When you think of an eating disorder, you might imagine a frail sickly teenage female struggling with anorexia or a woman secretly binging on donuts in her car on the way home. However, these are stereotypes that limit our understanding and encourage us to only notice the most obvious cases.
A talented college football player has opened up about his own struggle with binge eating disorder and depression. Joey Julius plays football for Penn State; he is a kicker, very beloved by fans. Fans relate to his average height and love his “teddy bear” appeal (he is “only” 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 258 pounds).
It’s hard to imagine that a successful athlete with a bright future struggles with an eating disorder, depression and anxiety, but the pressure college athletes face is enormous. Also, because of his unique look and signature size, he deals with additional stressors. People look at his body; they talk about it. His body is on the radar.
Julius explains that he demonstrates symptoms of bulimia with a habit of purging on the field, but he feels certain that binge eating disorder is his true diagnosis. He says, “Team physicians started to notice not only a change in my overall happiness but also my performance as a normal human being,” Julius wrote in a Facebook post on Monday. “Throughout this whole process I learned a lot about myself. I learned that for the last 11 years of my life I have suffered through a disorder known as binge eating disorder” (USA Today Sports).
This young man has offered a new and important message for us. Men, even the most athletic, are just as susceptible to developing an eating disorder as women. Unfortunately, men binge drinking and binge eating is somewhat accepted by our society, making it even more challenging to seek help.
Julius’ courage to openly discuss his struggle is so important for all of us. He has opened a window for the many other men suffering from an eating disorder, demonstrating that getting help is nothing to be ashamed of.
A stereotype as defined by Merriam-Webster is “an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.” Colloquially, the term, stereotype, “is used to categorize a group of people. People don’t understand that type of person, so they put them into classifications, thinking that everyone who […]
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