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.
- NEDIC launches Campaign to Raise Awareness of Male Eating Disorders by Self Help for Realists
- Manorexia by Leviana Coccia
- Manorexia: The Inequality of the Diagnosis by Butler Scholarly Journal