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Boys and Eating Disorders

25 Sep

Did you know that 10% of 10 million people in the US with an eating disorder are male? I had no idea until I read A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger.


I had to reread the first two pages because I was confused about who was narrating the story. Then, I realized it was being narrated by his eating disorder! How wonderful and terrifying. It was an effective way to write the story because it gave enough distance from the main character, Mike, who had a great life.  He was on his high school baseball team. His grades were good, although he was quiet in class, and he had a good friend who was like a brother.  Then his family fell apart. Mike self-confidence fails and his self-image becomes distorted. We can see that he is surrounded by well-intentioned people who miss the signs of an eating disorder or try to help, but stop short of really helping. And, the eating disorder warps how Mike perceives. them. The voice sounds caring to Mike, but it is creepy to me, making it really powerful.

The book is short but packs a punch. The only other book that really helped me understand a bit of the world of eating disorders is Laurie Halse Anderson’s  Wintergirls. 

As an adult who works with kids, A Trick of the Light made me reflect on the many ways we talk to kids, but fall short. We walk up to the line, but are afraid to cross it.  As a specialist in a school, I don’t have homeroom teacher responsibilities and sometimes it is hard to tell a colleague that they might be missing something.  I need to see all kids as my kids and make the homeroom teacher, counselor and administrators aware of what  see. And I need to be sure I call kids on what  see, letting them know there is one more adult in their life who cares.

In Mike’s case, we learn that his friend Tamio, one of his teachers, his coach and others kept calling his mother to let her know they were concerned. It took all of them for her to finally realize Mike had a problem so he could get the help he needed.


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