Eating disorders affect everyone; men, women, children, teenagers, adults, and do not exclude race or social status. Struggling with an eating disorder is challenging, as it can seem as if you are all alone however there is a community of survivors, an even larger group of individuals who are still undiagnosed and thousands of other people receiving treatment around the world. We live in a world heavily influenced by the news and pop culture, and many of us look up to famous artists, pop stars, and actors and as a result, sometimes it is humbling to hear stories from celebrities about their real-life battles. Many celebrities who battled eating disorders use their platform to speak out about their struggles as a way to educate others and spread awareness. It does not matter if you are a world-famous international pop star or a high school teenage girl; eating disorders affect everyone, regardless of status and culture. Outward appearances can be deceiving, even if someone looks happy and healthy; you never know what they are truly struggling with on the inside, as most eating disorders are a silent battle.
Christina Ricci first appeared in the Hollywood scene as a child in the 1990s to star in the now iconic movies like Mermaids and Casper. During her time as a child actress, there was not nearly as much information and resources available about eating disorder awareness, and as a result, the stigma associated with disordered eating was much more daunting that it is today. As a young child actress, Ricci was insecure about her changing body, and these insecurities morphed into a battle with anorexia nervosa, and in time, she was able to seek professional treatment.
Perhaps the most famous celebrity with an eating disorder was singer and drummer Karen Carpenter, who with her brother Richard formed half of the hugely popular 1970s singing group The Carpenters. Heartbreakingly, anorexia nervosa silenced her lovely voice forever. After years of growing thinner and thinner, and denying her battle with anorexia nervosa, she died suddenly in 1983, from an irregular heartbeat caused by electrolyte imbalances; a common complication from anorexia nervosa.
Supermodel Molly Sims opened up her obsession with maintaining unrealistic weight goals while modeling for Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret. Today, she’s comfortable in her body, explaining how other things, like her husband and children, are more important than what she looks like, and she is no longer consumed with trying to fit into a size two.
Gymnast and Olympic gold medalist, Shawn Johnson admitted to restricting her carbohydrate intake so obsessively during the 2008 summer Olympics that she would not even eat one noodle in her soup. She admitted that she was only eating 700 calories a day and because she was always a very strong and bulky gymnast, she felt as though people wanted her to be thinner, lighter and leaner. As a 12-year-old she restricted calories so obsessively that she became diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. It was not until years later when she realized putting in time and effort to stay healthy is much more beneficial than looking for a “quick fix” weight loss strategy.
Singer and songwriter Elton John struggled with bulimia nervosa for 16 years before finally seeking treatment for his eating disorder in 1990. He told Larry King in an interview that he knew that he was going to get better once he finally admitted that he needed professional help to overcome his battle with bulimia nervosa.
The world’s most beloved princess struggled for years with an eating disorder before she made her struggle with binging and purging, and the personal insecurity and stress that caused it. She later used her own experience as a way to raise awareness about the dangers of eating disorders.
Celebrating inclusivity during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is February 25th-March 3rd 2019 and is sponsored by the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). This year’s theme is “Come as You Are.” This year’s theme Come as You Are, highlights NEDA’s movement towards inclusivity in the greater eating disorder community and their goal of unifying the field of eating disorders. Raising awareness among celebrities and the general public alike in regards to eating disorder can help unite the community, lessen the stigma and provide hope to those who feel they simply do not “fit in.”