The Category Is...
I look forward to the day when I can be just an eating disorder advocate and not have to specify the fact that I’m a male. After all, eating disorders don’t give a damn about your gender. They can and do impact anybody! Male, female, non-binary, it doesn’t matter. Trust me, I know a guy!
Earlier this week I was researching categories for the book on Amazon. I quickly found that several marketplaces have a category for eating disorders under “Women’s Health”. However, when you go to “Men’s Health” the only options were related to sex drive, hair loss, and fitness.
At first, I was mad that they would just assume eating disorders are a feminine issue but then it dawned on me. Why would there be a book category for eating disorders under “Men’s Health” when not many guys have openly talked about their battles. I realized that what I’m doing is unique and in some ways pioneer-like.
During my recovery, I’ve stumbled across two other men who wrote books about their eating disorder battles. That’s it! And I’ve done a lot of searching. But that does not mean there are many others out there battling in silence right now.
Thanks to the stigmas and stereotypes, men don’t speak up about their emotional or mental health. We must do better as a society to break those stigmas and it starts with the youth. At a young age, it’s ingrained in us boys that we must be tough and strong otherwise we are inferior. By the time I was in second grade, I already knew that “boys don’t cry.” And this didn’t come from my parents, it came from my interaction with the media and others.
Then throw in the stereotype we hold about eating disorders. What’s the first image that comes to your mind when I ask you to picture someone with an eating disorder? More than likely a young, skinny female. Yup, that’s who I always pictured. That’s part of the reason why the thought of an eating disorder never even crossed my mind, and also why it was tough to realize I actually needed help after my diagnosis.
I see it all the time on social media. Health coaches and nutritionists offer eating disorder recovery services tailored for women. Daily recovery affirmations that feminize eating disorders with the use of she/her pronouns. I’ve even been turned down from appearing on some podcasts or having my story published on websites because eating disorders are a “women’s health issue” and I don’t fit the demographic.
Yes, I’ll acknowledge that eating disorders rates are much higher among women than among men, but last time I checked a life is a life. We need to be inclusive of ALL stories. We must make it clear that eating disorders do not discriminate.
I’m not mad at Amazon for having eating disorders under “Women’s Health”, rather I am more motivated than ever to change the narrative and confront the stigmas and stereotypes that are preventing men from asking for and getting the help they need.
Who’s with me?!