As storytellers in the health field, we tend to focus on “the typical patient” when bringing a new topic to light in the media. Take for example eating disorders. In most articles, you hear about the young teenage girl struggling to stay thin. But what about the men? Is their story being told?
In recent months, two celebrities have come forward to break this stereotype. Zayne Mallik, a former singer for One Direction, and Joey Julius, a football player for the Penn State Nittany Lions, recently shared their eating disorders with the world. These two brave men broke the common media narratives on eating disorders, creating a media storm around their lives. As men, their admission to an eating disorder represented a departure away from the “usual” toward the “unusual.”
Media narratives mainly focus on women and eating disorders, making men less likely to identify and self-diagnose their own issue. As the health landscape continues to grow and new voices struggle to be heard, it is important to not just focus on the usual narratives that dominate media. In PR, it is essential to be an active recipient of media and make our own unusual narratives. As active recipients, we can better frame issues so that disorders like theirs do not go unaddressed.
It was incredible to see how quickly their story gained traction. In the following weeks, the discourse on eating disorders rapidly evolved to include men, provoking important questions on the hidden affliction that affects nearly 10 million men in the United States. The “unusualness” of their admissions has driven the national discourse in ways that the relatable patient could not.
That their admission was this newsworthy should speak louder than anything — so maybe it’s time we start thinking outside the box when it comes to health and media.
Feel like your corporate story is typical? Perhaps we can help you break away from the typical story narrative to say something new. Let’s be unusual for once. It’s your time to be heard.