The desire to be thin has caused many people to stoop to levels they never dreamed possible, including bingeing and purging food. There are six eating disorders in all, but anorexia nervosa and bulimia are the most common. However, the mental health community is considering adding another to the mix–manorexia.
Whenever you hear of someone sick or dying from a disorder with food, it’s typically a woman. Consequently, studies prove that men are just as likely to have such an issue, but they tend to hide it better as society asserts that men must be strong. One of the most notable cases of anorexia involved singer and superstar Karen Carpenter.
She rocked the world with her impressive three-octave alto vocal range, but the need to be thin dominated her life. Sadly, she was only 32 years old when she passed. Her cause of death was heart failure due to her prolonged battle with an eating disorder. According to History, she died on February 4, 1983. The fight went on for years, but it wasn’t until she was painfully thin that the world took notice.
She isn’t the only star to come out about their struggle with an eating disorder. There’ve been others with this condition, such as Tracey Gold, Lady Gaga, Princess Diana, Candace Cameron Bure, and Mary-Kate Olsen, to name a few. An article posted on The Recovery Village mentioned these names, but they also named Elton John and Russell Brand.
These are just two of the many men who have come forward with their food disorders, but how many everyday people suffer in silence? Why do men feel like they can’t get help with these problems, and why are the statistics only now just noticing?
Why Are Men Suffering in Silence?
Movie stars and supermodels are two careers where you hear about many people who starve themselves to fit in. The fashion industry is especially plagued by such occurrences. Just this year, during Paris Fashion Week, the world noticed one of the participants.
It was a male model who was painfully thin. In fact, his presence was so shocking that word of his condition spread like wildfire. Reporters from sites like Daily Mail described him as having legs that looked like toothpicks and that his cheeks were sunken in showing his skeleton. The problem is that society views both anorexia and bulimia as conditions that women develop, not men. So, this came across as shocking news to some folks.
A study published by the Canadian Medical Association states that only ten to fifteen percent of those with these dieting disorders are male. However, some trends show that these instances are rising, and it’s time for both men and women to get equal attention for this mental health concern.
Though there’s undoubtedly a shifting demographic, finding a place to treat someone with manorexia may be complicated. Most of these recovery centers focus on women’s healing, as they see this as a “female issue.” What does a doctor do when a male presents with these food disorders?
The standard therapy doesn’t always work since how a man and woman processes stress and triggers differ. Sure, they both struggle with a sense of self, and they have some obsessive-compulsive tendencies, but some differences cannot be ignored concerning treatment.
Knowing how to treat someone with manorexia will likely require new guidelines and training. Understanding body dissatisfaction for males will be an adjustment from that of females. So, is it time for the mental health community to get on board with this growing problem?
What Psychologists Think About Manorexia?
It’s not a commonly addressed problem, so very few psychologists deal with this regularly. However, Bruce W. Cameron specializes in helping people with addictive behaviors, specifically regarding compulsions. He states that he has received a growing number of referrals for food disorders, but since his agency is not equipped to handle these specific conditions, he refers them out to other psychologists.
He’s notated a growing demand for treating men with manorexia. The real issue is that the agencies he refers to are only equipped and trained to handle women, so these people aren’t qualified to understand the male developmental struggles. So, he’s concerned that these therapists are getting an influx of clients they aren’t equipped to treat, and these professionals might also turn them away.
Even more troubling, states Cameron, is that he’s getting more males in the younger age groups. When kids are bullied by other children about their weight, they become confused about what to do. They may try dieting, but they resort to bingeing and purging when that doesn’t work.
Even though children learn healthy food guidelines in school, many don’t have such groceries. This is primarily a concern when the children come from homes below the poverty line. It’s much easier to get a $1 cheeseburger at a fast-food place than make salads and eat healthily.
Society expects a lady to have a figure with a curvy top and a plump bottom. However, culture also demands things from guys. To be considered a catch, men are required to have a chiseled six-pack and a muscular physique more so than a flabby one.
Sadly, the guidelines set by society and Hollywood are not feasible, and many people struggle to fit in. When males become overweight, they get excess tissue in the breast area and the stomach. They can be the subject of ridicule and harassment, just like girls.
While it’s more acceptable by societal standards for a guy to have a little more weight than a lady, there’s a point when they tip from chubby to overweight.
Six Red Flags That Reveal Manorexia
Having a disorder that affects your eating habits is a mental illness. It’s a belief beyond the scope of normal realms, and it can impact your life. Parents must open their eyes and watch their children for any signs of a food disorder, whether they be male or female.
The scary part is that people die from anorexia and bulimia, even if they get help. So, it’s time to take the gender-specific blinders off and see this urgent condition for the danger it is. People die from these conditions, but it depends on how long the problem has persisted and the destruction done to the organs.
Karen Carpenter had access to the best therapists and treatment programs around, but it was too late–damage done. The mental illness won in her instance.
However, the sooner you get your loved one help, the better the chances are for survival. Here are six red flags to consider about manorexia.
1. Extreme Weight Loss
According to the Health Board, anyone who loses more than two pounds per week has extreme weight loss. However, people with these disorders can lose much more than this amount.
2. Wearing Baggy Clothes to Camouflage Their Body
Look for signs of weight loss followed by a need to hide their body. If they’ve lost too much weight, they will camouflage it with clothes. They might wear a baggy hoodie in the middle of summer.
3. Yellowish Skin
The organs can become damaged after dealing with conditions like anorexia and bulimia. One of the signs of a compromised liver is yellow skin. You may also notice severe dry skin patches. That’s because they are not receiving hydration and nourishment.
4. Bingeing and Purging
Watch for signs of bingeing and purging. While they won’t do it right in front of you, they may run to the bathroom or outside after a meal. It’s also not uncommon for large amounts of food to be missing from the house, like a whole cake. You may discover them having binge sessions late at night too.
5. Intolerance of Cold
When you lose a lot of weight, you develop an intolerance to the cold. The muscles help keep the body warm, and when you lose too much weight, you can also lose muscles. Additionally, they can develop thyroid or blood pressure issues that make the cold unbearable.
6. Intense Fear of Gaining Weight
Someone with anorexia is afraid of gaining an ounce. They may skip meals, eat like a bird, or eat low-calorie items like salads. Notice any changes in eating habits, taking diet pills, or obsessing about exercise. These are all signs that someone needs help.
Final Thoughts on Manorexia
According to the National Library of Medicine, food disorders often stem from emotional problems and are brought on by disturbing thoughts and emotions. While treatable, it’s something that most keep as a guarded secret. Since more men struggle with these conditions, where do they go for help?
Males may be less apt to reach out for assistance if, when they do, no one can take them. It’s essential to recognize the signs of an issue in your kids or a loved one, but it’s also time to bring more attention to this growing problem. If people like well-known celebrities, who have money, a large fan base, and are successful can struggle, then anyone can.