National Eating Disorders Association

Eating Disorders in Men: Not a Phase, Not a Choice, Not a Joke

Alexander Kovarovic

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.

I’ve gone through depression. I’ve gone through anxiety, social anxiety, and panic attacks, and I’ve self-harmed. I have even attempted suicide in the past. But for me, the eating disorder I had was much more difficult than anything else I have gone through. Many people don’t think eating disorders are that serious and that they are just “someone not eating a lot.” The truth is that eating disorders are a challenge. They are a road block. But with that said, you shouldn’t just give up.  

When I first started noticing a change in my eating pattern, I got really scared. I thought something really bad would happen or that something was very wrong with me. I began not liking who I was as a person and what I looked like. I also began getting very anxious about my appearance, so my eating disorder only got worse. 

The eating disorder itself was not the worst part of it for me. The worst part was the bullying and the harassment that came along with having an eating disorder. I would go out with my friends or even my family and everyone would always look at me strangely. People thought it was very odd that I could sit there and not eat very much. It’s hard to really explain an eating disorder to someone, so no one in my life really understood what was going on with me and my body image. It was like it was joke that I didn’t eat. To this day, I will still never understand why someone would make fun of and bully someone going through a situation that they can’t control.

Another very hard thing I had to deal with was being a guy. So many people think that only women can get eating disorders. Yes, it is very true that out of the whole population, more women do have eating disorders compared to men. However, what about the guys who do have eating disorders? They should not be sidelined and I used to see that so much. My friends and family would look at me and then say, “It doesn’t look like you have an eating disorder.” This was the statement that I hated hearing the most. Teens and adults who suffer from eating disorders don’t always “look like they have one.” Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, and people never should be judged for going through it. That person might be struggling with their body image or self-esteem, which means bullying only makes them feel worse. 

We have to learn to respect everyone, no matter what we look like. The inside qualities are what are most important! I never, ever thought I would get better, and I thought I’d have to live with an eating disorder for the rest of my life. With that being said, I still found the strength to fight through it and I found the strength to start to love myself. It all took time. It took me two years and I still struggle from time to time. Never, ever give up. I fought through my eating disorder in baby steps and that’s okay! Most importantly, don’t let your eating disorder define you. You are so much more than that.

For recovery resources and treatment options, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 800-931-2237.

Alexander Kovarovic is an 18-year-old writer, as well as an abuse, suicide attempt, and eating disorder survivor. He also lived with depression and anxiety, and now wants to help other teens get through their personal life struggles.