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Plausible Causes for Male Eating Disorders

In 2007 Harvard study reported that out of 3,000 adults 40% of binge eaters and those with eating disorders were male. Only a couple of years ago eating disorders were characteristic for women only with cases involving men being so few that doctors rarely turned attention to them. These days, however, things have changed significantly, and out of five million Americans who suffer from eating disorders each year the percentage of males is tangible. Eating disorders may be defined as “a group of conditions that involve dysfunctional eating habits, body image disturbance, and weight change” (Sloane, Slatt, Ebell, Jacques, and Smith 207); they usually include anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, and eating disorder not otherwise specified. (Sloane et al. 207) Earlier, a man with bulimia or anorexia was a rare occurrence but the present-day statistics are simply shocking. How come that the cases of male eating disorders became so numerous? Plausible causes for eating disorders in males are the clothes they wear and the time they spend to make themselves look better; the second cause may be regarded as an alternative because it can be objected to.

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What should be mentioned above all is that the clothes which men tend to wear make it easy to disguise any problems with their weight. This is true for both exceed and insufficient weight for any of these may be hidden under baggy T-shirts and pants; such clothes suits anorexics perfectly because they “can hide their hated bodies under layers and layers of baggy clothes.” (Langley 18) Not all women have such a possibility because they have to wear skirts that leave their legs open and which let everybody judge which shape the woman is in, as well as tight blouses that parade the woman’s imperfections. It is namely because of these clothes that women have to stay in shape all the time; if men were made to wear tighter clothes some decades ago, they would have cared more about their bodies, which would have raised the problem with male eating disorders much earlier. Thus, baggy clothes make it possible for the men to hide the imperfections of their bodies, which accounts for the fact that their eating disorders are not easy to notice.

Secondly, most men are not preoccupied with their weight and the way they look in general. There is hardly a man, who can spend several hours in the bathroom or front of the mirror, as well as there are a few men who care whether they have cellulite; even those who do care are ready to peacefully live with it and enjoy their lives to the fullest extent. The case is different with women because certain beauty standards regarding their body proportions exist for them (or at least they keep to this idea). Women are constantly under social pressure; they always think about how they look and what other people think about them, which serves as a motivation for their constant diets and visits to beauty centers. Men, on the contrary, face the “absence of this incessant social pressure to be slim,” (Andersen 179) which deprives them of this motivation and results in their indifference about how they look. Therefore, the absence of social pressure and men’s indifference about their weight may be a possible cause for the increasing number of male eating disorders.

However, there exists an objection to the last cause, though this objection may be considered a plausible cause as well. The last cause is limited by the phrase “most of the men”. The matter is that lately, the media started portraying men no less often than women, which results in some men’s increased interest in their body images. Television and modern fashion magazines never depict men-models with exceed weight, or, if they do, these men are rather an example of how not to look. This led to some of the men being preoccupied with the same issues as women are. Young men with perfect bodies are depicted in the magazine front covers and are the main characters in TV advertisements; they are portrayed as handsome, attractive, and having several women fans. Such a portrayal may lead to an inferiority complex in some of the men who look less attractive, which may make them go on a diet and get an eating disorder. So, “it is perfectly plausible that changing images of men portrayed in the media might be at the root of the growing epidemic of male eating problems.” (Morgan 57)

Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, it can be concluded that eating disorders in males became no less frequent than in females. One of the plausible reasons for these disorders is the clothes that men wear and which gives them a possibility to hide the imperfections of their bodies. One more cause is the indifference of men about the way they look due to the absence of social pressure; this cause can be objected to because some men started caring about the way they look due to the portrayal of young attractive males by media. This objection presents the possible cause of male eating disorders, namely the men’s desire to resemble men’s models and their dissatisfaction with their body images as a result. These causes are plausible this is why thorough research is needed to prove that they can be real.

Works Cited

Andersen, Arnold E. Males with Eating Disorders. Psychology Press, 1990.

Langley, Jenny. Boys Get Anorexia Too: Coping with Male Eating Disorders in the Family. Paul Chapman Publishing, 2006.

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Morgan, John F. The Invisible Man: A Self-Help Guide for Men with Eating Disorders, Compulsive Exercise and Bigarexia. Routledge, 2008.

Sloane, Philip D., Slatt, Lisa M., Ebell, Mark H., Jacques, Louis B., and Smith, Mindy A. Essentials of Family Medicine. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2007.

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