Vic Avon is awesome. He’s smart. Kind, and reflective. Handsome. (And married. Darn!) We expect most of these qualities in a Prince Charming, but what makes Vic our knight in shining armor is that he is a knight in shining armor. He rescues people… Or, as he would say, he helps people to rescue themselves.
As the first and only male representative of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), Vic gets quite a bit of attention. He uses that attention to draw awareness to a publicly unnoticed yet growing issue – male anorexia.
Vic is the perfect spokesman for it. “There was no light bulb of ‘oh, I have anorexia’,” he says over a Skype interview. “I didn’t think of it as a possibility to describe my mental and emotional state. If I were a girl, they would have seen the red flags, but three to four years passed until I had a crystallized moment – I realized that my life wasn’t normal.”
Ruled by fears of being not good enough and of being unworthy, and by the compulsion to make himself worthy, Vic went to the gym three times per day and ate little afterward. “I was overweight for years and tried to fit the tough-guy mold that is expected of the men in my family. I tied my self-worth issues into my body. I thought that if I become the person that everyone wants me to be, life would be peachy. I lost the weight, but nothing changed.” He says that he lived in constant fear of his body and of food. And he couldn’t stop.
Being deep in the grip of anorexia, he says, was like being in his car and someone else was driving. From waking to sleep, every action, thought, and emotion was controlled by something else. And the something else was throwing constant abuse: he’ll never be a good enough husband, and he’s not good enough in general. Common to those who suffer self-esteem issues, Vic turned to the negativity for its truth and the comfort he found in that truth. But while he believed it, on some level he knew that it also was not the truth. He also knew he had a choice, but acting on that choice seemed nigh impossible. “I knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel,” he says about his road to recovery, “but I thought it might be a freight train.”
After living in darkness for four years, some light was shed for Vic when he was diagnosed with anorexia in 2006. He hospitalized himself and drew on the support of his wife and his parents, but he quickly realized that he had to be his biggest supporter. “The scariest thing was pondering giving it up. I was anorexic for six years. When you’re that sick for that long, it’s your identity, it’s your turn-to. I was so afraid to let go.”
But he did, and today Vic and his trusty steed ride fast and furious along the road of recovery, helping others along the way. He facilitates an eating disorder recovery support group, speaks publicly to raise awareness of eating disorders, and is involved with NEDA’s Navigator Program, which gives guidance, support, and resources to those afflicted with eating disorders and their families. He is also a mentor for the MentorCONNECT Program, which “provide[s] individuals with the means to break through the isolation of eating disorders by sharing the tools or recovery in supporting relationships,” according to their website.
In his search to understand his troubles, Vic spent much time online researching. And because he couldn’t find any other personal reports of males dealing with anorexia, he penned his account of his battle with anorexia and subsequent recovery, in My Monster within: My Story.
And now, some Q & A with the handsome and heroic Vic Avon.
What is your life philosophy?
It’s on a paperweight. “Never too late to start your life over”. I got it when I was hospitalized and looking for a sign. I didn’t think I could change and become a new person. There’s nothing that you can’t overcome.
Catchphrase: Turn struggle into strength. Also summarized as, Just because today was crappy, doesn’t mean tomorrow can’t be happy.
How did you meet your wife?
We went to high school together, but never spoke a word. But on the first day moving into college we met through a mutual friend. Became best friends for about a year, and have been together ever since. I did everything I could to push her away. She was there with me every step of the way. I’m so grateful that she didn’t leave. I couldn’t fathom why she stayed with me. She never answered that question, actually.
What are the top 3 things you love about your wife?
- She’s the yin to my yang: bubbly and naturally happy 100% of the time. I can be cynical and hard-nosed.
- She’s naturally nice and caring about everyone. She will literally do anything for anyone.
- She’s sunshine in a person.
- Oh – and that she stuck with me. I’m big on trust.
Tell us your secret talents.
- Touch tongue to the nose
- Put my palms on the floor
- And my secret – I’m a softie.
What is the top trait you admire most in a person?
Being real. Nothing drives me crazier than people who are fake.
Describe your favorite way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
On the couch, under a blanket, watching a movie. I work my butt off during the week so I don’t get much down time. Sometimes I’ll go to the beach and ride the waves.
And with a wave of his hand, our gallant hero trots toward the setting sun, leaving us to sigh with heaving bosoms in admiration of how he has overcome the crushing obstacles of his life to become… A Holly Pinafore Prince Charming.
To read more on Vic and perhaps get some answers for yourself or a loved one, go to his website VicAvon.com.