Women are not the only group that fall prey to this illness, however cases involving women get the greatest publicity. Some of the nodes I've read here dealing the subject of anorexia describe it as an individual starving themselves from a silly/irrational fear of being overweight. I am a male, I suffer from this disease every day of my life, and it is not because I am irrational, silly or depressed. It is because of my upbringing, and the way society classifies and ridicules its overweight population that I suffer from this. I will explain to you why.

People of average weight do not understand what it is like to be overweight, plump, fat, chubby, or whatever name people use to ridicule someone. I was overweight from the time I was seven years old until the time I was about twenty one. It was because of chronic overeating, however because my mother was also a chronic overeater and I was not taught how to eat responsibly. It was easy to eat as much as I wanted to, whenever I wanted to. So guess what? Fat in elementary school, fat in junior high school, fat in high school.

Being the fat kid for basically half your childhood and all of puberty can really shape your view of the world. I won't go into how absolutely degrading and dehumanizing the constant teasing and ridicule can be for someone, there are plenty of other nodes here on e2 dealing with that. I will say however that this constant torment shaped my self image into one of revulsion, disgust and horror. Having only a handful of what you would call real friends during these years did not help me to gain a better self image, and show how I could go about eating better and taking care of myself. In high school, when everyone was thinking about guyss and girls, I didn't have some magical switch that made my desire for the opposite sex go away. I acted on my interests in women and they quite readily voiced their revulsion to my appearance.

I will admit that as an undergraduate in college, I noticed people lose a lot of their clique-ish behavior and become more level-headed. I gained a group of very close, genuinely honest friends that I keep to this day. These people didn't care about my weight or how much I ate and accepted me as I was, though a lot of people still referred to me as that "fat guy" and the coeds didn't give me the time. I had a very buff roommate and it was like I didn't exist to women when he was around. After a couple years of college, I stopped trying to find dates (I might have had one or two) and put that energy into classes. My self image continued to go further downward.

Around my junior year I was about fifty pounds overweight. It was about this time that my four close friends had found relatively steady relationships and started having weekly get togethers for dinner and drinking. I regularly attended but quickly felt like the outcast being the lone man at the shootout. John started telling us stories about how awesome the sex was with Susan, and Will about how Michelle and he were at it five times a day. I was first in my class in engineering but I hadn't laid hands on a girl in two years. They started feeding me lines like "oh, your time is coming" or "you've got to try harder to meet people." Sure, ok. I'd had enough. Angela, a friend I was really interested in, let me brush her hair, but fucked one of my best friends instead. Angelique came over for dinner, and then got married to someone else. The list just goes on.

Sometime around the first week of January, 1996, my hatred of the word "fat" grew to the point that I decided that I would do whatever was in my power to move as far away from that label as possible. So, for the next ten months or so, I basically starved myself to death. Having absolutely no idea how to eat right, I ate a small bowl of cereal in the morning, maybe a bowl of soup and toast in the evening, and water and diet soda in between. And for the first time in my life, I was in control of this "problem." No one would ever be able to hold being "fat" over my head again. I started running then, about four miles a day. Not easy to do on 500-800 calories a day. But I did it anyway. I passed out many times walking to class. My sex drive went away, but I hadn't been laid in four years so I didn't care. After I lost about fifty pounds my friends said that I was a totally different person and that I looked amazing. If I had possessed a decent self image I probably could have stopped losing weight right htne. But it didn't matter anymore. Angelique came by one afternoon to return some music. Her sister was with her when she handed it back. Her sister said, "I thought you borrowed those from the fat guy." Yep, she sure did.

When I was down to about 150 pounds my friends and my family told me it was time to start eating again, but I had it in my mind that any piece of food would cause me to balloon again so I told them to fuck off. My dad and mother threatened to hospitalize me. People started ridiculing me again because I was too thin! It didn't matter though, because I wasn't fat anymore, and I was in control of my weight.

It was when I went to graduate school that I gained control of my life, but it took a while. Being isolated from a lot of people helped a lot, as I was no longer afraid of being ridiculed by anyone. I had easy access to the internet and was able to read about eating disorders, stories from other people that suffered from them (mostly women of course, but I could empathize), and I was able to learn about how to eat responsibly. I gained about twenty five pounds over the next year or so. I met and fell in love with a girl on the second floor of the graduate dorm. This one actually loves me back.

In the five years since then I joined the local gym and started gaining back all the muscle that I lost. This has been doubly hard to do because the fear of "fat" has never gone away. I have to sit on it at all times, put it in the back of my mind and remind myself that I am in control of my weight. Gaining muscle requires you to eat, and eat a lot, and it has been a very hard road forcing myself to eat what I know I have to. The unfounded guilt is still there. Sometimes I have the desire some mornings to not eat that day. But I have control of my disease.

However, the damaged self image remains. After years of seeing myself as less of a person because of the insecurities of other people, I have learned how to handle those feelings. I imagine that most other people that suffer from anorexia may also fight their self image on a daily basis. Counseling has also helped deal with some of this self hatred, but it is still there. Having to pay $100 an hour out of my pocket to fix damage these other people caused is insult to injury.