I love women. I love women because we are strong and invincible. I love women because of the courage we display in the face of bigotry, hatred and ignorance. I love women because we have been through so much yet we refuse to be held down by the strong grasp that society tries to hold on us. I love women because we embrace our vibrant personalities and our colorful smiles and brilliant minds and place them before men and the confines of the home (if that is the path we choose to take). I love women so much and I am beyond proud to belong to a gender that has both endured so much pain and has taken such strides in society.. All that being said, I think it is incredibly important to begin the process of de-stigmatizing eating disorders for men. Eating disorders tend to be classified as a “female problem” but the reality is, is that males also suffer from eating disorders, and because of the stigmatism against males having eating disorders, many men who find themselves suffering from an eating disorder do not seek or get the proper help.
Males represent 25% of individuals with Anorexia Nervosa and 36% with Binge eating disorder. Although 20 million women in the U.S. will suffer from an eating disorder sometime throughout their life, 10 million men will as well and subclinical eating disordered behaviors (such as starvation, binging and purging, overexercising etc.) are nearly as common among males as they are among female yet the mortality rate for eating disorders among men is higher than it is for women (all of these statistics have been taken from nationaleatingdisorder.org website). I don’t want anyone to be mistaken here. Do I believe that women suffer more pressure from society to look and act a certain way? Yes. Do I think that the notion that there is a “dad bod” but no such thing a “mom bod” is disgusting and a total double standard? Absolutely. But I also believe that, while men might receive more slack, male body shaming does exist in our society. There is a standard that males, especially male models, are held to and this standard can force men to extreme measures to manipulate their bodies into cohersion.
It’s truly disgusting and it’s not an easy fix to just make people aware that men also feel ashamed of their own bodies but it just takes one attitude, one movement, one campaign that is targeted not just towards women but to both men and women to start a chain reaction that causes change. While it is true that no two people experience body dysmorphia the same way is it really that far out to conclude that, at the core, everyone shares similar feelings of insecurity, of the longing to be worthy? At the end of the day, we’re all humans and we should all stick together. Though the battles may be different it does not mean we are fighting two different wars. In a movement so dedicated to displaying love of one’s body, it’s slightly disappointing the lack of attention and validity men receive when expressing their own body insecurities. Equalizing the struggles of men and women with eating disorders, not allowing men to “mansplain” it, or dictate it, but also not allowing women to impose either, that should be the true goal of all awareness campaigns. Normalizing stretch marks and rolls and blemishes and encouraging everyone, not just men and not just women, to love and cherish their body- that should be the new norm.