National Eating Disorders Association
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Men

Editor's Note: CW - This post includes the mention of specific eating disorders thoughts/behaviors.

 

It was another fun Saturday night dinner with the guys. Everyone had paid their bills, and it was time for us to go our separate ways. Before taking off, I grabbed my friend Adam’s dinner receipt, and put it in my back pocket. 

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The topic of body image is a constant discussion topic in the eating disorders community, especially more and more as we begin to see the harmful effects of diet culture and the prevalence of anti-fat bias. The deeper we dive into the subject, the more we learn how weight stigma affects our bodies. Well, not really all bodies. We know a lot about how it affects one specific type of body—the white cis-gendered female one.

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In this day and age with all the apps, dating has become mainstream. But, while it’s become extremely accessible for all communities, it’s also become ever fleeting. You meet someone and there’s one thing you don’t like about them, so you go on the apps and continue to swipe. This could lead to a date that night. Now imagine this scenario, but add in the fact that I am in recovery from an eating disorder and struggle with body image issues—that’s a whole other can of worms. 

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It was the summer of 1977. I had just graduated from college, summa cum laude with honors. I had gotten accepted to an Ivy League graduate program and decided to take a year off before enrolling. I had applied for an internship in Washington DC with my congresswoman and planned to spend the year in DC.  Unfortunately, the internship did not come through. With DC off the table, I did not really have a Plan B for my “gap” year. 

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30 Million Americans will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their life and 10 million of those are men, a number that I think is extremely underrepresented due to the stigmas that surround mental health and men. Eating disorders in men is something you hear far too little about, but it’s something I am far too familiar with. And thanks to NEDA taking steps to spread awareness of not only eating disorders in general but men in particular, the word is beginning to spread.

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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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