It has finally happened(?)
When I began studying my PhD in 2008 there was barely a news story to be found that truly did any justice to male EDs. It just didn’t seem to be of interest. In my thesis I identify that particular year as a turning point. After this time there was a proliferation (relatively speaking) of research. This seemed to directly impact on media with more stories appearing. Several books were published by men who had endured and survived disordered eating – prior to this there was only really Michael Krasnow’s text of note. Now, in 2014, a single research journal article cause a minor sensation with several national press carrying their version of the story. All of whom, it’s fair to say, managed to cherry pick the ‘juicy’ bits. This runs the risk of simply swapping misconceptions of male EDs , rather than tackling them; exchanging one public misunderstanding for another.
I realise I probably sound like I’m moaning. I’m not, truly. Any media awareness is better than none at all, especially given that the vast majority of us get our updated views of our world via media and social media outlets… and this is exactly my point. There have been other good quality articles (Ahonen, 2003, for one) that have been published over time, and at least one excellent book published this year (Cohn & Lemberg, 2014). These have dealt rigorously with male eating disorders and sought to give insight into experience and the under-recognised situation many men find themselves in.
So how come these did/have not cause(d) a splash? Can it be that because much of our research is fettered by the shackles of academic publishing. Let alone that we mainly write our work for other researchers, rarely the public, unless someone has a vested interest in a subscription, has access to a university library or works in an affiliated profession, most research is in closed journals that are simply not accessible. The journal article yesterday was in BMJ Open, meaning that anyone can access the work – and still the media mediates our access to the original information. Perhaps if we really want to change healthcare services for men with eating disorders, more of us should think about sending our work to open journals and working up the media story to go with it ourselves, with media outlets like The Conversation (who try to make academic research digestible for a much wider audience).
See the following for yesterday’s stories running as a result of the BMJ Open article and my response to it: