National Eating Disorders Association
Blog
Men

National Minority Mental Health Month may be winding down, but the conversation about mental health in marginalized communities doesn’t — and shouldn’t — stop. Mental health issues don’t discriminate. Although eating disorders have historically been associated with young, cisgender, straight, white, upper-class females, they can affect anyone. They don’t choose any one race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, ability, or any other classification. While anyone can have an eating disorder, minorities tend to face unique obstacles when dealing with mental health issues.

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We are seeing the days of stoicism begin to crack, and under that tough guy superman facade are living, breathing, young men who struggle daily. When our culture shames men for acknowledging emotions, slowing down, allowing creativity, or connecting with one another, we never get to feel better. 

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Imagine you take one of those vibrating back-massagers (the kind that look like little plastic squid creatures you might find at a CVS) and place it on the back of your head. Then, use duct tape to secure the massager to your head by wrapping the tape around your jaw - kind of like a birthday party hat. Go ahead and turn the device on.

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“Be sure to eat your vegetables.” For me, this saying was an everyday staple of my childhood, and although it has been nearly half a decade since I last lived with my parents, I still try my best to follow a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, though, I entrapped myself in this philosophy to the point that I was becoming withdrawn from my friends and creating a relationship with food that was devoid of enjoyment at both the social and sensory levels.

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For all of my childhood, I was considered "overweight." Whether it was my food choices or just genetics I'm not sure, but I was okay with it. I was a happy kid and I enjoyed life and everything it had to offer. As I started to get older, people like family friends, coaches, and peers would say things to me or my parents about my weight. 

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Waking up at 2am thinking about food. Surfing the internet at work, looking up new recipes when you have a deadline coming up. Planning and stopping at fast food restaurants between every meal. 

This isn’t a buildup to a funny meme about loving food. This was my life until I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED) at 28 years old.

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Mike Marjama currently has a successful career as an American baseball catcher for the Seattle Mariners, but he once struggled with an eating disorder that threatened his ability to play the sport he loves. As a teen, Marjama attended Granite Bay High School in California and later played baseball for California State University. While in high school, Marjama developed an eating disorder that eventually led to inpatient treatment. 

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From fear of judgment at the gym during “resolution season” to fear of failure when asking for a raise, all of us deal with fear every single day. One of my big goals at this time in my life is to live fearlessly.

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Everyone faces obstacles. No matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live, we all face road blocks while moving forward in life. Some of us get through them very easily while others struggle through each one, hanging on by the smallest of tree limbs. Most of us have one thing that has really affected our life. For me, that one thing was my eating disorder.

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Approximately 30 million people will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives – 10 million of those people are men. Despite the statistics, men with eating disorders are often mocked, belittled, or ignored in a culture that views eating disorders as a disease that affects only wealthy white women. 

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