When it comes to girls and their weight, most of us consider this a pretty sensitive area. Even parents, (traditionally the custodians of Ego Management) are learning to tiptoe round their teenage daughters. In years gone by, the query ‘does my bum look big in this?’ would have provoked howls of derision and jokes about solar eclipses. Now however, even dads are on best behaviour.
‘Bum – what bum? You’re beautiful honey’. Well – at least on the sitcoms.
But I wonder if we’re quite so careful when it comes to the men. It seems like weight is a legitimate target for guys, even when it’s out-of-bounds for girls. Fat men are funny, right?
‘Who ate all the pies?’
Of course we don’t need to worry about male self-worth – after all, there’s no such thing. Science has proved beyond doubt that the male sensitivity gene has been replaced by pliers and a ringpull. Blokes don’t suffer from the same insecurities as women do. Body image stuff is for girls – all pink and fluffy and glittery. Men don’t pick at salads. They hunt down their dinner, chow down twice their body weight and drift off to sleep dreaming of power tools. Eating disorders in men? You’re having a laugh. Eating disorders are about slimming. Fitting into frocks and wanting to look like Cheryl Cole. Everybody knows that men aren’t judged on their appearances. And anyway, faddy eating has nothing to do with power and control and dealing with stress and identity and any other well, y’know, human stuff.
Over the last ten years, rates of eating disorders in men have risen sharply, whilst in women they have stayed the same. Last year, research from Harvard showed that a quarter of new anorexia and bulimia sufferers are male. NHS figures released earlier this year, show a 66 per cent increase in the number of male hospital admissions, in England alone. This is compounded by the fact that men find it even more difficult to seek help and are often underdiagnosed. The fact is, men get eating disorders too.