Publication Details

Wright, J., Halse, C. & Levy, G. (2016). Preteen boys, body image, and eating disorders. Men and Masculinities, 19 (1), 3-21.


In recent years, academic and public attention has increasingly focused on the issue of men's preoccupation with body image and the increasing incidence of eating disorders among men. Although most of this focus has been on young and adult males, media discourse has tended to extend explanations for men's aspirations for social body ideals to explanations for eating disorders in young boys. In this article, we take a critical look at the way the boys/body image/eating disorder nexus has been represented in some of the mainstream media. In particular, we propose that the boys/body image/eating disorder nexus has been constituted as a truth that tends to underplay the complexity of the relationship between eating disorders and boys' dissatisfaction with their bodies, as recognized by researchers and health practitioners, and as evident from our own study of preteen boys diagnosed with an eating disorder. In this article, we use interviews with the six boys and their mothers collected for our study to construct short family biographies. These biographies are used to illustrate the complexity of the boys' experience of an eating disorder and to trouble the certainty with which the media discourse explaining boys' eating disorders is constituted.

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