Eating disorders are not just a woman’s issue


Washington Post Service

For 27 years, Brian Cuban struggled in silence.

“When I first began to starve myself in 1979, eating-disorder awareness didn’t really exist,” Cuban writes in the online magazine “It was certainly not what boys and men did. At least, I didn’t think so. I had been taught that men strive to be leaders. Men love sports. Men go on dates with pretty girls.”

He didn’t know then, he writes, that his behaviors — avoiding food, forcing himself to vomit — “were psychological disorders. They were simply acts I engaged in, much like breathing.”

At 44, he attempted suicide.

Now 53, Cuban, brother of billionaire investor Mark Cuban, is a lawyer, a television host and an activist on behalf of men with eating disorders.

“Depending on which statistics you look at, up to 25 percent of those suffering from eating disorders are male. Still, media coverage and portrayals of eating disorders today are still entrenched in the stereotype of these being ‘women’s illnesses,’ ” he writes.

Cuban, whose memoir, Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, was published this summer, hopes that more men with eating disorders will seek help — from their families, professionals and organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association — and reach out to others like them, particularly online, where he found a supportive community. (Cuban came forward about his illness on his blog before telling his family.)

“This is true eating disorder awareness: stories shared by people who have been there and want to help,” he writes. “When ready, add your voice. And remember: There is no shame.”

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