Body Like Beckham

Good news: people are waking up to the fact that eating disorders actually happen to males.

Bad news: news coverage is the same old drivel.

"Now men fall prey to anorexia as they seek a body like Beckham"

These stories seem to go in one of two directions.

1) How horrible! Now even men are worried about their appearance! The fashion industry has gone too far.

(As if an industry that makes women paranoid is bad, but tolerable. Men? What is this world coming to?)

2) Tsk, tsk. Those silly boys. Falling prey to the same illusions that women have.

(Congratulations! You, too, were stupid enough to buy a plane ticket to the Land of Obsession!)

Have rates of eating disorders in males been rising? We don't know. Have diagnoses increased because awareness has increased? Almost certainly. But that doesn't mean an actual increase in the number of cases. People can (and do) suffer in silence.

Are increasing emphases on "eating healthy" and looking "ripped" influencing things? Almost certainly. But it's not a cause. A trigger, maybe. But a cause? No.

The cultural experience of an eating disorder in a male is going to be different than in a female. How he understands his illness, how others understand his illness- these things are bound to be different.

But the biological core? Pretty much the same.

Did anyone else think that picture (I'm assuming it was of Beckham himself, but I wouldn't know) was vaguely lewd? Almost pornographic? There are plenty of other pictures of this guy. If your article is about how these images are harming people, why are you using an image that is harming people?

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Anonymous said...

My son has been "clinically" anorexic for 4 years now. Finding treatment for him has been a nightmare. There are no programs in place for males - at least not that don't involve hospitalization someplace across the continent from home. We have patchworked a team together and insurance only covers part of the social worker sessions.

His triggers were a compilation of circumstances: being dumped, the death of a close friend and the a**hole MD who told a 15 year old 180 lb 5'9" active child he needed to lose weight. Body sculpting was never an issue.

Trying to educate people who mean well but don't 'get it' is a recurring frustration. I'm thinking that the more it is seen as not just as a "female vanity" issue the better it will be for everyone who suffers. It seems to be that until it is a 'male disease' it gets marginalized. Look how long it took for medical professionals to realize women's biology was different from men's? We aren't men with extra plumbing!! Heart attacks have different symptoms, hormones affect medications. If attention is increased because now more men are identified as sufferers that means more research funding for everyone.

btw - You have been a blessing to me. He and I discuss your posts sometimes.

Ai Lu said...

Yes, that picture of Beckham looks like it's definitely heading towards soft gay porn! After doing some detective work on Google, I see that Beckham is the new face (ha! -- if that were all) of Armani men's underwear.

So go figure. This article is actually an ad for Armani. I mean, if they really wanted to make the point that David Beckham is very muscular, and that other men wished that they looked like him, I'm sure there are plenty of other shots that prove that point.

Carrie Arnold said...


Thank you for your kind words- and I hope you and your son can kick Ed's arse. :) Anorexia isn't a vanity issue for men OR women. Period. And I really wish people wouldn't look at them as such. Schizophrenia isn't "about" wanting to hear more voices; an eating disorder isn't "about" wanting to look thin (or buff) like a model.


Okay, I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought that. I cringed, actually.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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