Sheffield’s Reverend and the Makers frontman talks for the first time about his battle with anorexia

Reverend and the Makers frontman Jon McClure talks for the first time about his battle with anorexia in a men’s special of The Naked Podcast.

By Stephanie Bateman
Thursday, 21 February, 2019, 12:42
Adam Oxley and Jon McClure

Musician Jon McClure, lead singer with the Sheffield band Reverend and the Makers, is the first man to be interviewed for The Naked Podcast. He has spoken openly and honestly about his experiences of anorexia in the men’s special podcast which is available today.

Regular Naked Podcast presenters Kat Harbourne and Jenny Eells handed the mic over to their colleague Adam Oxley for the unclothed and unconventional interview highlighting some of the biggest issues facing men.

McClure opened up to Oxley about his own mental health issues and his battle with anorexia when he was a teenager: 

“By about 14 I'd clapped quite a lot of weight on. As I put weight on I started to develop this 'I don't want people to see me'...This is around the time Brit Pop is coming out...so there's all these rock stars, your idols who are all bone thin and dead skinny, Jarvis [Cocker] and Liam Gallagher and Damon [Albarn] and they're all dead thin... and I started to get shy about my body...

“Around the age of 16 I got really funny with food - I skipped meals, I guess you would call it anorexia.  I went really thin and my parents had to step in. I think women tend to be more vigilant in this day and age for other ladies who are suffering with eating disorders.  There’s still an assumption amongst a lot of blokes that it doesn’t affect men but it really does.

“I was keeping secrets from people and skipping meals and making excuses not to eat certain things.  I was quite unhappy I think, looking back.”

Oxley and McClure were completely naked for the interview which took place at a music studio in Sheffield. McClure explains how he feels there’s as much pressure on men to conform to look a certain way as there is on women:

“Always in the back of my mind there's this conformity...you see adverts and you think 'I need to look like that'... I'm never going to look like that. The media, the fashion industry, they perpetuate a notion that people have to look a certain way. I think boys fall victim to that just as much as girls do.

“I guess a lot of fellas struggle in that regard...I think there's still an assumption amongst a lot of blokes that it doesn't affect men, but it does. That's why I wanted to do it [this interview] really.”

McClure, who has young children of his own, also feels that social media has led to more pressure on young people:

“I think kids now have more pressure put upon them than ever because people can bully them online as well as at school.  I think we've got a duty as a society to look out for young people. We do come in all different shapes and sizes and kids can be cruel.  People can be cruel. I see that on the Internet at lot - under the veil of anonymity people think they've got carte blanche to say anything they want to you.  They can be very hurtful.” 

And McClure has one final piece of advice to anyone going through similar experiences: “Boys bottle it up.  It's not the done thing to talk, especially amongst working class men, Northern men particularly.  I wanted to bust through all that and say sometimes I feel weird about my body and it's alright if you do too.”

The second series of The Naked Podcast launched earlier this week.  Others who’ve dared to bare all for this series include Lauren Mahon from the BBC Radio 5 Live podcast You, Me and The Big C and former Team GB para-cyclist Sally Hurst.

The Naked Podcast interview with Jon McClure, together with two other episodes of The Naked Podcast, is available on BBC Sounds here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p070rk8t  It is also available on Spotify, iTunes and other podcast platforms.