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Eating disorders are highly gendered, stigmatized, and stereotyped. Specifically, eating disorders are characterized to be a primarily female problem. As it might be more casually stated, “Eating disorders are for girls.” However, this isn’t true. Stereotyping and stigmatizing any mental health disorder, like an eating disorder, is dangerous to the many different people

who experience a mental health disorder. Thinking that a mental health disorder only happens to some people means thinking that it shouldn’t happen to other people. Moreover, this kind of thinking is shame based. Mental health disorders of all kinds are faced with shame. Shame can get in the way of someone speaking out about their struggles, sharing their feelings, and most importantly, asking for the help they desperately need. For millions of men around the world who are struggling with eating disorders, the shame and stereotype that eating disorders only happen to women, is damaging. Worse, it can prevent them from seeking the help they need to overcome their eating disorders and find a healthy way to live.

According to a study reported by Medscape, “women were almost five times more likely than men to be diagnosed with EDs.” Researchers used data from the Healthy Bodies Study which looked at the information of college students around the country. Of the thousands of participants, over 1700 of them met the criteria to be diagnosed with an eating disorder. Of those 1700 students, 2.0% could be classified as underweight and 84.9% were women. Women were more likely to be perceived as needing treatment than men were, the study found, and of all the individuals needing treatment for an eating disorder, only about a third ever receive any.


Being underweight and a woman or only two components of the damaging stereotype which prevents men from being treated for EDs. SWAG stands for “skinny, white, affluent girls” and is a pervasive stereotype. As the study’s findings revealed, individuals who met some of this stereotype were more likely to be diagnosed and receive any treatment for an eating disorder. More shockingly, these kinds of individuals were more likely to be perceived as needing treatment. Meaning, that even diagnosing professionals are in someway swayed by the stigma of eating disorders being a female problem.

Reach out for help

Eating disorders are often a manifestation of trauma. Trauma shakes who we are to the core of our being, affecting the way our nervous system operates and the way our brain operates, which can greatly change the way our behaviors operate. Food, eating, weight perception, obsession, self-punishment, perfectionism- all of the behaviors associated with eating disorders can be responses to trauma. If you are a male struggling with an eating disorder, you deserve to be seen, treated, and healed.

Everyone has a story of trauma before they come treatment. Everyone leaves with a story of recovery when they leave treatment. The Guest House Ocala is a private treatment center specializing in the treatment of trauma, addictions, and related mental health issues. Your program of care is customized according to your specific experiences and needs. Our luxury amenities provide the highest level of quality care and comfort so you feel safe, supported, and serene. Call us today for information: 1-855-483-7800