The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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Eating disorders’ effect on men ignored

As a woman, I have been exposed to images for many years that have created the idea of what beauty is for me. These images and messages shaped what beauty and acceptance is in society, and helped me on the path to try to create and maintain a size four, or even get down to a size two, regardless of how I got there.

I was born at the same time as the emergence of the supermodel who is ultra-thin, has more money than she knows what to do with because she is thin and pretty and capable of throwing temper tantrums and getting financially rewarded for it. There is an amazing sense of inadequacy that I would feel if I tried to compare my thighs to a supermodel’s thighs, or any part of my body to a supermodel’s.

I confess, I am an average-sized girl, and there are parts of my body I would give anything to change and have tried to do so in the past, including pills, diets, and other nefarious methods of control. I was greatly surprised to learn, however, that women are not the only victims of controlling their own image, as 10 to 20 percent of those suffering from an eating disorder are men, according to studies by Dr. DB Woodside of Toronto General Hospital.

This means that there are around one million men in the U.S. who suffer from an eating disorder, according to the International Eating Disorder Referral Organization.

How is it possible that men have that same fear of being labeled the “fat friend” when so many images are created by what the media deems acceptable?

If so many of us are creating the images of the self from media, then what explains the insecurities of men fostered by men who are in power of the images?

Men are not judged by the size of their breasts or the inches in their waistline in the way that women are. Listen to a Tom Leykis program, and he will inform anyone who is listening how it is the size of the wallet for the man to get what he wants. He states that the more money a man has, the prettier the girl he will get, and vice versa.

Many will say that eating disorders are not relevant to the average man. There are fewer media messages aimed at men regarding weight loss than at women. Men, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, don’t feel the same pressures as women to be thin. Yet, underweight men who were happy with their image accounted for 77 percent, while 83 percent of underweight women were happy with their images.

According to NEDA, men and women have eating disorders for similar, if not exactly the same, reasons. It is a distortion of the self-image, where the ideal is the “V-shaped muscular man.”

A person’s image is the first thing that attracts. Before someone speaks, they say volumes with how they dress, wear their hair, take care of themselves and use their body language.

In today’s society, beauty is power for both men and women. There are male supermodels who earn large sums of money just for having the right size and look. In movies, there is the friend, either male or female, who is overweight and the cut-up or sidekick. The movie “Hitch” is a perfect example of the less-than-perfect man having to hire someone and use wacky methods to help him get the supermodel girl.

If society takes cues from mass media, which it apparently does, then it is little wonder that men suffer from the same insecurities as we women do. They either must have enough money so it doesn’t matter what they look like, or they must work on their image just as much as women do.

Eating disorders affect all aspects of a person’s life, regardless of their sex. It discourages me to know that image is everything for both men and women, and men are often ignored in the discussions of these life-threatening diseases.

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