Stop Calling It Manorexia

male eating disorders

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

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    • Samantha_Escobar

      Amen.

    • Jen

      I actually dated a guy who was bulimic for a while. It was a long distance relationship, and his roommate told me about it. I was young and had no clue what to think about a guy with an eating disorder, let alone how to help. The relationship ended somewhat soon after that, though that was unrelated to me finding out about the bulimia.

    • Jesse Andreozzi

      Thanks for posting this. I’m a 20-year-old college student who always exercised and ate well. One day, for reasons I’m still trying to figure out, I took my healthy eating habits too far, became fixated on eating only “healthy foods” (orthorexia) and exercising excessively. I unintentionally lost 15 pounds over 4 months because of it. It developed into full-on anorexia. Right now, I’m 119 pounds working to get back up to my pre-disorder weight of 130. It’s a process, but I’m definitely getting there. There needs to be more support for guys with eating disorders, because there are certainly a great number of us.