Skinny Jeans, Men and Eating Disorders

Men are not only wrestling with Eating Disorders but also the rise in the wretched skinny jean fashion!

The fashion industry is long aimed at women alone.  Increasingly we see unrealistic, unobtainable male models who are of an unhealthy size.

It is now estimated that at least 10% of anorexics, bulimic s and binge eaters are male.  Many believe that the recent shift in the fashion industry and media using very skinny male models are to blame for this.  For some reason comedian Russell Brand’s skinny physique has become somewhat of a sensation which is great for him and his skinny jeans but not so great for the rest of mankind!

Eating Disorders affect anyone and everyone.   However, most people make the mistake that sufferers tend to be white, middle class and teenage.  

Men are known to visit the doctor far less than women, particularly young men, so this could be the tip of the iceberg where Eating Disorders and body image problems where men are concerned.

Men are also coming under increasing pressure to look like the cover of “Men’s Health” magazine – a problem women have felt similar pressure for many years.  This presents it’s own gender specific problems such as the perfect 6 pac.  Manorexia and Bigorexia are terms most are not familiar with but they relate to when men become dangerously muscle bound in the pursuit of perfection.  Sound familiar ladies?!

Can you imagine what it must be like to be suffering from an Eating Disorder when you are male when the rest of society believes it to be a female only affliction?  Chances are that GP’s and health professionals, even mental health professionals, will fail to recognise your symptoms.  However, these professionals will say that early diagnosis and treatment is paramount!  Also, men have the added problem that admitting to having such a problem simply isn’t macho.  There’s nothing wimpy about an eating disorder!

Thankfully there are some folks over at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundations Trust and  Canterbury Christchurch University say “In talking to men suffering eating and body image problems, they told me they felt male eating disorders were an invisible issue and that eating disorders were thought to only affect women. They felt very alone with their eating disorders and worried about how people would react if they found out. The men we spoke to had found it difficult to admit to themselves and others that their eating behaviours were problematic and that they needed some support. This meant that many of the men waited a considerable amount of time before seeking help.”  They are keen to do something to make a difference to the lives of these individuals.

As far as where these issues can start, childhood bullying is a very common in the start of an Eating Disorder.  Many men who were overweight as kids were teased at school.  70% of young people start a diet at some stage.  It’s therefore not surprising that some of these end up with and Eating Disorder.

A group of men in Brighton with Eating Disorders have started a petition to try and get a better understanding from health professionals.  If you would like to sign up please follow this link 100,000 signatures on an e-petition 

Also, if any of the issues raised has moved you into action, please check out my upcoming workshop/seminar  on body image – details on front page of the website.  You will be most welcome to come along and will be amongst many who suffer the same things!