A National Eating Disorders Association poll revealed that as many as 11 million youth are fighting an eating disorder in the United States. Although these diseases are often associated with women, this is not exclusively a gender-specific problem. About 1 million men are reported to struggle with the same problems. And because of the secretiveness and shame associated with these disorders, the actual figures may be substantially greater.
Although the issue is complex and may differ for each person, I believe that the reasons for male anorexia are similar to reasons for female anorexia. The root of the issue is normally centered around some personal insecurity or environmental pressure that pushes an individual to strive for an unobtainable perfection. There is an entire industry dedicated to cultivating this idea of perfection within individuals' minds.
Our multimedia culture sends subliminal messages that emphasize the importance of physical appearance. Advertisers take advantage of a person's self-doubts and manipulate them to sell fat-burning and muscle-building products. They perpetuate that idea that a person's happiness is directly related to a person's figure. Gyms deceptively promote themselves by showcasing fit models and athletes that have each had their own individual success stories. But the impression that it leaves on individuals can have grave consequences.
In sports, for example, athletes will often push themselves to extremes. The pressure to live up to expectations and the pressure to perform at their peak level can be incredibly daunting for men. This is a common issue amongst wrestlers, who starve themselves to be in a lower weight class. Not only do these athletes face injurious health risks, but the public influence that they possess may encourage others to follow in their example. Thus, the athlete's unhealthy decisions could adversely affect others' in the process.
It is not unreasonable to see why men and women may be pressured into believing that anorexia is the answer. In our day and age, it is now not enough to be one's best, but to be the best. This mentality to excessively diet and exercise is created from our culture's promotion of the false idea of a paragon model. Men are generally less concerned about social benefits than women. They suffer from eating disorders to enhance their athletic performance. But eating disorders are never the solution to any problem. They can lead to serious health risks like malnutrition, major organ damage, heart failures and death. Simply put, there is nothing that should compel an individual to be put in a situation where their well-being is compromised.