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Anorexia, A Woman’s Disease? Not Quite

You may have heard our story on Monday that more than one million men and boys across the nation are suffering with anorexia.  It’s always been thought of as a “female” disease. 

Male anorexia (Flickr: puuikibeach)
(Flickr: puuikibeach)

Because of the stigma attached to it, Vic Avon, a survivor from Brick Township, stayed sick much longer than he would have had he had access to information regarding men and boys with anorexia.

“If you look at the criteria for anorexia, the fourth one or so is that you miss your period,” said Avon.  “Naturally, when I went from 300 pounds to bones in a matter of months, I thought ‘I’m a freak, I’m broken and I’m screwed up.'”

“Everything was either written for a woman or about a woman or by a woman,” said Avon.  “There are two stigmas out there.  One is that it’s a girl’s disease and the other is that it’s a gay guy’s disease.  So, coming from a family with a father and four uncles who are big, tough construction workers, it wasn’t the easiest thing to admit that I had anorexia.  It was very, very tough.  It took a lot for me to finally take the power away from those feelings.”

“Because of the stigma, I stayed extra sick for extra long, nearly six years,” said Avon.  “I thought I was alone, I didn’t think any other guy out there was like me.”  It wasn’t until Avon was hospitalized and near death in 2008 that he realized, anorexia is not just a girl’s disease.  Anyone can suffer from it.  “I was in the hospital with four or five other guys and to this day, you can’t get any of them to mention it now.  They want to pretend that it doesn’t exist and they want to hide in the shadows and I understand that feeling.  But, it needs to change.”

Avon has made it his goal to become the face of anorexia for boys and men.  “I want to be that guy that I was looking for when I was suffering.  It’s been very hard to break that barrier.  But, hopefully, the more it’s talked about and linked to men, the sooner that stigma will change and people will be able to get the help they need.”



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