Roughly a quarter of people with eating disorders are men, but real stigma prevents many from getting help, author Brian Cuban told the Free Press News Café this afternoon.
"Society has developed that men are leaders, men are the wage earners, men talk football, men don’t binge and purge. That’s what women do," said Cuban. "I wanted to let other guys know there’s no shame. It’s OK to talk about these things. It helped me."
Cuban is a Dallas-based lawyer, pundit and the brother of the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. At his lowest during a 27-year battle with eating disorders, he described himself as an obnoxious, drug-using, club-hopping jerk.
Now, thanks to a new book called Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Cuban has lifted the veil on the little-known problem of male eating disorders like the one at the core of Cuban’s nearly two decades of destructive behavior.
Cuban joined Emily Doer, an advocate for the Health Sciences Centre’s adult eating disorders program, for an interactive discussion today at the News Café.
Doer told the crowd that her troubles began in high school, when, already struggling with body image, she gave up sports and gained weight.
"I lost the weight, healthily at first, but I kind of became obsessed with losing weight," she said. "Then I really started to amount my self-worth with how much weight I was losing. If I could just lose two more pounds this week, I’ll for sure be happy. What you start to realize is the problem is deeper than pounds and numbers."
Cuban’s struggle was sparked by childhood bullying but became a full-blown eating disorder when he entered university. What started as starvation dieting and an obsession with running became bulimia, a way to cope with shyness and self-doubt.
"When you’re 18-years-old in a college town, seeing a roommate puke simply does not set off any alarms," wrote Cuban. "And even if my roommates had thought something was odd, no one at that time would ever suspect a young man might have a dangerous eating disorder."
As an adult, what he later learned was body dysmorphic disorder, was at the root of drug and alcohol addiction, failed marriages and an irrational obsession with his body.
Cuban’s book has made him one of the few voices speaking publicly about a problem the National Eating Disorders Association says will affect an estimated ten million men in the United States at some point in their lifetime.
"I empathize with any young man being too ashamed and embarrassed to seek treatment for bulimia or anorexia. Even today, there isn’t much of a national conversation about men and BDD," wrote Cuban.
Cuban is also the keynote speaker at Tea for E/D, a sold-out fundraising event for the HSC’s clinic. Tea for E/D takes place Sunday.