The Continued Stereotyping Of Eating Disorders

brian_cuban.ashxI am used to eating disorder stereotypes in the general public  I expect it. That is the way society has evolved since the tragic passing of songstress Karen Carpenter from complications related to anorexia.  She brought anorexia into the national spotlight but also cemented the stereotype of it as a “women’s disorder”.  Of course the “male stereotype” long pre-dated that.  Dating back to the beginnings of our country. Men are the strong ones. Men are the leaders. Men don’t show weakness. Men certainly don’t starve themselves or throw-up their meals.

While gender-roles have equalized drastically in the last two hundred plus years with a reduction in stereotypes in many areas, the gender role stigma associated with eating disorders has not kept up.  They are still viewed by the general public and media as a predominantly “female disorder”.  While females certainly are in the majority, males are fast catching up.  According to the NEDA,  ten million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating  disorder at some point in their lives. Estimates of up to 20 percent of those with eating disorders are male. With Binge Eating Disorder on the rise and the reluctance of males to step forward because of the stigma and stereotypes, those numbers may be significantly higher.

It therefore distresses me when I see someone with a “cloak of credibility”  pander to the very heart of these stereotypes, as Bruce Bower did in his blog entitled: “Male Version Of Eating Disorders Replacing Purging With Muscle Enhancers

Let’s start with the title.  There is no “male version of eating disorders”  Males suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorders etc just like women do.  Stereotype number one.

Move on down the blog a bit.  “Purging and other eating disorders occur mainly in girls and women”  I have no idea what “mainly” means but it certainly gives the impression that it is a “woman’s disorder”  Total B.S.  Stereotype number two.

Lets move on to the entire premise of the blog. From my reading of the study,  it does not seem to have anything to do with whether boys are using muscle enhancers INSTEAD of engaging in eating disorder behavior.   He plays right into the stereotype as the title indicates, that eating disorders are a choice.  Stereotype number three.

Lastly, although it does not seem toe be specifically addressed in the study, he appears to be describing muscle dysmorphia which is NOT an eating disorder. It is a subset of body dysmorphic disorder.

There is so much wrong with this blog that I commented, pointing out the stereotyping issues. My comment was deleted.  I guess Bruce does not like criticism. That made me curious. Who is Bruce Bower?  His bio states:

Bruce Bower has written about the behavioral sciences since 1984. He often writes about psychology, anthropology, archaeology and mental health issues. Bruce has a master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Following an internship at Science News in 1981, he worked as a reporter at Psychiatric News, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association, until joining Science News as a staff writer. In 1996, the American Psychological Association appointed Bruce a Science Writer Fellow, with a grant to visit psychological scientists of his own choosing. Early stints as an aide in a day school for children and teenagers with severe psychological problems and as a counselor in a drug diversion center provided Bruce with a surprisingly good background for a career in science journalism.”

I see nothing that indicates he treats people with eating disorders, muscle dysmorphia,  or academically researches either on any level.

I have some advice Bruce. Stick to whatever your good at.  It’s not this and you are hurting people.  You are pandering to the very stereotypes that causes many with eating disorders to suffer in silence. Stop it!

Brian Cuban is a an author whose Amazon best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD). Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and breaking the male eating disorder stigma. Has has spoken at prestigious locations such as the University of North Carolina Center For Eating Disorder Excellence.

***(11/6/13)  Mr Bower or whoever moderates has seen fit to put my comment back up. Here is the screenshot in case it disappears ago.

Screen Shot 2013-11-06 at 7.43.56 AM



One Response

  1. My names Jose Valentin im 23 and two weeks ago I was recently diagnosed with bulimia. Ive been bulimic since 16 after 15 years of being obese. I for some odd resulted to bingeing nthinking it was a way of helping me loose weight and I did. Now I struggle with being able to look at myself no more than 20 times in the mirror and internally feel somuch discomfort. Iv tried an enormous amount of times trying to tell my parents but they’re beliefs were that id get better and just need to stop. Its hard. Im glad people are starting to talk more about eating disorders. .. its pretty scary… I still haven’t been able to get the help I need9 years later but im determined to seek the help I need now so im moving to finally try to cure this physical and mental disorder.

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