Sadly, I am all too familiar with eating disorders. I suffered with anorexia nervosa from the age of 14 to 25. I nearly starved myself to death. When I was 15 I hospitalized in a children's psychiatric ward for almost a year.
My illness ripped my family up from the roots, and it's only been in the last year or two that we've been able to re-plant and nourish our relationships. It's been an uphill struggle.
Today I am still dealing with the after effects of those years of starvation. My circulation is messed up, meaning my legs and feet swell horribly if I don't keep them elevated, I have more hair on my body than a gorilla (lanugo grows in a futile attempt to keep the body warm when it's undernourished, and mine has never seemed to go away despite gaining weight...) and I have osteoporosis. I'm 30 years old.
While my experience will have been vastly different than many of the Hollywood stars I will talk about in this article, there will be a lot of things that we will have had in common, including the notorious 'monster in our brains' that told us we were fat and imperfect.
15 Zoe Kravitz - Her Mother's Shadow
When I look at Zoe Kravitz I think to myself, 'hell, what a beautiful, beautiful woman.' But the star went through some hellish experiences on her road to success, including a battle with anorexia and bulimia. Kravitz, who is the daughter of Lisa Bonet and musician Lenny Kravitz, started suffering with eating disorders when she was a teenager, and was plagued by the illnesses into adulthood.
She is known for talking about her experiences in the media, and has said that her illnesses had a lot to do with growing up in the shadow of her famous parents. “My mother’s a beautiful woman, and I think I felt intimidated by that,” she said. "I had a really hard time when I was 16, 17, 18. I started with the eating disorder in high school.”
14 Hillary Duff - Too Obsessed
It will happen sometimes that you will find out about someone who suffered with an eating disorder, and you will be like 'holy shit, I had absolutely no idea!' This is me in the instance of Hillary Duff. When she was a teenager, Duff weighed only 98 pounds. She admits that she was awfully body conscious and obsessed with being skinny.
'When I was 17, I weighed, like, 98 pounds. I was totally obsessed with everything I put in my mouth. I was way too skinny. Not cute. And my body wasn't that healthy - my hands would cramp up a lot because I wasn't getting the nutrition I needed. That constant pressure of wanting something different than I had? I regret that.' Thankfully nowadays her body image is much healthier.
13 Tallulah Willis - Riddled With Self-Loathing
There are occasions when you look at someone and think, 'they just look really nice. I'd love to get to know them better.' Tallulah Willis is one such person. Which is why it makes me so sad that she has suffered so much and for so long.
Willis just 13 years old, when a 'switch flipped,' and she started to hate herself. I know what she's talking about. She said "I thought, I am a hideous, disgusting-looking person."
Tragically, she continued thinking about this all the way through her teens. It was only when her older sister Scout stepped in and she started getting treatment. It was January 2015 when Willis said that she was on the road to recovery. "I can say that I'm getting to that place where I'm starting to feel OK with myself, bit by bit."
12 Mary-Kate Olson - The Pressure
One star I feel connected to in a way, where my experiences with anorexia are concerned, is Mary-Kate Olson. We were suffering at much the same time and I was slightly obsessed with her story.
I can't say it is really surprising that the superstar - along with her sister Ashley the duo are worth $300 million - ended up with an eating disorder. Her life was a media frenzy from practically the moment she was born. The pressure to look and live a certain way would have been immense, beyond anything many of us could ever imagine.
She quietly entered rehab for her eating disorder when she was 17 years old following an intervention by her family. A spokesperson said: “They finally reached the point where they had to act. They didn’t want to find her dead on the floor from not eating.”
11 Lady Gaga - Please Be Proud Of Me
While the majority of us will know Lady GaGa as an advocate for healthy bodies, she hasn't always had a positive view on her own shape and size. Since the age of 15 she's suffered with anorexia and bulimia.
I want to stand up and applaud her bravery and the honesty she uses to talk about her experiences: "My weight loss/gain since I was child has tormented me. No amount of help has ever healed my pain about it...
...But YOU have. My boyfriend prefers me curvier, when I eat and am healthy and not so worried about my looks, I'm happy. Happier than I've ever been. I am not going to go on a psycho-spree because of scrutiny. This is who I am. And I am proud at any size. And I love you, and want you to be proud in any form you may take as well."
10 Christina Ricci - Everyone's Looking
Christina Ricci was my role model when I was a youngster. For obvious reasons! Wednesday Addams was the coolest kid of the 90s! But I was shocked when I found out that Ricci hadn't been able to avoid getting caught up with the disease. She was fortunate in a sense though, because she managed to get help early on.
She said: "Well, I was lucky. I only really suffered from it for about a year and a half. But I was put into therapy very quickly, so I was able to overcome it."
Ricci put it as going through puberty with everyone looking at her. "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."
9 Zosia Mamet - Like Mother Like Daughter
Zosia Mamet who plays the brilliant Shoshanna Shapiro in the fantastic comedy Girls, has opened up that she has been battling with an eating disorder since she was a child. When she was 8 years old she was told that she was fat for the first time, and that was the trigger.
She said "I'm not fat; I've never been fat. But ever since then, there has been a monster in my brain that tells me I am." She also says that her mother's issues with eating and food also played a role in how she viewed her own body.
"I know that my mother's treatment of me stemmed from her own issues with her body. She struggled, so I struggled." It was only after her father intervened that she sought treatment. While she relapsed, Mamet says that today she has reached a healthy weight.
8 Demi Lovato - It's Never Enough
Demi Lovato was just 4 years old when she looked in the mirror and thought that she was fat. From that young age, she felt constantly guilty about her weight. When she was 12 her low self-esteem led her to lose a tremendous amount of weight - but she didn't feel better for it. It was never enough. 'It was an obsession of the mind,' she said.
There were times when she was growing up, that Lovato didn't think that she was going to make it to 21. In 2010 at the age of 18 her parents stepped in and she entered rehab to be treated with bulimia. She's doing better nowadays, but she's brutally honest about the recovery process: 'Recovery doesn’t have a day off...I don’t think there is a finish line I just think you keep going.'
7 Kelly Clarkson - Snap Out Of It
The original 'American Idol' doesn't want to be a part of the skinny Hollywood world, but it hasn't always been like that. When she was a freshman in high school she developed bulimia after losing out on a part in a school musical to a skinnier singer.
She said: “I thought if I came back and I was cuter and thinner — then I’ll get the role. The lesson I took from that was purely superficial, but that’s what I grew up thinking for a long time. It wasn’t smart, and I headed straight into an eating disorder and became bulimic for the next six months.”
Clarkson struggled until her friends realised what was going on, and begged her to get help. Miraculously, she 'went cold turkey' and just 'snapped out of it,' something which I'm all too aware is rarely possible.
6 Kate Winslet - Addicted To Weight Loss
I believe Kate Winslet is one of the most gorgeous actresses to have ever graced our cinema screens. But when she was a teenager, she despised herself, and became hooked on losing weight.
She said: "When I was 15, I was nearly 14 stone. I was uncomfortable and self-conscious. I knew I wanted to be an actress and was big. Over a year I sensibly got down to 10 stone. Then I became addicted to losing weight and went too far." Thankfully she was able to see sense relatively soon and was able to say to herself 'what are you doing?'
Today she regularly talks about weight and while she advocates having a healthy body, she knows how hard it can be. "The whole weight thing drives me crazy. This stuff is so important to me because I have been there and know what a vicious cycle it is."
5 Troian Bellisario - Head on
Troian Bellisario, the star of Pretty Little Liars has, for a long time, been open with talking about her experiences with anorexia as a teenager. The illness was spurred on by her desire to be a Grade A student and please her parents. She also started self-harming when she was just 14. Her quest for perfection almost ended with her losing her life.
She said: “With anorexia, a lot of it is presenting a front of ‘everything is okay’ as you’re slowly killing yourself. Gone were the days when I was just a happy, carefree kid who was running around, and suddenly I felt this inability to interact with people and to nourish myself.”
Bravely, Bellisario made the decision to confront those dark times, and went ahead to write and star in her upcoming film, Feed, which tackles the issue of eating disorders.
4 Ashlee Simpson - Bad Influences
Ashlee Simpson was 11 years old when she first thought to herself that she wasn't good enough, and started to pick at her body. She would go to ballet, and spent a lot of time around girls with eating disorders which naturally increased the pressure to lose more weight. Then more weight. Then more weight. At one point, she stood at 5’2″ but weighed only 70 lbs.
She said: “My parents stepped in and made me eat after about six months of not eating too much at all.” She also insists that the family support helped a lot with her recovery and she sees the problem as something that is 'long past her.' Today she doesn't think it's sexy to 'be a bone, and is happy with her 'womanly curves,' and hates to see girls starve themselves.
3 Snooki - No Food For Three Days
Jersey Shore star Snooki has admitted that when she was in high school she developed an eating disorder, and would go for days without eating. She said: "Cheerleading was my life in high school but it wasn't always easy for me. I started to be anorexic." She loved to be the flyer - the person who the team throws up into the air - but was terrified that younger, fitter, thinner girls would take her place on the cheerleading team.
While she is all about healthy living today, in high school it was another story completely. "I started eating one salad a day, and then it became, like, one cracker a day, and then it became just one grape a day. And then.. just not eating at all for three days. It was a really, really bad time for me."
2 Amanda Bynes - An Unhealthy Goal
It does not happen too often that a star will talk about their eating disorder while they are in the throes of it. But in 2013, former child star Amanda Baynes took to Twitter - where she is known for having bizarre rants - to announce her eating disorder. She said: "I have an eating disorder so I have a hard time staying thin."
At the time, her parents had no idea what to do, as she had cut contact since moving from Los Angeles to New York. She was more than happy about the move she claimed though, and at the time said: "I moved to New York City and I love it! I lost 4 lbs. since I moved. I'm 121 lbs - my goal is 100 lbs." It was months later that she was finally forced into rehab.
1 Fiona Apple - Never Wanted To Be A Target
Perhaps one of the most devastating entries I've had to write here is that of Fiona Apple. When she was 12 years old, Apple was sexual assaulted. She developed anorexia as a result of the abuse. She wanted to get rid of her flesh, strip her body of anything that would make her attractive to other potential abusers.
She said: "I definitely did have an eating disorder. What was really frustrating for me was that everyone thought I was anorexic, and I wasn't. I was just really depressed and self-loathing. For me, it wasn't about getting thin, it was about getting rid of the bait that was attached to my body. A lot of it came from the self-loathing that came from being raped at the point of developing my voluptuousness."
Sources: HuffingtonPost.co.uk, Glamour.co.uk, DailyMail.co.uk, EOnline.com, Today.com, People.com, FemaleFirst.co.uk