Studies are now indicating that up to 10% of Americans will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Media has been increasingly placing an emphasis on looking like a picturesque model no matter who you are, and the pressure is understandably getting to people. For reasons that are sadly obvious and unsurprising, women are about twice as likely to struggle from these sorts of conditions than men. Equally obvious is that young celebrities may well find themselves especially prone to conditions based on their body image, thanks to the bright lights and cameras that constantly follow them around.
The two big eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia, which respectively force patients to starve themselves and binge-eat then purge, both practices being horribly damaging to the human body, not to mention psyche. While the idea of young (and old) women (and men) torturing themselves through their own food habits is tragic, the small upside is that the more people who suffer, the more likely they are to talk about it.
As with many psychological issues, talking about eating disorders is one of the first steps towards fixing them, and countless people have been able to overcome them through open and honest therapy. Celebrity victims have been no different from everyday people in this regard, their higher profiles occasionally even helping the world-at-large better understand these diseases through their public struggles. To ensure the problem doesn’t get worse once it falls out of the national consciousness, keep reading to learn about 15 gorgeous women you never knew overcame eating disorders.
15. Amanda Bynes
Joining All That in the third season, Amanda Bynes instantly became one of the biggest stars on the show through her recurring “Ask Ashley” sketch. Because of her solid performance as Ashley and as other characters, producers even felt the young Bynes was ready for a series of her own, creating The Amanda Show, which made its debut the day after her 13th birthday. Before hitting her 20s, Bynes graduated to What I Like About You on The WB, plus began a burgeoning film career mostly focused on romantic comedies. It wasn’t meant to last, though, as Bynes would announce her retirement from acting in 2012, and has thus far stuck to that decree. Unfortunately, it could be that her personal life has simply gone too out of control for Bynes to keep working, as she’s also been struggling with drug and alcohol abuse problems since before her so-called retirement even began. On top of this, Bynes already has mental health issues and has received psychiatric treatment more than once. Before she was actually admitted, though, Bynes heavily denied reports she had mental problems by counter-arguing that she simply suffered from an eating disorder. While she was clearly wrong about her own mental state, it’s likely she suffered from anorexia as well, as she once bragged about her plan to weigh under 100 lbs.
14. Mary-Kate Olsen
Thanks to the old adage that says two is better than one, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were easily two of the most successful child stars in entertainment history. After getting their starts as toddlers on Full House, they started their own company, Dualstar, while still under 10 years old, getting promoted to co-Presidents upon their 18th birthday. Eventually, Dualstar created no less than three more TV shows and countless direct-to-video movies, making Mary-Kate and Ashley as wealthy as they were internationally famous. In their later years, the Olsens have taken their dominance to the fashion world through their brand, The Row. Despite this unparalleled success, things haven’t always been perfect for the girls, and the implication they do everything together might turn out to be misleading as well. In 2004, Mary-Kate alone went public about her struggles with anorexia nervosa and began treatment for her condition. Sister Ashley has never reported any such problems, showing how personal and internalized the disorders often tend to be.
13. Hilary Duff
Not all famous sisters are created equally as evidenced by the wildly differing careers of Hilary and Haylie Duff. Unlike the Olsen sisters, the Duffs aren’t twins, but they were still close enough in age that their careers basically began at the same time. For whatever reason, though, it was the younger Hilary who became a big star first, with Haylie as of yet unable to break out of her little sister’s shadow. While Hilary was a great success on TV and in film, things haven’t always been perfect with Duff’s personal life, specifically with regard to her own body image. During her rise to fame, Duff was constantly denying herself food to the extent she was malnourished when Lizzie Mcguire ended, weighing a mere 98 lbs. The malnourishment was causing painful hand cramps that made her realize it was time to get help, and it turns out the lesson was one that lasted. Years later, after giving birth to her first son, Duff was actually praised by health experts for eschewing Hollywood tradition and taking her time losing the baby weight, doing so through a safer method than the average actress is known to attempt.
12. Nicole Scherzinger
Before there was American Idol, there was Popstars USA on The WB, a series that birthed the girl group Eden’s Crush in 2001. Despite great success with their debut single and album, Eden’s Crush wasn’t meant to last, but lead singer and former Days of the New Member Nicole Scherzinger wasn’t ready to let that be the end of her entertainment career. At first, Scherzinger attempted to go solo, but she soon found herself at the center of a second act called The Pussycat Dolls, which went on to become one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. The downside was that Scherzinger also developed bulimia while the Dolls were at their peak, due to her discomfort appearing in photo shoots wearing only her underwear. To hide her condition, Scherzinger also became extremely private and distant during this period of her life, no doubt compounding her problem by pretending it didn’t exist. After suffering for eight years, her healing began when she admitted there was a problem, and she’s maintained a healthier weight ever since.
11. Demi Lovato
Before she was 10 years old, Demi Lovato had already become close friends with one of pop culture’s most recognizable figures: Barney the Dinosaur. Halfway into her teens, Lovato had become a veritable pop princess in her own right, through her appearances on multiple Disney Channel original films. Unfortunately, either despite or because of all this early fame, Lovato claims she was harshly bullied as a child, perhaps influencing her later struggles with mental illness and self-harm. Included amongst Lovato’s problems was severe bulimia, something she admitted at age 18 when entering a rehab facility for the first time. Lovato would spend the next several years in and out of treatment, achieving her sobriety around 2012. It would appear her struggles with weight went away with the drug problems, as Lovato has managed a complete comeback to music and television, now more successful than ever. Unfortunately, her example alone won’t curb the problem, as evidenced by the controversy surrounding pro-anorexic jokes that continued to litter the Disney Channel on shows like Shake it Up and So Random.
10. Alexa Bliss
Thanks to pro wrestling being scripted, sports entertainment tends to lean on how the women in the industry look in deciding who gets promoted and who doesn’t. Athleticism and acting skills obviously play a role, but in WWE especially, a woman’s looks can be as integral to her career as they are to an actress or model. The same might be said of a cheerleader or gymnast, and as a woman who spent time in all three activities, Alexa Bliss found herself prone to a serious eating disorder. According to the two-time WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion, her condition was bad enough to be life-threatening by the time she was 15. On the plus side, her athletic interests ultimately saved her life, as Bliss was also an amateur bodybuilder and weightlifter. While women in these industries are just as susceptible to eating disorders as any other, the more serious ones realize eating constantly and healthily is essential to bodybuilding. Flipping the usual script, the more bright lights and cameras Bliss saw, the more she knew she had to stay at a healthy weight rather than a dangerous one, helping her in overcoming her problems.
9. Lily Collins
As the daughter of Phil Collins, model, actress, and writer Lily Collins was thrust into show business almost from the day she was born. As if having a famous parent wasn’t enough to mess up her life, Collins is also yet another child actress on this list, her career beginning when she appeared in the BBC series Growing Pains at a mere two years old. Writing came next as a teenager, contributing articles to Seventeen and The LA Times, amongst others, and her good looks made modeling a natural fit once Collins entered young adulthood. Lately, Collins has been acting more than ever, including a lead role in To the Bone, a film that has been called an “anorexia comedy.” Penned by Buffy the Vampire regular scriptwriter Marti Noxon, the film spoke to Collins personally due to her own struggles with the disease, which she claimed took place about 10 years prior to filming. According to Collins, it was clear Noxon’s film could benefit other people who suffered from similar conditions, explaining both why she wanted the role and how she excelled at it.
8. Molly Sims
For decades now, the Sports Illustrated “swimsuit issue” has been synonymous with the hottest supermodels the world has to offer. As a woman who appeared on no less than five such magazines, Molly Sims was obviously amongst the best of the best, yet the way she tells the story, it probably wasn’t worth what she put her body through to get there. When her modeling career began, Sims says she would constantly starve herself to ensure she was a size 0, sometimes not eating for days in a row. If that weren’t enough to make her body bikini perfect, she would walk 14 miles a day to further fine-tune her lack of curves. While the rest of the world was watching Sims walk down the runway with their jaws dropped, she herself continued to obsess over her image, saying she usually felt she looked “so heavy” in past photo shoots. Now that Sims is a mother of three, her modeling days are behind her, as are her struggles with anorexia. She does still work occasionally, though, both as an actress and humanitarian through the Population Services International’s Five & Alive program and Operation Smile.
Waking up in the morning and feeling like P. Diddy may have made Kesha famous, but as should have been expected, a lifestyle like that isn’t particularly healthy. Neither is brushing one’s teeth with Jack Daniels, another painfully harmful practice Kesha boasted about in her debut single “Tik Tok.” For as omnipresent as Kesha’s music once was, it’s been a few years since she’s released any newsworthy material, largely because of personal problems taking up most of her time. In October 2014, Kesha sued her longtime producer, Dr. Luke, claiming he had systematically abused her in an emotional, physical, verbal, and sexual manner throughout their entire collaboration. Her problems actually started to go public a few months before that, though, when she checked into a rehab clinic to treat an eating disorder. Kesha’s mother attributes her daughter’s bulimia nervosa to her former producer/alleged abuser, claiming Dr. Luke told Kesha she had to lose weight, comparing her body to a refrigerator. Regardless of how one feels about Kesha’s music, metaphors like that have no place in the music industry, especially when they couldn’t be further from the truth.
6. Portia de Rossi
If the average viewer of Ally McBeal heard one of the stars suffered from an eating disorder, they would probably assume it was Calista Flockhart, the series star who was often criticized for her trademark rail-thin look. In fact, the woman suffering from anorexia was Portia de Rossi, whom fans, no doubt, also recognize from Arrested Development, Better Off Ted, and Scandal, plus a number of major films. While de Rossi’s eating disorder was at its worst during McBeal, she had been suffering since her early teens, and unsurprisingly, the problem didn’t end along with the show. The situation got to the point de Rossi weighed a shockingly low 82 lbs, until she was saved by an unlikely source: Ellen DeGeneres
5. Tracey Gold
Though younger readers may not instantly recognize her name, fans of ‘80s sitcoms will surely recall Tracey Gold for her time as Carol Seaver on the series Growing Pains. Unfortunately, such is the nature of this list that her experience filming the show was pretty terrible, which both caused her eating disorder and likely stands as the reason Gold’s star power has harshly diminished since Growing Pains stopped airing. Starting around season four, and for no particular reason, the writers of the show decided to make Carol the brunt of constant fat jokes, which the actress understandably, if misguidedly, took to heart. The mean-spirited mockery continued even as she rapidly shed pounds, dropping from a healthy weight of 133 lbs. to a terrifyingly low 80 lbs. before the series ended. While the series did slightly touch on her problems, they never stopped making fun of her for it until she was suspended due to her now off-putting skeletal appearance. Gold finally began her recovery in earnest when Growing Pains ended.
4. Zoë Kravitz
Being the daughter of a rock star and an actress came with many blatant pros and cons for Zoë Kravitz, spawn of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. On the plus side, Zoë had a first-hand view of the entertainment industry from a very young age, which proved invaluable when she followed in their footsteps as an actress and the frontwoman of her band Lolawolf. Granted, the downside is pretty much the same, that being that she didn’t even need to become a child star for the pressures of Hollywood to affect her very early on. To begin with, her mother was known worldwide for being beautiful, and in her own words, her “dad dated a lot of supermodels.” Seeing drop-dead gorgeous women all around her in her everyday life, Zoë’s somehow developed anorexia, and her bulimia began in high school. She’s gotten much better since then, but it didn’t exactly stop when she graduated. For reasons that should be obvious, albeit also a sign of danger, Kravitz starred in the film The Road Within as a woman with anorexia and nearly fell back into her old habits while preparing for the role. During that period, she slimmed down to a mere 90 lbs.
3. Beverly Johnson
Considering how impactful her career turned out to be, it could be surprising to learn that Beverly Johnson never intended to become a model. Initially, the future cover girl on over 500 magazines wanted to be a lawyer and was studying criminal justice at Northeastern University when spotted by an agent, who talked her into the industry. Three years into her career, Johnson became the first African-American woman to appear on the cover of Vogue, forever changing the landscape for fashion models everywhere. After she opened the door, just about every magazine jumped on the bandwagon of hiring African-American and multiracial models, and Johnson has remained at the forefront of the industry ever since. Outside of modeling, Johnson has also acted in a number of films and TV shows, truly making her a supermodel in every sense of the word. The one downside is that she later claimed to suffer from eating disorders throughout much of her career, problems she additionally claimed were also being experienced by others.
2. Ginger Zee
“Meteorologist” is one of the lower rungs on the entertainment ladder, at least insofar as the glamour aspect is concerned, but that hasn’t stopped women like Ginger Zee from using their energetic presence to dominate the field. For those of us not entirely up to speed in the current weatherperson scene, Zee is the Chief Meteorologist for ABC News and Good Morning America, making her one of the highest profile and most successful women in her industry. Of course, even people uninterested in the weather might know that already, because Zee also wowed fans with slick performances on Dancing with the Stars, in which she and Valentin Chmerkovskiy placed third during the 22nd season. Zee’s life has been pretty great lately, and she herself admitted her body looked “pretty great” on DWTS, yet the fact she had to make the comment wasn’t merely an issue of ego. In fact, Zee hadn’t been so proud of how she looked much earlier in life as she also came forward about her struggles with eating disorders during her childhood. In contrast to the pressures of fame influencing most of this list, Zee felt her condition was mostly due to being depressed and internalizing problems about her parents’ divorce.
1. Zosia Mamet
Being the daughter of a famous playwright/movie director is about the same as having rock stars or actors as parents, something Zosia Mamet would know as David Mamet’s second child with actress Lindsay Crouse. Though Zosia waited until she was older to start her own career in earnest, she wasn’t free from the pressures and struggles of everyday life, including getting called fat for the first time when she was 8 years old. By the time she was 17, Zosia was starving herself on a daily basis, and worse than that, she was terrified to tell anybody about her problems. Years later, after having become famous through her role as Shoshanna Shapiro on Girls, plus guest spots on Mad Men and United States of Tara, Mamet revisited her childhood problems in a blog written for Glamour magazine, highlighting her belief that talking about the problem is key in fixing it. Luckily, Mamet has maintained a healthy body weight since coming forward, in a way proving her point.
Sources: US Magazine, MTV, Health