Media Monday: Not Just a Woman’s Disease

Christine Hanwick

Recently, I had a friend tell me that she suspects her boyfriend might have an eating disorder. Ever since, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this is a huge misconception: “men don’t have eating disorders.” But they do. And according to an article titled, Let’s Talk About Male Eating Disorders, on, 10% to 15% of those who struggle with bulimia or anorexia are men. 

Brian Cuban — who recently wrote a book about his struggle with bulimia titled, “Shattered Image” — divulges in this article that his struggle with bulimia went on for 27 years before he asked for help. Part of the reason he waited so long was the stigma and shame he felt went along with being a man with an eating disorder. He says, “the sad part is that the stigma and shame that once prevented me from seeking help in 1980 have not improved much over the last few decades. Many men still feel the need to stay silent about eating disorders…we still think it is a women’s disease.” Cuban waited another 3 years after seeking help through a 12-step program to tell the world his “secret.” But he said that his biggest surprise has been that he found acceptance — “people wanted to help.”

By speaking up, Cuban and other courageous men like him prove it’s OK to be a man with an eating disorder — and that it’s OK to be a man who asks for help. Cuban believes that when more people (both men and women) open up about their eating disorders, “we will see an expansion of treatment options, which will lead to more funding and research for both male and female eating disorder sufferers.”

According NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) men who suffer from eating disorders:

-are less likely to seek professional help than women.

-have higher levels of gender role conflict associated with seeking psychological help.

-are not included in eating disorder studies as often as women.

-do not receive treatment as often as women.

Image credit: The Atlantic/Dirk Ercken/Shutterstock