Alex Blaze

LGB teens at risk for eating disorders

Filed By Alex Blaze | September 24, 2009 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anorexia, bisexual, bulimia, eating disorders, lesbian, lgb, LGBT youth, school, teens

I am kind of surprised by this. I was aware that eating disorders were much more common among gay men than among straight men, but I didn't know lesbian and bisexual women faced heightened levels of eating disorders as well.

I generally assumed that the reason more gay men starved themselves and threw up was because of the Male Gaze and judgmental gays who can dominate certain gay spaces. But low self-esteem and social isolation should also be thrown up there, since if it was just the Male Gaze lesbians would at least have reduced rates of eating disorders.

Lead researcher S. Bryn Austin and her colleagues found that lesbian, bisexual, and mostly heterosexual girls were about twice as likely as heterosexual ones to report binge-eating. Bisexual and mostly heterosexual girls (though apparently not lesbians) were also more likely to purge. Homosexual boys were seven times more likely to binge and 12 times more likely to purge than straight boys, with bisexual and mostly heterosexual boys facing a lesser but still elevated risk.

It doesn't surprise me at all. I knew plenty of women who had poor self-image, yes, but most people I've known, teens or adults, who actually starved themselves or vomited regularly were gay men.

This report, along with earlier studies that show higher rates of pregnancy among bisexual teen girls, demonstrates that that population needs help. So can we stop talking about bisexual people getting heterosexual privilege, leaving the community when convenient, and having it so much better off than gay and lesbian people do, please?

(Thanks to reader Barbara for emailing the link in.)

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Look how many people in our community have body issues. Some of our contributors seem to be terrified of a camera just for that reason.