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Brave KU student speaks about his eating disorder

By River Reporter Apr 29, 2013

Anorexia is eight times more likely to happen to women, but some men are still suffering in silence.

Sofia Capel and Anna Stayduhar

Sam*, a Kingston University student, began starving himself when he was 13. His friends told him that he was skinny, but when he looked in the mirror, all he could see was fat.

“I used to torment myself with it on a daily basis and every time I looked in the mirror I saw something I hated,” he says.

He would also make himself vomit and cut himself out of shame and depression.

Not alone

At least 1.1 million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. While around one in 250 women will experience anorexia nervosa at some point in their life, only one in 2000 men will.

Dr. Rune Kroken, specialist in psychiatry, said: “Less attention have been paid to boys with eating disorders and young men can perhaps cover their eating problems by heavy training even more than women.

High value friendships

“If you think a friend is suffering from an eating disorder you should talk to them about your concerns and if they don’t listen, tell their closest relatives.

“Be a good role model to them by not focusing on weight, food, clothes and looks in your own life. A warm and accepting friendship is of high value for someone who tries to get rid of an eating disorder.”

According to the NHS, risk factors that can make someone more likely to attain an eating disorder include history of sexual or emotional abuse, family history of depression and anxiety, or going through very stressful situations. Another factor is society’s pressure to be thin.

“The most amazing instrument”

KU graduate Caryn Franklin recently received an MBE at Buckingham Palace for her services to positive Body Image Diversity in the fashion industry. She is also a member of the Lib Dem Body Confidence steering committee.

She said: “My advice for all young women and men who feel that their normal, healthy bodies are not good enough is simply this: You are a magnificent individual. Be kind to yourself and honour your body like the most amazing instrument.”

Ms Franklin claims the fashion industry with its pictures of photoshopped models creates a fantasy that is highly alluring and that it can seduce you into thinking real life is the same.

She continued: “When you recognize how the fashion industry can create powerful brainwashing around something that isn’t achievable, you can begin to see the pressure that you are under and the reason why you must begin thinking about yourself in a different way.”  

She underlines that anyone who thinks they have an eating disorder needs professional help. 

Making us stronger

Sam says that although he feels better now than in his teens, his brain still triggers him to think that he is “fat” and “not perfect” at times.

“I think life throws things at us because it makes us stronger. This will result in us living to the highest capability we can, if we learn from the lessons we are given.”

The River advises anyone with an ED to visit the University’s GP and to phone BEAT youthline: 0845 634 7650

*Sam is not the student’s real name

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