Likewise, little boys have been staging epic battles with plastic muscle-bound Hulks and He-Men for generations. Why now?
Plus, while girls might look at a doll and think, "I wish I had sparkly plastic shoes like that" or "I wish my hair was yellow and all grew out of one spot in the middle of my head," I can tell you from watching my 6-year-old son and his buddies play with action figures that little boys don't even blink if some superhero's leg or head pops off. Sure, Spiderman's suit is cool, but they're more impressed by the whole can he swing from a thread thing.
Do we need to figure out why more and more boys are developing anorexia? Of course. No question. But let's approach this very serious problem with a little bit of common sense.
Do you think action figures are to blame for rising rates of anorexia in boys?
Image via Joelk75/Flickr