Men Develop Eating Disorders, Too

Picture the perfect man. Six-pack. Package barely swaddled in briefs. Chiselled pecs. Giant delts. Massive, lean horseshoe tris. Sexy 5-o'clock-shadow, but not too hairy, you know?

It's a tall order: from the enviable ass-kicking physique of Brad Pitt in Fight Club to Christian Bale's ultra-jacked look in Batman, the average guy has miles to go to live up to the Hollywood ideal.

Given the totally messed-up beauty standards that Western society has imposed on women for the past couple hundred years, it should come as no surprise that male levels of body dissatisfaction are now approaching those reported by women, according to the National Eating Disorders Collaboration.

While fewer men ( which definitely isn't to say a negligible percentage) develop eating disorders in their quest to get skinnier, relentlessly obsessing over getting ripped can be just as destructive as the quest to be model-thin.

While anyone can fall into unhealthy patterns of restricting food intake, over-exercising, bingeing, or just generally feeling like crap about food, men who take part in sports with a focus on aesthetic ideals and weight classes are particularly at risk.

We're looking at you, weight lifters, wrestlers, gymnasts, dancers, jockeys and body builders, as well as gay men. All groups disproportionately found to suffer from eating disorders. It's estimated that men now comprise up to 20% of people suffering from anorexia.

In addition to the secrecy and self-loathing that go hand-in-hand with any eating disorder, men with body image issues are assailed by additional shame: anorexia, a condition traditionally associated with women, carries even greater stigma than most mental illnesses, making it even harder to ask for help.

Regardless, some men are speaking out about eating disorders - a trend that is, one would hope, reducing the sense of isolation experienced by men and boys struggling with self-destructive behaviour and body dysmorphic thoughts. Clinics including Monarch Cove and Fairwinds offer eating disorder treatment programs specifically tailored to men - and as we get more okay with talking about toxic masculinity in North America, perhaps more will follow suit.

h/t GQ, Vice

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