Male Eating Disorders and Body Dysmorphia

It was his turn to look after his toddler son. And it was morning, time to soak his skin thoroughly in hot water in the shower, so he would be very smooth-shaven when he shaves. His son was crying. He could hear it but was not listening. The voice of self-criticism was louder. It said to make sure there was not a hair out of place, not a bump of skin. He was frantic, a morning ritual normal for him.

His son cried louder. His nappy was soaked through. He missed his potty time so had to wet his nappy. The crying made him lose control of his bladder again, and now he was soaked through. He was so upset, he could not walk. He crawled to the bathroom where Daddy was. Daddy played a game with him to take away the crying.

The game was going on the scales. John (a fictional character), was due to weigh himself. Another morning “normal” ritual. And evening ritual, all normal, of course. It never occurs to him that there is anything wrong with this obsession. It is normal to look your best and be “healthy”. He needs to weigh himself twice a day, in case his weight approached an “unhealthy” level. He has just under 10% body fat, normal, he considers, for body-building athletes.

Only John is not an athlete. He works in an office and works out in the gym 1 hour a day, five days a week. It is too tiring to do more, but that too, is considered normal, as he does intense workouts, helped by his “healthy” shakes.

The same shakes his doctor recommended he stops. The same shakes the dietician his doctor recommended told him to stop, at least for a while. the same shakes the allergy consultant told him were a contributor to his allergies. The same shakes the alternative health practitioner said were affecting his health. Of course, they are all wrong; interfering busy-bodies.

He is pleased with himself. As his son plays the weighing game with him, the crying stops. And, he is 100g leaner. So, eating food with no fat is perfect. He is so happy with his new diet; two shakes morning and night, a low-fat sandwich so his colleagues can see him eat at lunchtime, and meat cooked so well on a rack, that it oozes all of its fat. He is delighted. The new diet is working.

Smiling happily at his son, his son responds with a smile. Daddy notices him.

At this point, his ex-wife rings the doorbell. She collects their son after the overnight visit, changes his nappy and feeds him in the car.

John is glad she is out of the way. He can now go to the gym and forget what she did to him. Like all women, she was a demanding useless thing who left him. And she was fat, too. That stupid doctor refused to send her to the dietician for her weight. The doctor had the wrong equipment. He could not see how fat she was; disgusting.

His mother is always thin, a true beauty. He had a happy childhood, always being taught not to let his feelings show, being encouraged to be the strongest, thinnest, most muscular man in high school. His mother is the best. That counsellor he saw lied and told him he had a bad childhood. Another stupid useless person. His parents loved him very much. They sent him to the top schools, bought him the latest toys, gadgets, phone, and computer. They were a happy family.

He gets dressed and goes to the gym. He gets back home to shower. He never showers in the gym. He weighs himself just one more time, then dresses to go and see his parents. Happy times ahead.