Let’s Hear it for the Boys


Hello, Beauties!

I hope that our women’s week is going nicely so far. Huge thanks to everyone who read and commented on my interview over at The Health and Happiness Club. I’m so happy you liked it!

In the midst this week long celebration of women, women’s health, feminism, etc., I want to pause for a moment, switch gears, and extend appreciation to the special men who inhabit our lives–especially the men who support us through ups and downs in health and wellness.

You see, I’m constantly surprised (in a very nice way) by the number of female clients who tell me about the supportive husbands, boyfriends, friends, brothers, and fathers in their lives. As much as we may identify misogyny as one of the many factors that enable a culture of disordered eating among women (and men, of course–one estimate states that 25% of eating disorder sufferers are man), it’s important to remember that we’re talking about a set of diffused cultural attitudes, and not the individual attitudes of all, or most, men we know. So many female clients, friends, and fellow bloggers have told me about the remarkable men who have stood by them through eating disorder recovery, or who have reassured them through weight gains and losses, or who have cheered them on as they take strides towards healthier lifestyle habits. Others have told me about the men who saw them through serious health crises: who stood by them as they waited for frightening test results, maintained a sense of calm when something was amiss, and participated in the path to healing or recovery.

These stories never cease to warm my heart. I am so, so glad that so many of you have healthy support systems, not only from female friends, but also from the men in your lives! Statistically, many women who are susceptible to disordered eating have estranged or tenuous relationships with father figures. Still more are victims of abuse, sexual or physical, or childhood trauma. Many women who have experienced body dysmorphia (either as a part of an eating disorder or just in general) report difficulty with sexual intimacy, or intimacy in general. To say that male support can “fix” these issues is ridiculously simplistic. But it does seem as though the presence of a supportive husband, lover, friend, or brother–along with an otherwise sturdy support system of friends and family, of course–can help a woman to re-think some of the insecurities that block self-love.

Today, let’s take a moment to consider whether any special men have helped us to move closer to a healthy relationship with our physical or emotional selves. And if they have, let’s give them a little thank you — private or in person. It might be a boyfriend, current or former, who helped you to connect with your body. It might be a husband who’s willing to trek out for an early morning run, just so that you’ll have some company, or who just agreed to try tempeh for the first time. Or it might be the amazing guy friend who will never fail to mention when you’re looking foxy in a new dress. Whatever the case, share your gratitude, now and always.


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  1. it’s true! He helps me eat healthy even when I don’t want to, and he introduced me to the blog world ๐Ÿ™‚ Even more though, he pushes me to be better, in all areas of my life. He’s awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Great Post!
    My Husband is my best friend, without him who knows who/where/what I’d be.
    We are partners in this life, but our sould have known each other much longer…

  3. Amen, sista! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I am so lucky to have grown up with an amazingly supportive father (and brother) who set the bar for what type of treatment I expect from my romantic male partners. My boyfriend is my #1 fan (and I am his) & he reminds me everyday of my positive qualities, even when I’m not feeling very fabulous.

  4. Thank you for this. I don’t want to say it’s encouragement/acceptance/attraction/compliments from men that keep me strong, but I will say that there are more men in my life that have made me feel beautiful, appreciated and respected than there are women. I enjoyed this post, and think it’s an often overlooked topic. Thanks for posting.

  5. Lovely post, Gena! Unfortunately, I have not had the experience of having those positive and loving men in my life so far; I’m going through a phase where I’m a bit afraid of them, to be honest. But it’s comforting to know that you here from women who do experience men who are supportive of their bodies, dreams, etc. I am sure I will meet one someday…

  6. This post was amazing and touching! There have been two guys in my life that have helped me turn around my ED mindset and I would love to thank them everyday if i could. I’ve thanked them several times though; and they never like to take credit for it. boys. hehe. So, to say it once again, thank you Brad for all that you did for me, for pushing my buttons and holding my hand whenever I needed you, and thank you Dad for always checking up on me and finding other ways for me to overcome my obstacles than taking it out on my body. Thank you thank you!

  7. Wonderfully written Gena! My biggest thanks goes out to my husband Dave, who is so supportive of me and my son for being vegan. He has no problem defending me or speaking up for me and my beliefs. It seems every time he meets someone at work and they start talking about animals or food he tells them about me. He just may be more of a spokesperson for vegans than he knows! lol!
    My dad, thank you for always saying how pretty me and my sisters looked and how he didn’t think we ever needed to wear alot of makeup. For always giving us a hug and saying how much he loved us.
    My brother Jerry who is ALWAYS a phone call away to talk to whenever I need to.
    Thank you!!!!

  8. The way I’m feeling this week, I comment here grudgingly, but will do so anyway because it is via my current struggles that I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find support in my dad. He’s never been one to talk much, and when I call my parents’ house I expect my mom to pick up, or for my dad to hand the phone to her. But I’ve gotten to talk a lot more with him recently, and he “gets it” way more than I’d have expected. There were 3 divorces for my parents before they ever got together, so I guess I ought to trust them to know a thing or two about breakups (and finding The One, for that matter!).

  9. Bravo, Gena! So beautifully written! Thanks for the reminder…I’m going now to thank my biggest hero…my husband! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Wow, again Gena, a beautifully written post! It did bring tears to my eyes (that and all the lovely comments). Unfortunatly not happy tears. I realise more and more how the lack of good and supportive men in my life have affected me.

  11. Awww Gena, this is beautiful! Thank you so much for another brilliant post. I’ve got to say a big thank you to my husband Cody for being the sweetest friend I’ve ever had, the number one supporter I could ever imagine, and the most gentle person I’ve ever known. I don’t know how I could ever live without him. I’m off to give him a big kiss!

  12. Yay for great men! I’ll thank my dad for long walks and tennis rallies, and paying for guest passes at the gym. I think women have affected my body image way more than men, at least in the direct ways. But men have a lot of power to change what women feel about their bodies. It’s great to hear how supportive many are. Thanks to my partner for supporting me in every way!

  13. Aw Gena what a nice post. This exact topic has been on my mind lately – my boyfriend has been a rock throughout my journey and recently, I think he’s noticed how much good food and fitness have been positively affecting my life, because he’s beginning to become conscious of his lifestyle as far as health and fitness and has been asking me all kinds of questions about healthy eating, and I couldn’t be happier! It’s actually bringing us even closer and I love it.

    Also – my dad! He’s training to become a Spin instructor, went RAW last year for a while, and while he’s transitioned back into a non-vegan lifestyle, he still eats rather healthy and fully supports my ambitions to make health and fitness my life’s work. Amazing.

  14. I totally understand; my boyfriend has always been by my side.

    So here, I’m going to tell him this:

    “Michael, thank you so much for always being my side with me, helping getting through the tough eating disorder times, and eating the meal I prepare for you everyday; regardless of it being PB&J or a salad.”

  15. I want to thank my boyfriend who every saturday goes with me to angelica kitchen for lunch, liquiteria for juices, the farmers market in union square for produce, loves to try out raw recipes with me and of course for reading thefullhelping.com on a regular basis :-). Thanks G!

  16. beautiful post gena! it brought tears to my eyes…

    D, thank you for loving me unconditionally for as long as i have been alive…

    J, thank you for loving me just as i am…and for trying tofu, even though you said you would never ever ever try it…

  17. hi Gena, your post about eating at work, not glamourous, but real life food, per se. Loved it.
    Read your interview, stellar.
    Men in our lives…I have been married 10 yrs, together 11 and he has seen me thru ups, downs, bads, goods, is the most amazing father to our child, and I couldnt imagine life without him. He tries nut pates and raw vegan desserts, he supports all my efforts, he’s truly my BFF. I am not trying to make this comment a tribute to a man who will never see this! but rather to say that it’s nice you remember that men have a place. They may annoy the heck outta us, but the good ones are worth keeping around ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Thank you for posting this! My hubbie of 5 years is nothing but supportive about my attemps to get us “more raw”- he doubles up on raw recipes even when I push them aside and say “that is disgusting, I will not be making that again”…. He says “I like it!” and adds more to his plate.

    I thank my stars every day that I have a husband who loves to eat healthy (but is never so obsessed that he will turn down a heaping plate of nachos or a burger), loves me for me, and supports me beyond 100% in any attemps I make to better myself.

  19. B, thanks for being the most amazing man I have ever met.

    D, thanks for being the best dad a girl could ever have.

  20. My boyfriend is and always has been an enormous support for me. As I weave through the confusion of battling a chronic pain disorder he holds my hand and encourages me to keep searching for answers. When I momentarily lose hope and think I will forever be struggling, he gently reminds me of how strong and brave I am and how far I’ve come. Further, he truly appreciates my body x pounds down and x pounds up. He loves and admires my voracious appetite. Lucky me, I get to marry him in 3 weeks ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I love this post, Gena. LOVE.

    Thanks to my Dad for congratulating me when I didn’t eat my Aunt’s lasagna because I quit dairy.

    Thanks to my BF for buying me vegan Amy’s products without being asked and for not making fun of my kale chips.

    Thanks to my brother for trying to be a vegetarian, even if it couldn’t last, and reminding me to get outdoors.

  22. Men always criticize feminism for being one sided so it’s great to see a shout out to the boys. I personally have a great support network and many of them are men.

  23. Really great post…I am always quick to make fun of my husband but he really is supportive of all my crazy eating habits…no matter what they may be. I am very lucky!

  24. as i read this my boyfriend cory looked over his shoulder and pointed to himself like thats mee and smiled. great post

  25. let’s not forget that men can struggle with their body image and acceptance as well.

    i am lucky to have a great husband who is very supportive and has loved me at various states of my physical body’s shape and strength.

  26. Beautiful. The men who have loved me most in my life have never judged or conditioned their love on what I weigh or what I eat. I’ll make sure to give my dad an extra long embrace and my husband a big thank you the next time I see them. Thanks for this perspective, my friend.

  27. I have second Sarah comments – honestly, this is such an over-looked topic. My husband is running a marathon with me because I knew I needed support to do it, and he’s always supportive of my crazy meal ideas.

  28. What a great post and so true, something I was thinking about reading the article in Get Fresh! about the relationship challenges that can ensue when one goes raw and the other does not. I’m thankful for my husband being supportive and support his individual eating habits.

  29. Love this! My husband is one of those men. He has walked by my side every step of the way during my recovery from nine years of anorexia. Even when I fight and cry and hate my body, he always reminds me that I am what beauty is to him. He has contributed in huge ways to my recovery!

  30. Gena, your posts never fail to awe, move and inspire me. This is such an overlooked and thought-provoking topic. I truly have so many males to thank–probably more so than females–for the healthy and confident relationship I’ve build with myself.

    You’re amazing, lady.

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