By: Tasmia Afrin
Majority of people who suffer from eating disorders are assumed to be women, however, men are just as susceptible in developing eating disorders despite the harmful stereotypes that they are not. Oftentimes, as a society we overlook the fact that so many men are going through the same pain and struggles as women when it comes to eating disorders or disordered eating such as anorexia nervosa, orthorexia, binge-eating disorder and restricted eating. It’s overlooked because of the lack of awareness and knowledge that men also go through similar hardships when experiencing disordered eating.
Take this as an example from a personal experience of mine. As someone going through an eating disorder recovery phase, I am surrounded by many peers who are slowly revealing that they too have an eating disorder of some sort. Many, who are men. If a man were to go to the gym and lift weights while continuously restricting their caloric intake to maintain the “shredded” and lean physique, it is often praised or normalized. Inside, he may truly be crying out for help or simply wanting to find a way to accept himself without putting his life on the line. Too many men have tried overusing muscle-building supplements in order to gain enough muscles for their aesthetic idealized body without realizing the harm they are causing to their body. Or worse, these men understand that it is an unhealthy tactic but continue to pursue it because they feel it is their only easiest option to their vision of body appreciation. Whether it is for themselves or to fit the description of someone else’s ideals, their vices deserved to be heard and not shunned. You cannot simply claim that men can’t develop just as severe eating disorders as women because they can look any way they wish without having to face judgement, criticism and harassment from peers and bypassers. This is a myth and a very harmful one. Men who are overweight or obese are usually ridiculed by even family, friends and doctors to lose weight, to exercise more, to “just eat less and healthy.” This does not help, despite how much these people who fat shame think it does. In fact, this makes people like men more susceptible to disordered thinking and feelings of negativity that can lead to binge-eating disorders.
With social media and mass media continuously setting a societal standard with unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of other people, the pressure is immense on men as well. It is time we all open our eyes and learn to be kinder and more empathetic to those around us. You can never know another person’s struggle through appearances. Be patient and be kind. Support goes a long way!