Have you heard of the latest trend in eating disorders? It is male anorexia, nicknamed “manorexia”. Honestly, it’s not actually anything new. It's just that it's been brought into the spotlight by the media recently. And it's about time. Maybe now, anorexia will get the attention it deserves and people will start to fully understand this is a serious problem. It’s not just a teen girl trying to fit into a size 0; it can affect anyone, even men.
The name might sound funny but the disorder can easily be fatal. People seem to think that if you add -orexia to anything these days and it simply suggest that people are over indulging in an activity. But manorexia is a devastating disease and the repercussions include the possibility of death.
When we think of eating disorders, our mind usually goes directly to some teenage girl striving for physical perfection. We feel sorry for her but our pity is limited because we think of it as a disease of vanity. We don’t really give it the weight it warrants until we see a girl who looks like a skeleton on the verge of death. Then we get concerned for her health. In a world of Photoshop and airbrushing, too thin is not only tolerated in women it is expected. This pisses me off. Why does our society think it is okay to put such ridiculous standards on people?
Last month, when one of Yves Saint Laurent’s male models showed up on the runway looking “shockingly thin” it brought manorexia to the public eye. Something about the image of a grown man looking like he’s been starved near death, with knob knees and a sunken in gaunt face, demands the attention of people. But make no mistake manorexia has been around forever.
If you’ve ever known a teen boy who wrestled, chances are you have probably known a boy with manorexia. The pressure to maintain a certain weight for sports drives many young men to unhealthy depths to get there. And if you’ve ever experienced anorexia, like I have, or any other eating disorder, you know how easy it is to spiral out of control while trying to keep control of your weight. That's what anorexia boils down to; an obsessive need to control your life.
A recent study found that not only do men suffer from eating disorders but also the numbers of men who do are on the rise. Unfortunately even though there is a rise in men with eating disorders, there is not a significant rise in males being treated for eating disorders and a lot of that has to do with the stigma of anorexia being thought of as a teenaged girl’s problem. The last thing a grown man wants to do is ask for help with a “girl’s disorder”.
General practitioners are missing these diagnoses in men because they are not looking for them. The longer you go untreated for eating disorders, the more damage it does to your body, the deeper you become in the culture of eating disorders the harder it is to treat and the greater the chance of you not recovering fully and that is true whether you or a man or a woman.
Do you think anorexia will ever be as prevelant in men as it is in women?
Image via Flickr/fimb