I don’t often call out specific individuals for perpetuating eating disorder stereotypes but every once in a while, I get something by email, Facebook or Twitter that serves as a perfect vehicle to demonstrate how much work there is still to do in combating the stereotypes, shame and stigma so many who battle the disorders face as I did for twenty-seven years, suffering from anorexia, then bulimia wrapped around Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
I got this one on Facebook from a video producer named Dan Myers from Pittsburgh. As a backdrop, I criticized Justin Bieber with regards to his “performance” in a recent deposition he gave. Dan is apparently a Belieber. He took exception and let me know what he thinks of me which is fine. I will be the first to admit that there are more people than Dan out there who don’t like me. You speak out, you will alienate some people. Can’t make everyone happy. That’s life. To some extent, Dan is right. I certainly was a f*ck up for a good deal of my life. Eating disorders and addiction can have that effect. I do have a famous brother. Sometimes that get’s me recognition. Score another for Dan. His statement about looking in the mirror turned out to be brutally ironic in light of the other half of his rant.
Within the tongue lashing telling me that I should keep my “Bieber Hate”to myself, was a stunning revelation about Dan’s views on eating disorders and Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It got even more interesting. He went on to tell me(and everyone else on my Facebook page, so it was not said in confidence) that he has or once had a girlfriend in recovery. I have to wonder if he ever shared his true views about eating disorders or Body Dysmorphic Disorder with her. Here are some not “made up” hard facts for Dan and anyone else who thinks Eating Disorders or Body Dysmorphic Disorder are fairy tales.
1. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness. Hopefully Dan did not have to mourn his girlfriend and she made a full recovery.
2. According to the most recent studies, up to 33 percent of those who suffer from eating disorders are male. Given that males are so much less likely to talk about the disorder, that figure could be even higher.
3. Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects 2-4 percent of the population male and females equally. Like bulimia, anorexia and binge eating disorder, it is DSM5 clinical diagnosis. Message to Dan and the other neanderthals. The medical and psychological community believe they are all real. I doubt you know better.
There are many Dan’s out there. The only way to enlighten and educate them and their children is to speak up and speak out if you are ready to do so. If not, that’s ok. Recovery is an individual process. We are all in different places. Get good where you are. Baby steps are great. If you are ready, lets let the Dan Meyers of the world know that these disorders are real, the struggles are real and the mortality is final. Slowly but surely, caveman will became cave thinkers.
Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from childhood bullying, eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD) and drug addiction. Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma.