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Issues for Men :: Cultural Roles :: The Media
Ballet Dancers :: In The Old Days
In the Old Days...

As far as society has come in the past few years there are still a lot of old fashioned ideas about Eating Disorders floating around.

Old-Fashioned Ideas

  • People with Eating Disorders are only "young, white and female".

    ANYONE can suffer from Anorexia or Bulimia. Regardless of previously held beliefs, it is not only young, middle-class white teenagers or college students who can suffer. African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or white, women or men, rich to poor, from their teen years well into their fifties, there are sufferers from every age-bracket, class and culture. Don't rely on the "written statistics" - they are based on reports made to government agencies and if a country, state, or province doesn't require that doctors report the cases, the statistics will not be accurate. Keep in mind as well, the more shame a sufferer feels, the less likely that they will come forward and say they have an Eating Disorder... so if we keep perpetuating the idea that only "young white women" suffer, less and less of them that don't fit this ideal will not come forward, be acknowledged, and get the help they deserve.

  • Every person suffering from an Eating Disorder is extremely underweight.

    Not True! There are a lot of Anorexic, Bulimic and Compulsive Overeaters suffering that are average weight or above. Nutrition levels, electrolyte imbalances and a plethora of other physical dangers are invisible and happening internally. Most importantly, the depression, low self-esteem and need to cope with stress have little to do with weight! Food and weight are a symptom for emotional conflicts. This false statement can be compared to something like "every alcoholic is always falling down drunk." The truth is MOST people suffering with Eating Disorders ARE NOT extremely underweight.

  • Eating Disorders are a vanity issue.

    Dieting is a vanity issue. Many Eating Disorders may start out as dieting, but the behavior turns quickly to a coping mechanism for dealing with stress, self-hate, hurt and shame. It is NOT a vanity issue. Obsessive weight concerns are a mask for emotions, an easier alternative than to deal with what is truly in the heart.

  • Compulsive Overeaters are lazy and have no will power.

    This is a sad false fact. People suffering with Compulsive Overeating use food as a way to fill a void they feel. Similar in a lot of ways to Anorexia and Bulimia, CO's have low self-esteem. They use food to cope with stress, to take away the pain, to comfort themselves. For some it is also a way to keep from being vulnerable... if they stay overweight, no one will want to get close to them (as society has taught them sadly enough) so their weight becomes a shield against closeness.

  • Doctors should know. If the doctor says there's nothing to worry about, then there isn't.

    Doctors do not know everything. Unfortunately, in most places, unless a doctor has taken additional courses in Eating Disorder training or has specialized in the field, they know very little about them. A great number of doctors are not aware of all the warning signs or will begin testing for other possible physical problems because of the stigma society has attached to Eating Disorders. A lot of times, doctors wait for the patient to say "hey doc, I have an Eating Disorder" and considering the low-self esteem and nature of the illness, more often than not this is unlikely to happen early on. Also, the human body learns to adapt to starvation and malnutrition, so unless blood tests are specifically geared towards Eating Disorders, average blood tests of a physical will show little detrimental information. I cannot stress enough how important it is to find a way to tell your doctor you have an Eating Disorder... and I will add if any doctor ever treats your poorly or ignores your plea for help, find another doctor!

  • I know someone with Anorexia.... if I just get him/her to eat it will solve the problem.
    I know someone with Bulimia... if I can keep him/her out of the bathroom it will solve the problem.
    I know someone who is a Compulsive Overeater.... a diet will fix everything.

    Concentrating on the Food is Mistake #1. All sufferers of any Eating Disorder are using a negative coping mechanism for dealing with unpleasant emotions. Buried deep down inside each person is a cause, or group of causes and pains they have yet to be healed from, that has pushed them to find an alternative unhealthy means of coping with life. Managing all areas of an Eating Disorder are key to recovery... stress, pain (past and present), learning to deal with emotions as well as learning to eat healthily. Learning to not use food as a coping mechanism for the underlying issues cannot be addressed until each sufferer begins to address the underlying issues.

  • An Eating Disorder is a woman's illness.

    Absolutely Not. Only recently has the media begun to address the "hidden population" of men with Eating Disorders. Many men suffer but because of the old wive's tale that Eating Disorders were just illnesses of woman, the men suffering have feared telling of their problems, or even facing it themselves. It is calculated that 1 in 10 Eating Disorders currently are men, and expected that the number is much higher.

These are just some of the fallacies put out to society by the media and the medical community. It is time to stop the ignorance. Eating Disorders and the people who suffer from them are valid and not to be taken lightly... People die from this and it is not our choice to live this way throughout our lives. You will very rarely find a long time Anorexic who recommends it to a friend, or a Bulimic who encourages their kids to follow in their footsteps. You won't find Compulsive Overeaters who say "everyone should cope this way!" Lots of us are extremely depressed, most of us have very low self-esteems, and all of us are at risk of death.


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