Binge eating, emotional eating, eating disorders. I’m sure we’re all expectant that women suffer from this more than men. But the world is changing. The shape of man is not necessarily man-shaped. The look of man is not necessarily man-shaped. Man/male/guy/heterosexual/lad/gay. What’s biological? What’s socially constructed? Is there a crisis of masculinity? Edward Norton and Brad Pitt’s David Fincher directed Chuck Palahniuk story Fight Club was zeitgeist defining: what does it mean to be a man. “Is that what a man looks like?” Questions the only-when-standing-next-to-Brad-Pitt ordinary looking Edward Norton, next to one of the most beautiful men who ever lived.
Walk through any two streets in any average British city and you’ll get any number of different reactions. I’ve been started on for trying to help people. I’ve been looked at as a thug when mistakenly ‘toughening’ myself up whilst feeling threatened. I’ve been shoulder barged, glared at and insulted in the past: when I was slim; when I had long hair; when I was wearing a piece of clothing that made me stand out. The truth is that now, with a XL chest or with my grade 1 shaved head I had no real problems, people didn’t try and mess with me.
It’s tough being a woman, especially a hot one. “If she didn’t want attention she shouldn’t have dressed like that”. But it’s also really tough being a man. Modern life is structured to benefit those who are sociopathic enough to care only about themselves. It’s simply too tiring for troubled people. It’s totally natural that mental health trouble would flourish. It’s totally natural that in the days of Dwayne Johnson taking what “man shaped” is to absurdity (he wasn’t exactly small when he was The Rock) that the “Bane” body is perceived as a genuine target. And when a man comes out as suffering with this, what happens? Well, in the case of Mail columnist Richard “stupid cunt” Littlejohn responding to John Prescott’s expression of his eating disorder, you publish your ridicule of the guy to over a million people. But for the gender of the species who are expected to be strong and in control a collapse of self-esteem does crazy things.
But for a lot of men, emotional eating and self-loathing are a lifelong struggle. I know, I’m one of them.