There are many different types of eating disorders that people suffer from, and the majority of people think they only affect women. But women aren’t the only sex who are plagued by eating disorders. Sure, most of those with eating disorders are women, women with mental health issues, body dysmorphia issues, but countless men have also suffered the same problems, including some pretty prominent figures.
It’s weird, that in today’s day and age, men speaking about eating disorders is kind of a taboo subject. It’s not very manly, or at least that's what society has made us think, and it's not a thing most men feel comfortable divulging. A lot of people also don’t feel at ease hearing about it. That’s because there’s a stigma associated with eating disorders, especially for guys. But it is a serious mental health disorder, something that could stick with an individual for years, something that ruins lives, and in some devastating cases, ends lives.
Eating disorders ruined the lives of these 15 people for years, but they had the strength to battle through it and overcome their mental illnesses. They’ve since been very frank about their past issues, and have spoken out about what they went through and the tough times they faced. Looking at them now, you’d have no clue they once battled serious eating disorders, which is a testimony to their characters for coming out of those dark times, alive and kicking. These are those 15 celebs who you probably wouldn’t have guessed had battled and overcome eating disorders.
15 Caleb Followill
If you know your music, love your rock, then you’ll know of Caleb Followill. He’s a member of the rock group Kings of Leon and has been their frontman for many years. On stage when he’s rocking away, he looks like quite a dashing figure, but under the surface things were far from pretty.
You’d think that because he’s with one of the world’s top rock bands, that he’d be living that whole rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, that there’d be lots of alcohol, drugs, partying, and sex. A lot of those in rock groups live that kind of lifestyle, and they just can’t get off the wagon or break the cycle. There probably was some of that for Caleb, but he was harboring another secret, one which he revealed in 2008.
He told Q Magazine that he once had anorexia, or manorexia as he and many others call it. It was an image problem; being on stage is all about image as much as it’s about music, so he felt the need to look what he deemed to be beautiful, and he did that by being seriously in control of his weight. He would exercise excessively, drinks tons of coffee, and just did things to keep his hands busy so he wouldn’t have to think about eating, or so he wouldn’t be able to eat. He’s still very body-conscious, but thankfully no longer to that extent.
14 Billy Bob Thornton
Billy Bob Thornton has acquired quite a vast and varied filmography over the years. He’s worked with some of the industry’s top names, and can be considered to be one of them himself, due to all of his accomplishments. He’s also a filmmaker, songwriter, and musician. But despite all of his accomplishments, it was his marriage to Angeline Jolie that propelled him into the limelight. It only lasted a few years, we’re not sure why it broke down, but we do know that in the years before they went their separate ways, Thornton was dealing with his own mental demons. In 1998, he’s said that he developed an eating disorder and battled anorexia. It was around the time he was filming U-Turn, and anyone seeing pictures of him from back then will see that all was not quite right. He suffered for some time, lost 59 lbs, and it must have put a strain on his marriage, and subsequent relationships.
13 Russell Brand
English comedian, actor, radio host, author, and activist, Russell Brand has led a life filled with controversy. He’s never too far away from a bout of controversy, and it always seems to happen on the big stage with Russell. He’s been dismissed because of his behavior from MTV, resigned from the BBC, and has been ridiculed due to his outlandish antics at various award ceremonies over the years. He’s simmered down a bit in recent years, and that’s probably because his mind’s in a clearer place. He’s overcome his drug abuse, and his eating disorder too.
Russell has revealed that he suffered from bulimia at a really young age. At the age of 11, he would binge eat, then vomit everything back up. He realized back then that it was a weird thing to do, but found it euphoric, and so continued in this fashion for some time. He beat it, but began doing the same again when he was in a really low place in his adult life. Now everything’s hunky dory for Russell.
12 Justin Hawkins
Here’s another rock guy who battled with some serious mental demons.
Justin Hawkins is a hardcore guy. He’s a singer-songwriter, and lead guitarist for The Darkness, a heavy metal band. He’s renowned for his stage persona, and for being someone that lives that true rock lifestyle. Alcohol and drugs, he’s done it all, and it became a serious problem for Justin at one stage. He developed a cocaine addiction and went to rehab in the early 2000s, but was battling a number of other problems too; his life was less than rosy. Around the same time as his cocaine addiction, Justin also came clean about his battles with food. He revealed that he was anorexic and was battling bulimia, and all of these problems combined caused serious concerns about the rock star’s health. He’s since overcome these eating disorder demons, and now enjoys a vegan diet, and is back where he belongs, rocking it out on stage.
11 Kit Harington
It may surprise you that Kit Harington’s on this list. He’s known as the handsome hunk on the TV series, Game of Thrones, and looking at his physique, it’d be ludicrous to think that he had an eating disorder, right? Well, he did have an eating disorder, although it’s probably something that a lot of you will scoff at. He didn’t battle with anorexia or bulimia, or anything of that sort. But he was so consumed with his diet and exercising, that it became an eating disorder; he was told by his trainer, and those on the sets with him while he was shooting for Pompeii, that he was taking things way too far.
Most of us struggle to get to the gym and do an hour’s session on a daily basis. But while shooting for that movie in 2014, Kit was in the gym every day, not just for one session, but for three sessions a day. He also became obsessive with his diet and the calories he was consuming and burning off, so much so that his trainer stepped in and gave it to him straight and told him he had an eating disorder and serious body dysmorphia issues.
10 Ron Saxen
Ron Saxen’s been around a bit, and has his hands in many different pies so to speak. He made a name for himself decades ago as a model, then became a prominent name on the comedy scene, doing stand up and comedy writing. He’s also been highly successful in the world of business, and has worked in sales for some of the world’s top companies. During these various ventures, he must have seemed like an awesome dude, someone who had the world at his feet and had everything figured out. But that was far from the case.
He exuded confidence, but on the inside, he was dealing with some serious problems. His eating disorder began when he was a teenager. When he became a model, it was just exacerbated, because of his quest to achieve what he deemed to be the perfect look. He’d binge eat and then essentially abuse himself by exercising until he dropped – which by the way is a form of eating disorder. It wasn’t until many years later that he finally did something about it. He sought help from professionals, the spark was lit, and he was on the road to recovery. He’s since released his own book, basically a book about his struggles with his eating disorder, and today focusses on doing whatever he can to help those in a similar predicament.
9 Daniel Johns
Daniel Johns is another rock star who lived a hardcore lifestyle, and has suffered incredibly as a consequence. The Australian musician and singer-songwriter played for the band Silverchair, and the Australian band, The Dissociatives. He’s regarded to be one of the best guitarists on the planet, but his rise to the top has been far from easy. Throughout his career, Daniel was plagued by various health issues and mental demons which he just hasn’t seemed to shake. He’s revealed that he’s been dealing with depression, and this has coincided with his eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa was the disorder that took a grip over him, and at his worst he weighed in at 110 lbs. He was also dealing with drug addiction, then got hit with the news he had reactive arthritis, and all of this combined made him suicidal. Thankfully he fought off the urge to commit such an act, sought help, and is still on the road to recovery.
8 Reid Ewing
Actor and musician Reid Ewing is one of the youngest people on this list to have suffered – and still does suffer – from an eating disorder. Reid didn’t just suffer from an eating disorder though – he had full-blown body dysmorphia, and that’s led him to do a number of things to his body over the years.
Reid’s probably most famous for starring in the American sitcom Modern Family. He’s been a part of the sitcom since its inception in 2009, and has gained plenty of accolades because of his performances. But during this time, he was battling serious body dysmorphia. He was obsessed with his looks, so much so that at the age of 19, he had cosmetic surgery done, because he felt he needed to look perfect. It didn’t go well, and he developed depression, and sunk into a hole of self-hate and loathing. This was confounded by the fact he had eating disorders, OCD, and his overall state of mind was just a mess.
7 Brian Cuban
10-15% of people who are diagnosed with anorexia are men, and Brian Cuban was one of them. Most of these people also suffer with bulimia – they go hand in hand – and that’s something that Brian’s also dealt with over the years.
For those of you who don’t know Brian Cuban, he’s an American attorney, author, and activist. However, to many people, he’s known for speaking out about eating disorders, being interviewed on the issue, and sharing his troubles in the effort to help others who’ve been going down the same path.
Brian was a big guy in college, but thought of himself as fat. That’s when his eating disorder began to take a hold of him. He would stick his fingers down his throat and make himself throw up, something which he felt to be incredibly normal, the most natural thing in the world. He eventually realized it was wrong, but because of the shame and stigma, didn’t get help immediately. It took him around three decades to finally tell the world what he deemed to be his “dirty little secret,” and by his own admission, he’s lucky to be alive.
6 Uri Geller
Uri Geller is another guy who’s spoken regularly about his problems with food and eating disorders.
The world-famous magician has been around the world wowing people with his stunning illusions and magical feats for over four decades, and over this time all seemed well. But things were far from rosy between his ears. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia had taken a hold of him, and he struggled with these eating disorders for much of his adult life.
He’s described binging and pursuing perfection to be a drug. He first got that rush when he was in the toilets of a plush hotel in New York, had just consumed a load of cake, and just felt that it was right to bring it all back up. He felt he had beaten everything, had the pleasure of eating cake without having to deal with the pain of burning it off. He then began to do the same thing after every meal, but when it got to the point where he no longer had the strength to stand, he revealed his secret and sought help.
Eminem is arguably one of the greatest rappers who’s ever lived. He’s a superstar, plain and simple, but his life hasn’t been one of all glitz and glamor. He’s led a very troubled life and has had to deal with plenty of stuff, and it eventually took its toll on the rap superstar.
Eminem developed a drug addiction when he was filming 8 Mile. He was given Ambien to help him sleep, and by the end of the production, he was hooked on the stuff, but had also added Vicodin and Valium into the mix. He would come into the studio with a ton of pills and pop them for fun. That’s also when he became a fast food junkie; he’d stuff his face with fast food and ballooned up to 230 lbs. After a hospitalization and being moments away from dying, he decided to get sorted. He began running in an effort to beat his addiction, but Eminem has an addictive personality, and so soon became addicted to pounding away on the treadmill. That’s when he developed an eating disorder. He was running 17 miles a day and became obsessed with calorie counting. “I became a f—king hamster,” as he so eloquently puts it. Elton John mentored him during this period and helped him get through it, because he’s another guy who’s been there, as you’ll discover in a bit.
4 Ashley Hamilton
Ashley Hamilton is another guy who’s tried his hand at many different things over the years. Acting, singing and song writing, and taking a stab at comedy – Ashley’s done it all, and has tasted quite a bit of success too. Notice a pattern emerging here, how it’s always these super-busy guys that tend to develop eating disorders? I’m no psychologist, but I’m guessing most would say they're embarking on all these ventures to try and distract their minds from the problems they’re facing.
The Iron Man actor has dealt with a number of issues over the years. He battled drug and alcohol abuse, got clean, but when he was on the road to recovery, clean for six months, he realized he had developed another serious problem. “I suffered from bulimia and anorexia. I believe it was my problem before I got into drugs and alcohol. I used the drugs and alcohol to control the food addiction,” he told PEOPLE magazine. He’s sought help, but unfortunately, even today he's still not better. He still struggles, but hopefully he’ll one day beat those mental demons and overcome his eating disorder.
3 John Prescott
Most people who suffer from eating disorders do so when they’re quite young, at least before they hit 50. But John Prescott developed bulimia when he was way past the half century mark. It consumed his life for over a decade, and he eventually managed to beat it on his own.
For those of you who aren’t aware who John Prescott is, he’s a British politician, most famous for his role as the Deputy Prime Minister, a position he held for a decade, under Tony Blair. During that period, he used to be targeted by people, and the media, because of his weight. He’s always been on the bigger side, which is why people were shocked when he revealed he had bulimia. Although bulimia and anorexia often go hand in hand, they are two different things; Prescott suffered from one, not the other.
Soon after his role as Deputy Prime Minister came to an end, he bravely revealed his problems. He said he would eat through an entire restaurant menu, “eat trifles forever,” then bring everything back up. He was doing this for a seriously long time. It began in the 80s, but got worse in 1997 when he became Tony Blair’s deputy. When he went to his doctor, he was told it was most likely down to stress. He’s since received treatment, exercises regularly, and has control over his eating habits and his disorder.
2 Gregg Valentino
Most people who have eating disorders suffer from either anorexia or bulimia. The majority of these people have body dysmorphia issues, meaning they consider themselves to be fat, bigger than they actually are, and develop such eating disorders in an effort to lose weight. I said most, but not all – eating disorders aren’t just about wanting to lose weight. For some, their quest to gain weight could lead to the development of an eating disorder. That’s what happened in Gregg Valentino’s case.
Now, of course, I’m not saying that Gregg got massive just by eating tons of food; he’s openly admitted – not that he needed to, because it’s pretty obvious – that he was a steroid user. But he also suffered from bigorexia, a compulsion to get bigger and bigger. It’s pretty much the opposite of anorexia, and Gregg – former world record holder for having the largest arms in the world – suffered with it for decades, before health problems and other issues meant getting huge was no longer his primary concern.
1 Elton John
Elton John is arguably the greatest singer-songwriter and pianist that’s ever lived. He’s one of the world’s best-selling artists, everyone knows his name and his music. It therefore wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that everything was roses in Elton John’s household. But that was far from the case. On the outside Elton may exude confidence, but on the inside, in his head, he’s been battling many different issues during the course of his career. He had bulimia for 16 years, which he had alongside his cocaine and alcohol addictions, before he decided he had to get help. An extract from his book just about sums up his state of mind during that period: "My hair was white, my skin pale. I was bloated and gorged. I looked tired, sick and beaten. I looked horrible. It was almost too much to take. I had been overcome by addiction; I was completely out of control. I looked, quite frankly, like a piano-playing Elvis Presley. As messed up as I've ever been. There was no question: I was going to change, or I was going to die."
Elton’s one guy who’s raised a ton of public awareness regarding how eating disorders can affect men. Him revealing his issues has helped many others do the same, and inspired people to overcome such addictions.
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