Eating disorders do not just affect women - a point Instagram star Mina Gerges wants to make clear.
As Eating Disorder Awareness week progresses, Gerges, a 23-year-old Egyptian-Canadian blogger, addressed his own three-year battle with eating disorders and body image issues to his 145,000 followers - issues that can affect people of any gender.
Dedicating a series of honest posts to his struggles with body image, Gerges revealed the years he spent comparing his own body to those of photoshopped men on billboards - and how he “always wanted to look like them, thinking that was the only way I could be considered attractive.”
For Gerges, this pressure resulted in an eating disorder that meant he would starve himself, weigh himself every morning, spend three hours at the gym, and run 10km every day, and still hate himself, according to his Instagram.
“Especially as gay men, where unfortunately so many of us struggle with achieving that unrealistic standard to feel beautiful,” the Instagram star also told Teen Vogue: “Normative representations of met set up impossible standards, and imply that men who are entitled to being considered attractive and being seen by the public are white and thin.
“We don’t see men of different shapes and sizes, men who have stretch marks, rolls, or love handles on billboards or in fashion ads,” he continued.
This erasure led Gerges to develop body dysmorphic disorder.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, about one in three people struggling with an eating disorder is male - and “subclinical eating disordered behaviours, including binge-eating, purging, laxative abuse, and fasting for weight loss, are nearly as common among men as they are among women.”
However, men are significantly less likely to seek out treatment for disorders associated with body image - as they face a double-stigma “for having a disorder characterised as feminine or gay and for seeking psychological help,” according to the NEDA.
On Instagram, the 23-year-old, known for recreating his own interpretations of pictures of celebrities, also discussed his relationship with food, which he turned to for comfort - and how this behaviour and his subsequent weight-gain led to online bullying.
“Gaining this weight never made me hate my body, but the online bullying I experienced took a huge toll on me.
“People commented on my photos every day calling me fat and ugly, making fun of my stretch marks and love handles, commenting things like ‘wow you used to be hot, what happened to you?’ as if I wasn’t a real person who was impacted by these cruel words,” he wrote.
But now, at 23-years-old, after years of editing his photos and “smoothing out the imperfections,” Gerges is “finally confident and comfortable” in his skin.
By learning self-love, the Instagram star has realised: “I’ll never look like the dudes we see in billboards and fashion ads, and that’s okay because I’m still cute AF with my cute little belly and squishyness.”
And his thousands of followers support him. Receiving over 9,000 likes, the Instagram star’s pictures have been flooded with an outpouring of support for his honesty and bravery.
"You are amazing and inspiring! Keep up the great work and that positive spirit!" wrote one fan.
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