Manorexia: Not a Joke

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Yesterday at work, a man made an offhand comment about having rice instead of french fries.  “I’m on a diet,” he grinned, patting his normal-sized stomach.

“Oh, a little bit of manorexia never hurt anybody.”  Laughter broke out in the kitchen as another man remarked jokingly.

I stood to the side, trying to figure out how to respond.  My co-workers are such wonderful people, but this response to a serious issue troubled me deeply.  How can you laugh about disease that millions of men have but hide out of shame?  What about the people who die from an eating disorder?  Did that really “never hurt anybody?”

Before I knew a great deal about eating disorders (despite having one), I thought of them as a girl problem.  Treatment forced me to meet all types of people.  Men, women, athletes, artists, psychologists, children, dancers, and rugby players – all types of people suffer from eating disorders.  This includes many men.

However, males resist help more often and for longer than females.  This only makes their problems more dangerous and perpetuates myths about eating disorders.  Sadly, many boys end up with other addictions, serious health issues, and/or eventually death by  suicide/heart failure/etc.  Never hurt anybody?  “Manorexia” is a serious issue not a stupid joke.

As mentioned before, the men joking at work are good people.  However, even the best of us make mistakes.  We need to learn from hurtful things that we say and do to make a change for the better.  Laughing about mental illness of any kind is never appropriate or humorous.  Male eating disorders are a painful disease that our society needs to grow in awareness of so that we can help those struggling.

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8 thoughts on “Manorexia: Not a Joke

  1. Thanks so much for linking my post to yours!! Much appreciated!! Have a great day.

  2. arbjorlin says:

    I agree with you that male eating disorders are just as big an issue as female ones! While female eating disorders may be more prevalent in our society, male eating disorders are just as serious. I appreciated that you included the fact that males resist help more often and for longer than females, because that is very true. Since it’s not as surprising for a girl to have an eating disorder as a boy, it’s understandable that they hide their conditions longer than girls might.

    • Even guys with eating disorders have a hard time believing that they have one sometimes, so it makes sense that others also overlook this important issue. Thanks for reading and such a thoughtful comment!

  3. I don’t understand why people think these things are okay to joke about or even why they find these jokes funny. After a girl in my class attempted suicide, people were making suicide jokes (I ended up pretending to be sick for nearly a week to avoid having to hear that).

  4. Chris says:

    While I appreciate the content of this article and it raises a good issue, unfortunately the photo of someone holding a sign about Barbie vs. Ken is my intellectual property and was used without my permission and was credited to a blog I am not affiliated with. Please remove it immediately or I will need to report it to WordPress for copyright infringement.

    • I am sorry that I gave credit to the wrong blog which is where I found the image. It is rare that I ever use content from anywhere else, so I am sorry that you happened to be upset with my use of your image and that I made this mistake. The image is removed and I hope that you have no more problems with people using it without your consent.

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