Manorexia: Teen Boys and Body Image

I wanted to write a brief post pointing out a disturbing trend that some are calling ‘manorexia’ which is a

term for young boys with eating disorders.  Why are boys self-starving?

1) The Need For Control

Many argue that anorexia, as a disease, is really about maintaining control in an uncontrollable environment.  Many teen boys especially are feeling controlled and pressured by their parents, schools and colleges more than ever.  Many teen boys I work with constantly tell me they are so tired of being told what to do, what is expected of them and having their parents try to control all aspects of their lives.  This might be their way of taking control back.

2) Emo is In

Unfortunately, the skinny-cocaine-haven’t slept in a long time is sort of in right now.  When once muscular jocks and toned bodies dominated the teen landscape in the Baywatch, Varsity Blues infested 90′s.  Skinny, boney boys is considered ‘hot’ right now and is portrayed positively in TV shows and movies.  A few weeks ago on the new 90210, the main star said “I didn’t like him, he was so big and so Kansas, but I like Ty, he is different, so skinny and Beverly Hills.”–talk about pressure.

3) Social Pressure

I think teen boys have two basic pubescent desires: girls and junk food.  Yet, when girls are constantly talking about being thin and how much they like the thin boys on TV shows, boys can give up one desire to quench the other.

4) The Need to Be Perfect

Many girls speak about being anorexic as the need to be perfect–eating, fat and calories seem messy, sloppy and wrong.  Boys are also expressing this concern.  They want to succeed and please those around them and this can come down to counting calories, over exercising, not eating and serious portion control.

Many parents will read this and laugh that they see their son eat all the time or that bulimia does not affect boys.  Even if you think your son is would not have any idea about teen boys and eating disorders, you never know who they might know who might be struggling with this.  I recommend bringing this trend up and seeing what they say.  Are the shocked? Confused? Grossed-out? Be a parental sounding board and keep the communication lines open.

If you liked this article get more Radical Parenting in our new book: Do I Get My Allowance Before or After I’m Grounded?

  • http://www.celisedowns.com/blog Celise

    I never thought about this. Anorexia seems like such a female disease, I never thought that males would feel the same way. Personally, I find it hard to hug a skeleton, but, well, that’s just my opinion.

  • Pingback: Are Teen Boys Starving to Death? | Teen Checkup | Internet Safety

  • muslima nomair

    hello i am doing a research paper.I go to el camino real highschool in california. and i need to interview a person who went through anorexia or knows someone who did.can u plz answer these questions asap.i need your full name.gender,and age.
    1.how did you feel when you found out?
    2.how did your family and friends feel?
    3.how did it happen?stress or diet plz explain
    4.how are you know?
    5.any family and friends also have anorexia?
    thankyou for your time and if you could plz answer by next week or sooner thankyou…:)