The SRU Women’s Center brought in author and keynote speaker Brian Cuban on Monday to address SRU students about male eating disorders, negative body image, addiction, and recovery.
Cuban’s endeavor started when he was a freshman at Penn State Behrend, where he began his fight with anorexia and bulimia. In the 1970s, people didn’t talk about eating disorders, Cuban said, especially men with eating disorders. Because of this stigma, he spent much of his young adult life believing he was completely alone, the only one in the world struggling with these issues.
Cuban mentioned his strained relationship with his mother early in his life, but even though his mother’s negative comments certainly affected him, he said parents do not cause eating disorders and parents do not cause addiction.
“There’s a saying: ‘genetics loads the gun, environment pulls the trigger,’” Cuban said.
As Cuban got older, he discovered alcohol, and became addicted. He even decided to go to law school just so he could continue his dysfunctional cycle without anyone discovering the truth. Later on in his life, Cuban also became addicted to cocaine and attempted suicide, followed by three failed marriages.
“Here’s where you can all breathe a sigh because this is where it all turns around,” Cuban said of his second trip to the psychiatric ward in April 2007. At the time, he thought this would be his last visit to the ward.
Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological illness, Cuban said, and he genuinely believed he wouldn’t live much longer. He did live, and he has spent the last 9 years in recovery.
Director of the Women’s Center and Pride Center, Advisor of Sister to Sister and S.E.L.F, co-advisor to RockOUT, Jodi Solito said there are always resources available to assist anyone who is in recovery or who would like to be. She said recovery is not shameful and addiction is not a character flaw; it is a disease.
Cuban said today, the media is different when it comes to eating disorders.
“We have all these things that tell us that the only way you can be loved and accepted and popular is to look like what no one can look like,” Cuban said.
Solito said Cuban’s presentation was well-received by all who attended, and she herself found his story compelling.
“We must stop tearing each other down,” Solito said.
Cuban ended his emotional and powerful talk with three words,“you are enough.”
Solito said the Women’s Center’s mission is to redress gender inequity thorough education
“Men who experience disordered eating and, or body image issues often do so secretly,” Solito said. “We wanted to bring this to light in hopes of initiating conversations among students that men, too, experience body issues. Eating disorders are thought to be a ‘women’s issue.’ There may be concerns that disproportionately affect women, but nothing is simply a ‘women’s issue.’”