Where Them Boys At

It’s funny. Sometimes we get so wrapped up talking about women and body image and diets that we forget there is an entire 50% of the world that just might also be struggling with similar issues.

That’s right, Ladies (and gentlemen); sometimes the boys are the ones with body image issues, disordered eating patterns, unhealthy “diets” to lose a few pounds.   And, today, that reminder smacked me in the face. Literally.

Today, I was hanging out with a good friend when he (that’s right, HE) tells me that he paid to take part in a weight loss program and he can only eat very little at each meal by program standards.  He counts everything, all day, to make sure he does not go over the limits.  He tried to convince me it was not so bad by telling me that he wants to “cut down”. 

Now, just to be clear, this male friend of mine does not need to lose any weight.  And, he’s hungry. All the time. And, even worse, it seems like he thinks he needs this. Not true. Not at all.

And, that makes me wonder. How many men suffer? And, do they suffer in silence, partly due to the stigma surrounding these issues just like for women but also due to the fact that they are men, and men don’t have these issues. Right? Right? Nope. That’s actually not right at all. Not right. At all.

In 2008, the National Library of Medicine reported that males account for 5% to 15% of all patients who are diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia and the boys also account for a whopping 35% of all patients diagnosed with binge eating disorder, and these numbers come from men who decided to get help.  Imagine how many more are overlooked.

In a world where magazines and television ads and everything else make women feel like we could always have slimmer thighs, flatter abs, smaller waistlines, couldn’t it also be true that magazines and television ads and everything else remind men of the possible 6 pack/washboard abs, the perfect muscular physique, the need to blast the flab? 

Turns out, despite our differences, men and women share this: when the world tells us we can be thinner, should want to be thinner, and should be thinner, a lot of us listen, sometimes pushing us to get healthier, and sometimes pushing us to disastrous results.  After all, being hungry is no way to live.  And, that goes for women, and men.

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