Male eating disorders, to most, seem almost like oxymorons. But this stereotype dismisses eating disorders to the backwater of "women's problems," a problematic view that not only damages society's view of mental illness among women, but also further intertwines men with mental illness as somehow "less masculine" or "feminine," trivializing their experience. Teenage eating disorders affect both sexes and all genders, with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) noting "that eating disorders in males are clinically similar to, if not indistinguishable from, eating disorders in females." The perception that males do not suffer from mental illness, and specifically eating disorders, further damages the self image of straight males seeking society's approval of masculinity, as well as gay and trans males who may feel pressured to fulfill some role in their identity.
According the the NEDA, 10 percent of mental disorder patients seeking treatment are male. This research has also revealed that among high school students, 38 percent of females and 24 percent of males were "trying to lose weight." The permeating effects of the media's ideals of body type have put unique pressures on young people. Although women have traditionally been the center of body-image pressure and policing, that does not mean that young men do not feel pressure when it comes to their bodies too. Distinguishing these differences is paramount. While women are commanded to be thin yet curvy to demonstrate femininity, men are commanded to be muscular, fit and tall to demonstrate masculinity.
The relationship between this damaging ideal body image and sexuality seems to be more accepted in women, and although still arduous, females tend to seek help more easily than males do. In a vicious cycle, young males who have castigated themselves into these eating disorders in order to achieve a specific sexual presentation are then layered with another in the feminization of eating disorders. Among the 33 percent of men who practice unhealthy weight control eating disorder behaviors, an estimated 42 percent are homosexual.
Dr. Pauline Powers of Fairwinds Treatment Center is highly respected and nationally renowned for expertise in treatment for anorexia, treatment for bulimia, having helped make Fairwinds one of the top eating disorder centers in Florida. Unique to most other residential treatment centers, Fairwinds also specializes in male eating disorders, teenage eating disorders, and gender identity.
Founded 25 years ago by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, the professionals at Fairwinds Treatment Center utilize a unique a dual diagnosis approach that combines therapeutic counseling and clinical treatment to address and resolve the underlying psychological triggers behind addiction.
Fairwinds' therapeutic approach heavily advocates the involvement of family. Parents and/or siblings who can accompany their child/sibling gain an understanding of their loved one's disease; in addition, persons whose families are involved in their recovery are more likely to reject past unhealthy behaviors. Young adult males, who are affected the most amongst male eating disorders may want to be accompanied by spouses or parents as well.