There are stories about eating disorders day in and day out. It’s sick, but we love to hear about people who have lost their ability to feed themselves adequately. Though we can’t stop chattering about them, we never seem to be getting the conversation about eating disorders quite right. We screw up in a lot of ways when we discuss eating disorders, but among the most egregious missteps is how we treat those we wouldn’t expect to be sick. Can we please stop associating eating disorders with privileged white girls and start accepting that they happen to all kinds of different people?
Perpetuating the idea that anorexia nervosa is an illness that only afflicts bored white women who need to create their own problems delegitimizes the fact that bored white women can have serious problems, alienates women of color who are suffering, and fosters an environment where very sick men and boys have to face a compounded monster of shame because not only do they have a disease, but they have a feminine disease. To up the ante again, instead of treating male eating disorders with gravity, media outlets will not call it what it is: anorexia, instead, they choose to cutely call it “manorexia.”
Though all adorable portmanteaus using the “orexia” suffix such as drunkorexia are offensively irritating and flippant, manorexia might just be the worst of them. A male bodied person starving themselves is also a mental illness. Just because that person is a dude/bro/guy doesn’t mean he isn’t suffering from anorexia nervosa. It’s a serious disease, not an opportunity to parrot someone else’s crummy attempt at wit.
According to The National Eating Disorder Association 10 million American men suffer from “clinically significant eating disorders” at some point in their lives. Isn’t that notable enough a number for us to stop treating male eating disorders with shock and awe?
Image via Sonni Poeka