Like it or not, being a celebrity means people care what you look like. There are tabloids who rely on photos of celebs from unflattering angles, who wear bikinis even though they have cellulite, and who go out in public wearing the wrong outfit for their body type to sell more copies. And people eat it up. For some reason we like to see famous people looking their worst because it reinforces that no one is perfect, not even People‘s Most Beautiful People.
But do we ever think about the affect that has on those celebrities? How would we like it if bad pictures of us were plastered all over magazine covers and people were talking about how fat we looked? The pressure on celebrities to look a certain way is high and it’s coming from all angles. Many celebrities struggle with body image issues, and it’s no surprise some of them develop eating disorders.
But a lot of them have been strong enough to come out the other side and open up about their experiences in order to show other people that they can survive an eating disorder, and they are beautiful no matter what. Here are 10 celebrities who’ve conquered an eating disorder.
10. Demi Lovato
When Demi Lovato was only 18 she was starring on the Disney show Sonny With A Chance and touring around the country promoting her second studio album. But instead of being able to focus on the great things in her life, she checked in to a treatment center near Chicago in October of 2010 to work on her issues with anorexia, bulimia, self-harm, drug abuse, and depression. After leaving in-patient treatment in 2011, Lovato spoke to People magazine about when her struggle with food first started. “At 12 years old, I was bullied in school. Girls were calling me fat, so I thought, ‘That’s the reason I don’t have any friends.’ So I stopped eating. I became very weight-conscious, and I lost 30 lbs. I went down to 95 lbs.”
After treatment, Lovato contributed as a guest editor for Seventeen magazine and has been very open about her body image and mental health struggles. She’s also vocal about putting a stop to bullying and loving yourself no matter what your body type.
9. Portia de Rossi
When Portia de Rossi landed a role on Ally McBeal when she was 24, she immediately became obsessed with looking the part. Since then, in her book Unbearable Lightness, de Rossi opened up about how she would crash diet in order to be a certain size. It started when she was a teenager, and continued well into her career as an actress. By the time she’d dieted and overexercised her way to 89 pounds, she had a variety of health problems caused by malnutrition. “I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It sneaked up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. I didn’t decide to not be anorexic either. I decided not to die,” she wrote.
Today, de Rossi is happily married to Ellen DeGeneres and she believes their relationship helped her learn to love herself for who she is.
8. Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Jamie-Lynn Sigler was only 16 when she landed the life changing role of Meadow on HBO’s The Sopranos. But little did anyone know, she was dealing with a lot in her personal life, including a struggle with exercise bulimia. Instead of bingeing on food and then purging through throwing up, Sigler would binge and then purge by exercising obsessively to burn the extra calories. She managed to get down to 80 pounds before finally admitting to her parents that she needed help.
Finding out the HBO producers were auditioning other actresses to take over the role of Meadow because her appearance didn’t fit the character anymore helped motivate her to get healthy and gain some weight. Now, Sigler serves as the spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Association.
7. Katie Couric
Katie Couric has been one of the most well known news anchors in the U.S since she started occasionally filling on for other anchors on the Today show. She’s interviewed countless celebrities and presidential candidates including J.K Rowling, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy Jr. In 2014, during an episode of her talk show Katie, Couric opened up about struggling with bulimia when she was in college.
“Some periods were worse than others, when I was bingeing and purging a lot,” she said. “I’d have a piece of gum that wasn’t sugarless and then say, ‘Oh! I’ve been bad,’ and then feel so terrible that I would eat and throw up. It was awful.” She managed to get her condition under control by her mid-twenties with the help of a therapist. “I’ve learned how to have a much healthier relationship with food, and how to enjoy my life without obsessing about food,” she said.
6. Christina Ricci
One of Christina Ricci‘s first big film roles was Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family when she was 11. As a child star, she was in the spotlight while going through a tough time in most people’s lives– puberty. “I think it’s just really awkward to go through puberty, and go through growing up and becoming a woman, when everybody is always kind of looking at you. And especially — you’re doing fittings for a movie, and people are judging how this looks on you and how that looks on you. And you just get very uncomfortable and you never want anyone to be able to criticize you.”
At 5’1, Ricci has always been petite, and she’s gotten attention from the media for being “too thin”. But she’s confident that she’s now fully recovered and plans to stay that way. “I still think about it, but I could never do it again. I remember the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness when I was in the middle of it,” she said in one interview.
5. Mary-Kate Olsen
Mary-Kate Olsen started her acting career as Michelle Tanner on Full House alongside her twin sister Ashley at nine months old. Since then, they’ve both left acting behind and are now multi-millionaires through their various fashion business ventures. After a few tabloids mentioned how thin Mary-Kate looked, it was reported that she was entering rehab for anorexia in 2004. She never spoke publicly about her struggles and she’s continued to be notoriously private, rarely talking to reporters.
In an interview with ELLE magazine she did say ” I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself.”
4. Calista Flockhart
During Calista Flockhart‘s five season starring role in Ally McBeal she was often criticized by the media for looking too thin. She denied that she had an eating disorder or a drug problem, but she continued to show up to red carpet events looking emaciated. When asked about her figure, Flockhart would attribute it to cutting out sweets and running. Years after the show ended, she did admit that she had a problem with food at the time.
“I was working 15-hour days on the set and then I was dealing with the end of the show, which was basically my life. I started under-eating, over-exercising, pushing myself too hard and brutalizing my immune system. I guess I just didn’t find the time to eat. I am much more healthy these days,” she’s said.
3. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan has had her share of issues including problems with drug and alcohol dependency, run-ins with the law, and out of control partying. When she was younger Lindsay was known for her curves, but as she started partying more, she got noticeably thinner. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Lohan admitted that Amy Poehler and Tina Fey both showed concern over her weight. She also said that her health problems were partly due to bulimia.
“I was sick,” Lohan said. “Everyone was scared. And I was scared too. I had people sit me down and say, ’You’re going to die if you don’t take care of yourself.’ ” Lohan has been in rehab multiple times for various reasons, and she’s currently working on getting her life and her health on track.
2. Zosia Mamet
Girls star Zosia Mamet recently revealed in a column for Glamour magazine that she’s been struggling with an eating disorder since the first time she was called fat when she was 8 years old. “This struggle has been mostly a private one, a war nobody knew was raging inside me,” she wrote. “I tried to fight it alone for a long time. And I nearly died.” She blamed the unrealistic expectations society puts on everyone for her warped sense of what was beautiful. “You want to control something, and then society says, ‘Hey, how about controlling the way you look? Skinny is beautiful.’ ”
Eventually her father stepped in and helped her get treatment, but she still considers herself an “addict in recovery”. She hopes that speaking out about her own struggle will help other people and contribute to reducing the stigma attached the eating disorders.
When Kesha first started out in the music business she was mainly behind the scenes doing backup vocals and writing songs for other artists. But what she really wanted was to record her own music. Of course, being in the spotlight means you’re constantly being scrutinized and Kesha has said “I felt like part of my job was to be as skinny as possible and, to make that happen, I had been abusing my body.” She blamed her eating disorder partly on Dr. Luke, the producer who signed her when she was 18. She claimed he started harassed her about her weight, and said she looked like “a f*****g refrigerator”.
In 2014 she entered rehab, releasing the statement “I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself, but I’ve found it hard to practice. I’ll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder… to learn to love myself again, exactly as I am.”