Manorexia and Me

08Feb08

Men and women are held to different standards in lots of different contexts. Some make sense (sports); some don’t (sport sex). Some I like, even if they don’t make sense (the paying of the check); some I wouldn’t like if Gloria Steinham herself endorsed them (the “Old Boys’ Club”). One area that confuses me, however, is manorexia. You all know manorexia — it was quite the rage back in 2006. Well, as droves of underweight male models flocked to the runways of Bryant Park, the New York Times resurrected the issue for an article entitled, “Vanishing Point.” The article, while making mention of “unhealthy body imagery and eating disorders,” nowhere sounded the anorexia/bulimia alarm. In fact, I’m not sure what purpose the article served, other than to reiterate the fact that ’skinny guys’ are trendy. This confuses me. Why the double standard?

When I disclose my weight loss goals to others, it often prompts worried glances and cautious words. I receive pity or empathetic encouragement. Let me begin by saying that I am extremely healthy, both physically and emotionally/psychologically (save for some intimacy/commitment issues that are beyond the scope of this post). I try to get to the gym at least every other day, primarily because I enjoy being active and I feel better about myself when my body is more taut than not. In addition, I love to eat and I eat often, although I do tend to eat healthy (oh, the SHAME!). Basically, what I’m telling you is that I DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER. While it is great that that society is concerned, at best, and voyeuristic, at worst, when it comes to my body image, I want the world to know that my desire to tone up does not indicate low self-esteem or deep psychological scarring. So why do I have to deal with needless judgment while hordes of man-shells, some of whom clearly have a problem, saunter around midtown sans the dime-store, societal psychoanalytics? I mean, we all do know about manorexia, don’t we? It’s just as serious, if slightly less common, than the female manifestation. No to mention …IT’S THE EXACT SAME DISEASE. Should I feel fortunate for this double standard, since it seems to indicate that society cares more about my weight than the respective weights of my male contemporaries? Should I feel vindicated (concerned? sympathetic?) now that the fashion industry is subjecting men to the same pressures that women have been forced to deal with for decades? Should I be insulted when people assume that I can’t handle the same pressures simply because I am female?

To answer my own question, I think that people just don’t know. Sure, we throw around the term, “manorexic,” but the problem is nowhere near as ubiquitous as female anorexia. Whether or not the failure of public outreach to men reflects a true lack of need for such outreach, I just don’t know. What I do know is that Matthew Perry is the only male celeb I can think of who has had quesitonable eating habits. Similarly, there haven’t been many images of sickly looking men splashed around the media (in fact, a Google search turned up only three pictures of anorexic men, none of which were so shocking). That being the ostensible state of affairs, I have two requests: 1) Stop teasing us, media moguls! If male anorexia is really a problem, let it be known. Don’t relegate a serious disease to the status of a pop-culture farce — instead, over-sensitize the general populace to it so that every time a man orders a salad instead of a steak, he will as harshly judged as I would be. And if it’s not a serious problem, stop wasting my time talking about (or, as in “Vanishing Point,” alluding to) it. 2) Understand that you have to cross a certain threshold to be anorexic. Then understand that a perfectly healthy female who wants to trim a couple of inches off her waist before her cruise to Mexico DOES NOT EVEN COME CLOSE to said threshold.

That should do it.

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One Response to “Manorexia and Me”


  1. 1 Nothing But Love for Gotham’s Singles « Queen Samantha’s Weblog

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