The incidence of eating disorders among females has been so prevalent that males are often ignored when it comes to these types of problems. Since many people tend to associate females with eating disorders, males who suffer from alike disorders can feel reluctant to find help. A person’s gender does not determine whether or not someone can recover from an eating disorder and the longer someone waits, the harder it will be to rehabilitate. With the ongoing problems of eating disorders, Western society needs to pay attention to the male gender as well when it comes to anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa or else males will be continually tortured from these diseases that, with help, can be treated.
Eating disorders among men are continually increasing, although it is hard to determine how many of them are suffering. In a study that was conducted by the University of Toronto, researchers found that one out of every six people who are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa are male, though this could be much higher if males were not affected by the gender gap that separates women from men when dealing with eating disorders. Since our society has made it quite evident that men should be strong and muscular through media, television, movies, magazines and so on, men feel the need to live up to society’s standards, which women can relate to as well. A study done by Morry and Staska presents how media exposure can affect the ideal body image, for women it is thin and for men it is physically fit. This study can be related to problematic eating behavior, self-objectification, and body shame (Morry and Staska 278). However, men seem to diet or start eating disorders when they are overweight, whereas women develop such disorders when they are not. This is because men often struggle from pressure to be muscular rather than thin, which is the opposite of what women strive. Women tend to form eating disorders to outline a thinner body structure without muscle definition. Experts say that those who fall victim to eating disorders think that they can reach the ideal body image by suffering. These people may also feel better about themselves because they think that they can control their weight by not eating, which tells us that the issue may not be weight, but rather about emotional feelings and self-esteem. Such feelings can be detected when the person becomes moody, irritable, touchy, angered and becomes socially isolated (ANRED).
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Warning signs for eating disorders vary from men to women, although they do hold some similarities. Similar warning signs among men and women include: bingeing, purging, going to the bathroom after a full meal, a drastic decrease in body weight, low self-esteem and fear of fatness. Men tend to hide their disorders and find it difficult to tell others about their problems which then make it harder for them to find help. Although it is hard for women to admit that they have eating disorders, they are more likely to tell someone about them, especially since our society highly relates eating disorders to females. This social attachment allows for men to feel that they cannot suffer from an eating disorder since women seem to be the ones who are associated with them. Since eating disorders are highly associated with women, men then see eating disorders as a feminine problem indicative of homosexuality in a man, although this is not necessarily true. However, “it has been argued that, if eating disorders arise from ambiguities and tensions inherent in the traditional female gender role and in mainstream expectations of women, homosexual men, susceptible to pressures to conform to a stereotype of attractiveness which is pleasing to other men, may be more at risk than heterosexual men,” (Lee and Owens 61).
There are more similarities between men and women other than the warning signs; men and women have similar reasons why they engage in eating disorders as well. It is more common today that you will find male magazines that often imitate that of a female beauty magazine. Articles and tips on how to improve hair, skin and body parts can all be found in magazines for either sex. With the articles, the magazines often provide examples or models that seem perfect. This is how men and women can start to think that they need to stop eating in order to be like the models that they constantly see. Men also have certain things that at one time, women would only possess. For example, it is common that men use gel and even dye their hair nowadays which suggests that men in fact, are being pressured to reach an ideal image, just as women have been trying to do. Surgery for men is also another factor that is becoming more popular among males. Surgery that will help fix a receding hairline, facial wrinkles and a pot belly have all been pEven though men and women are different in many ways, they do have some things in common, and sadly, eating disorders are one of them. It seems as though our society pushes too hard to assimilate everyone in to the ideal individual. Women have been struggling from social pressure for many years and men could have been too, but it is only now that we are recognizing that men suffer from these emotional diseases and stresses. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are among both genders, we just need to pay attention a little more and we will see that women are not the only ones who fall as victims to these diseases.
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