We don’t see much in the press about men and eating disorders. This is unfortunate as it is a very real problem. Women continue to outnumber the number of males with eating disorders. However, this doesn’t mean that men aren't impacted by them as well. According to statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association, more than a million men and boys battle the illness every day. 40% of binge eaters are men.
In a recent edition of New York Magazine, there was an article about “manorexic mannequins.” They noted that men are beginning to feel the same pressure women have experienced to have a particular body shape and type, which is reflected in mannequins and clothing style. According to the article, the “metrosexual” style is suggesting that men slim down their body for the "trendiest, string-beaniest clothing." The article also mentioned a British company that is releasing their latest mannequin entitled the “Homme Noveau” which has a 35 inch chest and a 27 inch waist. The Average waist size of the American male (as noted in the article is 39.7 inches).
In 1967 this company’s mannequins had a chest of 42 inches and a 33 inch waist.
In 2010, the same company has shrunk the mannequins down by seven inches in the chest and five inches in the waist.
Do we see pressure for men to have an “ideal body type” in other ways besides mannequins? Sure. Men are now being subjected to airbrushing in the media to give them the perfect body. Take Andy Roddick, a tennis play, who was featured in Men’s Health Magazine. The magazine quite noticeably added a muscular torso and arms. Click here to see the article in Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/id/231629 for the “before” and “after" pictures. Like women, seeing these airbrushed images does shape how men think about their bodies.
Again, keep in mind that eating disorders are biological, psychological, social problems. Therefore, genetics determines one’s predisposition and the environment often serves as the trigger. Clothing and media are just one type of environmental trigger (there are many others). So, if we continue to see a slimming down of mannequins and new, unrealistic pictures of men in the media, will we continue to see a rise in eating disorders?
Unfortunately, the term "manorexia" (as noted in this article) may suggest that there is something unique about anorexia amongst men. In fact, there is not. Male or female, the symptoms are generally the same (except that men do not experience a stop in their period at a low weight as women do). Manorexia is not an clinical term, just one created to reflect the previous gender gap in the prevalence of the disorder.
Hopefully, we continue to see more resources, treatment options and education for men about eating disorders.
To find specific information eating disorders for males see:
Also consult one of the national experts on males & eating disorders, Leigh Cohen, author of Making Weight www.gurze.net
Males With Eating Disorders by Arnold E. Andersen
The best clinical book regarding males and eating disorders
My Life As A Male Anorexic by Michael Krasnow
Excellent: it takes all of the "glamour" out of eating disorders
To learn about mindful eating for men: Eating Mindfully
* Journal of American College Health. 2008 May-Jun;56(6):617-21.
Eating disorders and body image of undergraduate men.