manorexia353

The late Jeremy Gillitzer.

I met a guy the other day who didn't eat. Well, I guess he ate sometimes or else he'd never do poop and, as the saying goes - "you don't shit, you die".

And this bloke was very much alive, so I guess he did eat and poop - just not as much as you and me, and lemme tell ya, I can lay ... actually, no, we don't have to go there.

Anyway, this guy was quite angular and skinny - I guess the uncharitable description would be "weedy" - but he brushed off our group's general consternation about his eating habits and said he was just one of those people who didn't like food that much.

The guy's flat-mate was with him and he backed up this story; said the dude didn't seem to like food.

I thought this was weird. Everyone likes food. As The Onion put it so beautifully back in 2009: "These days it's hard to get people to agree on things. Some people like wearing shorts all the time, but other people think you always have to dress up nice.

"Some people like movies with cartoons in them, but other people only like watching real people. How do you find a middle ground? You don't. It's impossible. But, there's one thing I've found where I think we can all agree: food. People like food."

Well, not this guy.

Whatever ... who cares? ... is there a point here?

Alright.

So, yesterday I talked to a young woman who works at a kind of macro, vegan, organic, kosher cafe (awesome salads, by the way) and she said this not eating business was "a thing".

"I know so many guys who don't eat because they're going for that super-skinny, emaciated, waif-look that's so hot with young guys now," she said.

I'd just come from the gym.

I'd done push-ups, chin-ups and dips. I felt like I was wearing leg-warmers. I felt like a gay, Muslim, troll with a Nokia Lumia phone who's super into Nickleback.

"And they say they're not into food," she said.

I was kind of impressed. It's like the ultimate hipster pose: I'm not into the same music as you or movies or books or clothes or artists or video games. I'm not even into the same method of sustenance as you.

Anyway, she said it was called "manorexia" and the light went on for me.

In fact, it doesn't need another catchy name, it's exactly the same condition that women and girls suffer from - anorexia nervosa - and for a staggering glimpse of how it can hit guys, take a look at this video of former male model Jeremy Gillitzer, who died in 2010.

I then realised that my atttitude to this problem was probably instructive/destructive; it was one of those issues that had to fight twice as hard to be taken seriously - like female on male domestic violence.

Not only did the sufferer have to be detected, he then had to wade through the social stigma and denial that it was "only something that happens to girls".

Which is not to discount the size of the problem affecting females.

Roughly nine out ten anorexia suffers are women or girls, but back in 2009, the eating disorder support group, Butterfly Foundation, released stats revealing "one in four children with anorexia in Australia are boys and almost a third of year-nine boys use dangerous methods to try and keep thin", according to the ABC.

This gibes with a 2011 Mission Australia national survey of Australian youth that showed body image was one of the top three concerns for 43 per cent of girls and 22 per cent of boys. 

In that 2009 story, Butterfly Foundation chief executive Christine Morgan said "in the past ... boys have tended to go for that really fit look, the six-pack and the buff look.

"Now there's a bit of a shift towards more of the emaciated boy look and the thin look and they are starting to get into that 'let's go and try and be thinner and thinner and thinner'."

As I said above, this was surprising to me because, for a lot of my generation, it was always about building yourself up.

I can thus imagine this kind of behaviour wouldn't even be on the radar for the parents of a lot of boys; it wouldn't occur to them their son is starving himself.

Do you know of any young men who are going through this? Have they gotten help? What did they do?

As for the guy I met who said he "didn't eat" - I don't mean to suggest he had anorexia - but I used this story to show how left of field his declaration was for me - someone who's fairly aware of men's issues.

If a woman had said to me "I don't eat", I'd have immediately (and perhaps erroneously) assumed she had an eating disorder of some description.

With a bloke, I just thought it was kind of quirky, which in many ways makes the situation more dangerous.

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