When most people hear the term eating disorder, they will likely think about teenage girls with anorexia or bulimia. Though females are more likely to turn to disordered eating, 10 million males in the US will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their life.
Media’s impact on eating disorders
While teenage girls are faced with media’s association with beauty and being thin, teenage boys receive the message that the ideal man is both lean and muscular. Similar to the perfected models in female magazines, men’s magazines show photoshopped images of extremely muscular, toned models. To achieve the ideal body, males often turn to body-enhancing supplements and excessive exercising in conjunction with disordered eating habits, such as bulimia and extreme limiting of calories.
Images of the perfect male physique are inescapable and many men will stop at nothing to replicate what they see. Some develop an unhealthy obsession with exercise while dangerously restricting their caloric intake. – CBSnews.com
The idea to change your body to fit in or obtain achievements is further reinforced by actors and teen role models, as well. For the sake of his role in the 2004 movie “The Machinist,” Christian Bale lost 63 pounds in four months, close to four-pounds per week. In comparison, most experts agree a healthy weight loss is in between one and two pounds per week. Some sources reported he only ate an apple and a can of tuna, along with a salad and intense workout sessions, everyday to obtain the drastic results. Other actors, such as Matthew McConaughey in the 2013 movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” have also resulted to drastic dieting measures for the sake of a role.
Preventing help for troubled teens
Males are far less likely to seek treatment for eating disorders, due to the common misconception that an eating disorder is a woman’s illness. Because eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, it is crucial to break down the female stereotype of individuals with eating disorders and seek help for troubled teens.
In hopes of bringing awareness to male eating disorders, terms such as “manorexia” have become popular labels. Psychiatrist Dr. Ted Weltzin, from Rogers Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin, shared on Huffpost Live that these terms might be causing more harm than good. “[These terms] do not help people to really understand what is going on. We really need to get to a gender-neutral approach to eating disorders.”
Eating disorders are inclusive, not exclusive. Anybody can suffer from disordered eating, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or social background. Continuing to put gender labels on any mental illness is to continue stereotyping the individuals with the illness.
Unique treatments to provide help for troubled teens
In comparison, Dr. Weltzin believes there should be varied treatment when providing help for troubled teens with eating disorders. Where eating disorders do occur in both females and males, Weltzin sees different underlying issues when it comes to the two genders. Teen girls turn to disordered eating due to low self-esteem, high expectations and a fear of becoming overweight; teen boys often have been bullied due to their weight, are trying to achieve athletic goals and might have substance abuse issues.
Whether it is your son or daughter who is struggling with disordered eating, blueFire Wilderness Therapy can help. Our diverse team will help identify and implement a unique treatment plan based on your teen’s behaviors and needs.
To learn more about getting help for troubled teens struggling with eating disorders, call us today at 844-413-1999.