I am used to eating disorder stereotypes in the general public I expect it. That is the way society has evolved since the tragic passing of songstress Karen Carpenter from complications related to anorexia. She brought anorexia into the national spotlight but also cemented the stereotype of it as a “women’s disorder”. Of course the “male stereotype” long pre-dated that. Dating back to the beginnings of our country. Men are the strong ones. Men are the leaders. Men don’t show weakness. Men certainly don’t starve themselves or throw-up their meals.
While gender-roles have equalized drastically in the last two hundred plus years with a reduction in stereotypes in many areas, the gender role stigma associated with eating disorders has not kept up. They are still viewed by the general public and media as a predominantly “female disorder”. While females certainly are in the majority, males are fast catching up. According to the NEDA, ten million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. Estimates of up to 20 percent of those with eating disorders are male. With Binge Eating Disorder on the rise and the reluctance of males to step forward because of the stigma and stereotypes, those numbers may be significantly higher.
It therefore distresses me when I see someone with a “cloak of credibility” pander to the very heart of these stereotypes, as Bruce Bower did in his blog entitled: “Male Version Of Eating Disorders Replacing Purging With Muscle Enhancers”
Let’s start with the title. There is no “male version of eating disorders” Males suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorders etc just like women do. Stereotype number one.
Move on down the blog a bit. “Purging and other eating disorders occur mainly in girls and women” I have no idea what “mainly” means but it certainly gives the impression that it is a “woman’s disorder” Total B.S. Stereotype number two.
Lets move on to the entire premise of the blog. From my reading of the study, it does not seem to have anything to do with whether boys are using muscle enhancers INSTEAD of engaging in eating disorder behavior. He plays right into the stereotype as the title indicates, that eating disorders are a choice. Stereotype number three.
Lastly, although it does not seem toe be specifically addressed in the study, he appears to be describing muscle dysmorphia which is NOT an eating disorder. It is a subset of body dysmorphic disorder.
There is so much wrong with this blog that I commented, pointing out the stereotyping issues. My comment was deleted. I guess Bruce does not like criticism. That made me curious. Who is Bruce Bower? His bio states:
“Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences since 1984. He often writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues. Bruce has a master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Following an internship at Science News in 1981, he worked as a reporter at Psychiatric News, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, until joining Science News as a staff writer. In 1996, the American Psychological Association appointed Bruce a Science Writer Fellow, with a grant to visit psychological scientists of his own choosing. Early stints as an aide in a day school for children and teenagers with severe psychological problems and as a counselor in a drug diversion center provided Bruce with a surprisingly good background for a career in science journalism.”
I see nothing that indicates he treats people with eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia, or academically researches either on any level.
I have some advice Bruce. Stick to whatever your good at. It’s not this and you are hurting people. You are pandering to the very stereotypes that causes many with eating disorders to suffer in silence. Stop it!
Brian Cuban is a an author whose Amazon best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD). Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma. Has has spoken at prestigious locations such as the University of North Carolina Center For Eating Disorder Excellence.
***(11/6/13) Mr Bower or whoever moderates has seen fit to put my comment back up. Here is the screenshot in case it disappears ago.
A fat morning. The diet has been terrible. Pant’s seem to get a little tighter each time I wake up. Wearing sweats all day is better. Less stressful. Need more sweats. Off to Walmart later. But today I have to face it. Real clothes are required. Blood pressure rising. I just got out of the shower but I am perspiring like I am deep in the Amazon jungle. It’s the “fear of the pants”. The stress of even one millimeter less room between the stomach and the denim waistline. I can feel it like like my senses are laser calibrated.
Six pair of jeans lay in front of me. Which pair will relieve the tension and allow me to go on with my day? Maybe the unwashed ones from last week. They are stretched out. Good for a fat day. This is so silly! I am a guy! Guys don’t have fat days! Clint Eastwood never had a fat day! The shame of the stigma and stereotypes that engulf males when it comes to body image raises my body temperature even further.
Now I am soaked in sweat. Have to take another shower and check every inch of my stomach and waistline. The obsessive-compulsive body checking routine that I though I had put behind me, sneaks back into my morning routine now and then. Recovery is a process of ups and down. The key for me is keeping the ups more consistent than the occasional down. Medication helps. Twenty Mgs of Lexapro daily help lessen the compulsive urges. Not today though. The only way to relieve the pressure of the fat morning is to try on every pair of jeans I own. Each pair confirming my worst fears. I have gained weight.
The next thoughts in my mind make the difference. I can allow the fat thoughts now confirmed to drag me back into the abyss of Body Dysmorphic Disorder, bulimia and drug addiction, or I can draw on years of recovery and therapy and thought re-training to realize the obvious, I am still me. I am loved. People don’t care about my fat day. They have their own fat days, fears and insecurities. They want to love and be loved likeI do, whther fat thin or in-between. A deep breath. A smile. Off to Starbucks to write about my fat day. It’s all good.
As a backdrop, I was anorexic, then bulimic for twenty-seven years. I am the author of Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Below are a few of the reasons I have chosen to “out myself’ and speak out on eating disorder awareness.
Sadly, this is just a small sampling of the neanderthal attitudes on male eating disorders. It becomes a Catch-22 when these stereotypes and this type of stigma are the main reason so few men seek treatment and even fewer out themselves publicly. On the flip-side, I owe each of these individuals a debt of gratitude for providing the platform to illustrate the issue. The hard fact are that over 800k men have suffered from bulimia at some point in their lives. Over 10 million males will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. We need more men to come forward. There is incredible acceptance from both men and women despite those stuck in the stone age. Awareness happens one person at a time. Join me.
Added on 02 March 2014