Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Eating disorders more likely to affect LGBTs
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Charlsie Dewey

This article shared 6799 times since Wed Mar 12, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"Eating disorders are the most lethal of all mental illnesses and LGBTQ persons are at a remarkably high risk for these disorders and no one is talking about it," said Chase Bannister.

Bannister is a licensed clinical social worker in North Carolina and a certified eating disorder specialist by the International Association of Eating Disorders Professionals.

He is also vice president and chief clinical officer at Veritas Collaborative, a specialty behavioral health hospital for young people and an eating disorder treatment center.

He recently gave a presentation on eating disorders within the LGBTQ community, "Eating Disorders in the LGBTQ Community," as part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

He said that the stereotype of someone with an eating disorder is affluent, straight, white females, but in reality eating disorders do not discriminate.

In fact, according to the National Eating Disorder Association, 10 million men are affected by eating disorders during their lifetime, which means that approximately one in three men will be affected.

Gay men are particularly at risk of developing an eating disorder.

"Gay males make up approximately 6 percent of all males in the United States, yet up to about 42 percent of males who identify as having an eating disorder are gay males," Bannister said.

He pointed to a concept called paradoxical thinness and said that both gay and straight men are affected by it.

"[It is] this drive to be muscular and toned at the same time of being remarkably thin," he explained. "It appears that gay males do trend more toward a thin ideal then a muscular ideal, but at the same time its largely similar between straight males and gay males regarding body image."

Some of the experiences that put gay men at a greater risk of developing an eating disorder include issues around coming out, experience of violence, and discrimination or bullying.

But greater acceptance isn't likely to help decrease eating disorders within the gay community. That's because greater participation within the gay community is a risk factor as well, according to Bannister.

"Being a part of gay community activities actually increases body image awareness, body image distress and eating disorder patterns," he said.

Like their female counterparts, Bannister said that gay men are often objectified and deconstructed in such a way that places the greatest value on the way their bodies look.

"Gay males have been sold a false promise by the world around them that if they will deconstruct their body and conform to this unattainable ideal then they will be loved," he said.

William Farrand, of the Center on Halsted's mental-health department, agreed, saying the media impact on the LGBT community and specifically on gay men has created an ideal that is nearly impossible to achieve.

"What is held up as the person who has it all is generally someone with chiseled abs and big biceps, and that may be what a lot of people are taking away as the only thing that anyone values about them," Farrand said.

Bannister said that lesbians are also uniquely affected by eating disorders, much more so than what was originally thought.

"It's been a societal convention that lesbian women are protected from eating disorders or have been protected from eating disorders as a matter of course," he said. "That is, they've been a part of a community that has philosophically rejected any unilateral concept of femininity, of feminine norm, or beauty, or a thin ideal attributed to women.

"What we know now that we didn't a few years ago is that lesbian and bisexual women are just as likely to present with significant eating disorders and eating disorder behaviors as straight women."

Bannister said that because of the previously held belief that lesbian women weren't affected by eating disorders very little meaningful research has been done that is focused on the lesbian community.

Researchers have largely ignored the trans community as well.

"There is not nearly enough information nor research on the trans community," he said.

However, he is somewhat optimistic that the trans community will be included more in future eating disorder studies. He noted that the International Journal of Eating Disorders most recent issue included an article on transsexuals and eating disorders.

But overall, there is a lot more research needed that focuses on all segments of the LGBTQ community.

Currently, Farrand said that there aren't any programs offered through the Center on Halsted that are specifically aimed at eating disorders, and part of that is the lack of information that is out there.

"We direct people more to groups or services that are focused on building self-esteem or wellness," he said. "It is definitely something that I think is worth us looking at."

Bannister said that one of the reasons LGBTQ persons are uniquely affected is because of a concept known as minority stress, which has to do with the societal pressure, stigma, and shame that is put on a community against its will. In the case of the LGBT community minority stress can lead to internalizing homophobia and can hasten the onset of mental illness.

Additionally, many people don't understand how eating disorders work.

"Remember that what might start an eating disorder illness and what might maintain that illness are likely two separate things," he said.

"While an LGBTQ person might begin engaging in these behaviors [restricting food intake, compulsive exercise, or binging and purging] as a way of emotionally coping, what may actually end up happening is that they will have triggered a disease state which is not a disorder of will or choice, and it is akin to having awoken a sleeping dragon in the brain and now that dragon is breathing fire and it is very heard to put back to sleep," he said.

Eating disorders remain a growing problem across the board in the United States.

"We have really created a perfect storm for making sure eating disorders stay around for a very long time," Bannister said.

To raise awareness about who is affected by eating disorders, the National Eating Disorder Association is holding its 27th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Feb. 23-March 1, with the theme "I had no idea."

"What you don't know can hurt you … or someone you love," said Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA. "It is time to get the dialogue going in communities across the country and to educate ourselves to recognize the signs of an eating disorder, which are life-threatening illnesses. But there is hope and there is help, particularly with early intervention."

To find out more, visit .

This article shared 6799 times since Wed Mar 12, 2014
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

COVID Two states and territory come off Chicago's travel advisory 2021-11-30
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed two states and Guam from its weekly COVID-19 Travel Advisory on Nov. 30. No new states were added to the advisory, which now stands at 38 states. California, ...

Gay News

HRC encourages LGBTQ+ people to sign up for health insurance plans 2021-11-29
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is encouraging LGBTQ+ people to sign up for health insurance as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid's Services (CMS) kicks off its LGBTQ+ Theme Week (Nov. 28 - ...

Gay News

Five Worth Finding: World AIDS Day, 'Benedetta,' books, wine in a can 2021-11-26
- —World AIDS Day event at Belmont Harbor: —The Chicago Parks Foundation will hold a World AIDS Day event on Dec. 1, 9-10:30 a.m., at the Belmont Harbor Yacht Club. Antonio King, LGBTQ health and outreach liaison ...

Gay News

New COVID variant discovered in South Africa 2021-11-26
- Global authorities reacted with alarm to a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa, with the European Union and Britain among those tightening border controls as scientists tried to find out if the mutation was vaccine-resistant, ...

Gay News

BIPOC LGBTQ+-led orgs and spaces adapt to continued effects of COVID-19 2021-11-25
- s the world continues to grapple with the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some BIPOC LGBTQ+-led bars and community-building organizations have adapted by implementing increased safety protocols and strengthening ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory back up to 40 states and one territory 2021-11-24
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) added two states to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Nov. 23. The advisory stands at 40 states and one territory. Connecticut, whose daily COVID Case rate per 100,000 ...

Gay News

WORLD HIV case, Ireland items, Kim Petras, actress' illness 2021-11-21
- A woman in Argentina has become only the second documented person whose own immune system may have cured her of HIV, NBC News noted. Researchers have dubbed the 30-year-old mother, who was first diagnosed with HIV ...

Gay News

COVID U.S. opens boosters for all adults 2021-11-20
- On Nov. 19, the United States, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowed COVID-19 booster shots for all adults and took the extra step of urging people 50 and older to seek one, ...

Gay News

HHS acts to prevent discrimination, strengthen civil rights 2021-11-19
--From a press release - Washington D.C. — Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR), announced actions to further ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ equality in nine Illinois municipalities detailed in Human Rights Campaign Index 2021-11-18
--From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, in partnership with The ...

Gay News

COVID Chicago's travel advisory down to 38 states, one territory 2021-11-17
- The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) removed three states and returned one to its weekly COVID-19 travel advisory on Nov. 16. The advisory stands at 38 states and one territory. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee—all of ...

Gay News

SAGE Board of Directors dedicates $1M to support trans elders 2021-11-17
--From a press release - [New York, NY] SAGE, the world's largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ elders, is proud to announce the Transgender and Non-Binary (TGNB) Elder Program Equity Fund. Trans Awareness Week is ...

Gay News

Chicago Therapy Collective to honor Trans Day of Resilience 2021-11-16
- On Saturday, Nov. 20, Chicago Therapy Collective will release an original music video cover of Wildfires (Sault, 2020) in honor of Trans Day of Resilience (TDOR) 2021 and the racial justice uprisings of 2020. According to ...

Gay News

Northwestern University researchers present data on COVID-19 impacts on minoritized youth 2021-11-16
- Two Northwestern University-affiliated researchers presented a webinar Nov.9 about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth in minoritized communities in the United States, among them youths in the LGBTQ+ community. The webinar was part of ...

Gay News

New posters advise Native American caregivers on raising LGBTQ-2S children 2021-11-15
By Cris Villalonga-Vivoni - On Oct. 27, the Family Acceptance Project (FAP) at San Francisco State University further expanded its ongoing "Healthy Futures" poster series by launching three new behavioral guides for indigenous parents ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.