Men Get Eating Disorders Too
Eating disorders are often presented as a female-only issue. When we discuss them there is an assumption that the sufferer is a woman. Imagine someone said to you, ‘My friend has anorexia.’ The resultant visual image will probably be a female one. While it is true that, statistically, women are still more likely to suffer from an eating disorder, this could of course be because male sufferers are still less inclined to come forward and acknowledge the issue.
Eating disorders are also synonymous with depression – a condition which, again, has a tendency to be perceived as something only women suffer from. Logic is traditionally seen as the remit of men, whereas women are emotional creatures. While this view is a little antiquated, the idea is certainly all-pervading enough to influence our perception of eating disorders. Eating disorders are emotional and they certainly aren’t logical, and therefore they are seen as a ‘female’ condition.
A huge step forward in raising public awareness of eating disorders in men in Britain occurred in April 2008, when the UK was shocked by the news that ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott had suffered from bulimia nervosa. The story served to debunk many myths – it proved that eating disorders are not the remit of the young, nor those in aesthetically driven careers. It also demonstrated the extent to which the illness can be kept secret – a man who was in the public eye pretty much every day of his several years in office had been suffering behind closed doors, while the nation remained totally oblivious. (In retrospect, Lord Prescott agrees that his chosen profession and being under such close public scrutiny in fact fuelled his eating disorder.)
Now fully recovered, Lord Prescott believes that more can and should be done to raise awareness of male eating disorders. His experiences show without doubt that men having the courage to come forward and acknowledge their condition can have a positive impact in encouraging other men to seek the help they need.
‘Men Get Eating Disorders Too’ is a charitable organisation founded by Sam Thomas, that seeks to raise awareness of eating disorders in men so men are able to recognise their symptoms and access support when they need it. http://mengetedstoo.co.uk/ .