Body dysmorphia, anorexia and bulimia have been studied in women for years, but rare is an account from a man who battled the dangerous, distorted reflection in his mirror.
Out this month from Brian Cuban, a younger brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, is "Shattered Image," his self-published account of cocaine, alcohol and steroid abuse, a brush with suicide, visits to a psychiatric hospital and three failed marriages.
All, he said in a recent interview, stemmed from the "monster" he began seeing in his mirror as a socially crippled teenager who was overweight and bullied, both at school and by his own mother, herself a victim of body-focused verbal abuse from his grandmother.
Cuban, 52, the executive director of the Mark Cuban Foundation, said he managed to hide his demons until loved ones helped him into recovery about six years ago. Now he fields emails from young people facing the same troubles, mostly girls trying to deal with shards of shattered self-images in their own mirrors.
He wishes more boys were among them.
"Even in 2013, the stigma is just huge for boys. You don't want to out yourself," said Cuban, who lives in Dallas. "I've had men come to me and say they're hiding eating disorders from their wives. They're afraid of losing their jobs. They're afraid of being thought of as gay. Not much has changed for men."
AP: You're just six years or so into recovery. Why write this book now?
Cuban: I just felt that there was a lack of understanding of male self-image and male eating disorders, especially body dysmorphic disorder. It is overwhelmingly thought of and portrayed in the media - and in research - as a predominantly female disorder. I wanted to be one of the ones stepping forward to help change that conversation. Nobody else seems to be. The process of writing was a big part of my recovery. Not just the book but on my blog. I came out as a bulimic on my blog. That was the first my family even knew of it.
AP: In addition to the book, what steps will you take to raise visibility on these and related issues like bullying?
Cuban: My goal is to reach out to college students to educate them about male body image issues. And to reach out to parents to hopefully start a new conversation about how to talk to your children and how fat-shaming can affect your child's perspective and get it out there that every child is different. Every child is born unique. When I talk to parents I hear a lot of, 'Well, I was bullied and I fought back so that's what I'm going to teach my kid.' That's great and maybe that will work for your son or your daughter, but your child is not you. Your child may not be mentally equipped to handle it the way you did.