'Gendered ED'?

Most people, when thinking or hearing about ED, think of a thin, pale-looking girl who starves herself.

But research is showing that more and more males are presenting with ED. This caught my attention for so many reasons.

First, it shows that ED is on the rise. EDs are common all over the world - not just in places like Canada, USA, or Europe. They are present in Africa, Australia, etc. So, it is not an illness of the 'westernized' areas. It happens to anyone, of any culture. This is a problem that we need to address - if ED is becoming more prevalent, we need to find ways to educate people about ED 'prevention' or what to watch out for. We need to educate people about what to do if you suspect someone has an eating disorder, the types of treatment available, and the urgency that must be given to this problem.

Second - and what is really the issue - is that ED happens in boys, too. We do not really think of this, but it is sadly the truth. We may not think that boys are affected because we do not often think of males trying to lose weight to please others or what not. But, males are the target of body image commericials as well. They are constantly showed as having big muscles, no fat, and being built. This clearly affects males of all ages because they feel that they need to live up to this ideal.

And males are also shown as not showing any of their feelings. Males, in today's society, are not encouarged to share what they are going through. So, a boy who does not call himself 'fat' in front of his friends is not doing anything weird - he is being a 'guy'. But inside, this guy might hate his body. He may be starving himself to become thin. He may wish that he was like all the other guys with muscles. This may very well be ED in progress.

What is more, we often stereotype that ED targets females ONLY. While it is more COMMON in females, it does not mean that it cannot affect males. And studies are showing us that this is actually the case - 1 in 3 cases of EDs will now be in males. This is scary. It means that males are shwoing more signs and symptoms of ED. And the problem is, they are not finding the help and support they need to overcome this. People may not label a male as having ED because they think he is just 'being a guy' or because ED is a 'girl thing'. This poor man or boy might struggle with ED for so long before anyone finds out. Or it might be too late.

We need to start looking at ED as an illness. That is all. It is an disease, like any other, that affects ALL people - male and female. As a result, we need to get past the fact that males cannot present with ED. It is this idea that stops males from getting the help they need. We need to realize that these ideas can prohibit males from getting the help they need and recovering.

And to those males who have ED, we need to stop the stigma. A male who has ED is no less of a 'man' because he has ED. He is a victim, like everyone else. so he deserves to be treated with care, to get help, and to defeat ED.

It is time that we break down the stigma against people with ED. Whether male or female, ED is a life-threatening illness. It needs to be addressed, and the patient needs to get help. I hope as time goes on, we will all start to realize that society influences our ideas about many things, ED being one of them. 'Men don't get ED' is a false, false statement. They may get it LESS often than females, but the rates are climbing. This is a cause of concern. I pray that we can get our acts together and start helping ALL victims with ED. Because no matter who has ED, it is an illness.

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