Men suffer from eating disorder issues as well as body image issues. Though men’s eating disorders are under noticed, they are not happening in small numbers. Men’s anorexia and bulimia are rare. Specific kinds of eating disorders geared toward men are gaining in research and awareness. Bigorexia for example, is an eating disorder related to perceiving that your body and muscular makeup are too small. Research is showing that men’s eating disorders are as prevalent as women’s but highly underdiagnosed. As a result, men are more prone to extreme forms of dieting, binging, and purging.
Shame and stigma are common inhibitors to the recovery process for mental health issues such as eating disorders. Male eating disorders are no exception to this unfortunate condition. Eating disorders are generalized as being inherently feminine and indicative of weakness or failure in addition to being effeminate and thereby weak. Due to the shame and stigma surrounding male eating disorders, men are less likely to seek treatment.
Even more troublingly, men are more likely to suffer from illnesses such as depression and relate them to an insufficiency in quality of life. Not only is this due to the shame and stigma that they are ‘failing’ as men for having a ‘female’ problem, but that the quality of who they are as individuals is tightly wound in the perception of how they look physically. So unsettling are these perceptions to men that their likelihood of engaging in risky behaviors are raised. Out of desperation to correct or eliminate the possibility of being judged, men will resort to means such as using steroids.
One study revealed that men were four times as likely to remain undiagnosed with an eating disorder or mental health issue. In addition to the eating disorder itself feeling like a failure, having to ask for help also inspires such emotions in men. Their ideas of self-worth and self-esteem are tightly bonded to their feelings of self-sufficiency.
Sadly, males are less likely to receive peer support. Due to the stigmatising nature of eating disorders, when a suffering male discloses his issue to his peers, they are less likely to be supportive.