Guys Get Eating Disorders Too

The first time I stuck my fingers down my throat and vomited up my meal was in 1980. I was a freshman at Penn State University. The emotional release and feeling of control it gave me over my body was intoxicating. It was the worst and at the same time the best I had ever felt about myself for a short burst of time. The knowledge that a simple physical act of purging my food, could change how I felt about myself and how I saw myself in the mirror was intoxicating. I had to have that feeling over and over if only for that brief moment. I had no idea that I had begun a descent into bulimia that would stay with me for the next twenty-six years. In 1980, I had no idea Bulimia was a word much less an eating disorder. The angel voiced songstress, Karen Carpenter had not yet pushed eating disorders into the national spotlight when in, 1983, she died of heart failure related to her anorexia at 32 years old, her death began a national conversation about eating disorders. But in many ways, she also helped establish stereotypes about eating disorders are something suffered exclusively by young women. I can assure you they are not. I am living proof. An estimated 10-15% percent or more of those suffering from anorexia or bulimia are men. Many men have and are going through what I went through and like women, some recover, some continue to struggle and some die. Eating disorders touch every demographic.

This however was not yet 1983. No one I knew talked about such things. There was no Internet to read about it. After the high of the purge quickly wore off and deep depression sank in, I was too ashamed to tell anyone including my family about it. It soon became a part of my life like breathing. Just something I did integrated into my daily routine.

My extreme eating behaviors seemed like perfectly natural acts born of childhood bullying over my weight and a distorted image I saw every time I looked in the mirror (I always saw a grotesquely fat body no matter how much weight I lost) and the desire to be accepted. To be the hip, in shape, skinny kids who seemed so popular too me. It was as natural as the anorexic behavior I had previously been engaging in limiting my food intake to about five hundred calories a day. Every purge and wretch over the toilet made me feel like I could face the world but no matter how much I starved my self or how many times I puked up my meals the mirror image never changed. As a man, the stigma associated with speaking out or seeking help was too much for me to bear. Men do not throw up their meals. Men do not starve themselves. Those are "female problems".

It's time to bring male eating disorders into the 21st century. Men need to put an end to this stigma and create a voice to let the world know that we also are affected by these potentially deadly issues. We too can feel shame of our bodies. We too can be affected by the internet driven, hot bod, image explosion that tells us we simply don't measure up to these perfect airbrushed images. There is no shame in speaking up. There is only recovery. Lets start now.

About the Author
Brian Cuban is a lawyer and activist specializing in 1st Amendment issues and hate speech. Based in Dallas, Texas, he is also the segment host for "Brian Cuban's Legal Briefs" on EyeOpenerTV, and founder of his blog, The Cuban Revolution. His brother is businessman and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. A passionate advocate against child and teen bullying, Brian has lectured on the topic in major media outlets and conferences around the world. His memoir, "Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder" will be released on August 8th. For more information, visit