7 April 2008Celebrities, Features
In Hollywood, being thin is of paramount importance. The accusation of having an eating disorder could be (and has been) made of the majority of females on the big and small screen. And, in some regards, who can blame them? Normal figures are criticized at every turn as being overweight – anything over a size 4 is considered “heavy.” With pressure coming from journalists, agents, movie producers, and fans, many celebrities have gone to dramatic lengths to shed the pounds. Here are a few who have admitted to having issues with food.
- Nicole Richie: Nicole Richie, who became famous for being Paris Hilton’s best friend, has denied time and time again that she has an eating disorder. But after appearing on the first two seasons of The Simple Life, Richie, allegedly responding to the comparison of her figure next to Hilton’s, quickly lost a stunning amount of weight. Seemingly overnight, she went from a healthy 120 pound female to an 85 pound waif. Despite the public outcry over her emaciated frame, Richie maintained she did not have an eating disorder. But in 2006, she started seeking treatment saying she couldn’t put on weight, and she also admitted that she thought she was too thin. Today, Richie looks much healthier, though still very slim, after the birth of her first child in January.
- Felicity Huffman: This thin star of Desperate Housewives has been very forthcoming about her own struggles with bulimia and anorexia, which occurred when the actress was in her teens and 20s. At one point, the 5-foot-5-inch actress dropped down to 98 pounds. Huffman, who is married to actor William Macy, said she spent a lot of time during her earlier years “throwing up and figuring out what kinds of foods you can throw up and what kinds you can’t.” Huffman credits a therapist and the support of her husband for bringing her through the ordeal and helping her to restore a healthy body image. She now works out with a trainer and maintains a healthy diet.
- Tracy Gold: Star of the popular TV show Growing Pains, Tracy Gold spent much of her early career looking like the girl next door and weighing a healthy 133 pounds. But during the 1990s, Gold underwent a bodily transformation, losing over 40 pounds and starving herself to well below 100 pounds. Observers were shocked, and Gold’s battle with anorexia was so apparent to her friends, family, and the public that Gold went on more than one trip to a therapist to seek treatment for the disorder. In 1991, Gold was suspended from Growing Pains for being so thin – reports said she weighed about 80 pounds at her lightest. At one point, Gold said she looked in the mirror and thought she was looking at “death.” After her recovery, Gold became a spokeswoman for anorexia, writing a book about her battles and starring in a miniseries about the illness.
- Allegra Versace: The 20-year-old daughter of Donatella Versace has been a walking skeleton for many years now, appearing alongside her mother at events with bones sticking through her skin. Though the family initially denied that anything was wrong, the proof was too evident to refute. In 2007, Allegra entered out patient treatment at UCLA and has since filled out a little and looks healthier. Allegra is the major inheritor of her uncle Gianni Versace’s fashion empire and is valued at more than $500 billion.
- Fiona Apple: Fiona Apple’s music career took off with the release of her first album Tidal. In the video for her song Criminal, Apple appears emaciated and clad in underwear singing to the camera. She has since been criticized by many for that video, most notably by comedienne Janeane Garofalo, who say that Apple was a hypocrite for denouncing Hollywood’s equation of thinness with beauty and then being so thin herself. At the time the video was shot, Apple weighed a measly 95 pounds and admitted to having anorexia, which she said she developed after being raped when she was 12 by an intruder at her mother’s house in New York City. Though still thin, Apple said she has purposefully tried to put on weight to be a better role model for girls.
- Katherine McPhee: The American Idol star came forward about her five year struggle with bulimia while she was on the show. During the height of her illness, McPhee admitted that she would throw up sometimes seven times a day. When she made it onto Idol, McPhee said she started to realize that her purging habit could potentially ruin her voice and her shot at stardom. She checked into a three month long treatment program with the support of her parents and then-boyfriend, now-husband, Nick Cokas. She successfully completed the program and says she is now the healthiest she’s ever been. She now practices what she calls “intuitive eating,” a program that teaches recovering bulimics and anorexics that no food is bad. Today McPhee is married and working on her solo music career.
- Mary Kate Olsen: Mary Kate Olsen and her twin sister Ashley are some of the richest young celebrities out there. They’ve been famous since they were babies and starred on the TV sitcom Full House. Growing up they starred in countless DVD movies and launched their own clothing line. But in 2003 and 2004, Mary Kate began drawing attention to herself when she started appearing at movie premiers looking gaunt and rail-thin. Despite months of public denials, including a Saturday Night Live skit where she made fun of her thin frame, Mary Kate entered treatment in Utah for anorexia and successfully completed the program. Though she looks healthier since entering treatment, Olsen is still pretty slim and has not been very forthcoming about her issues with food.
- Paula Abdul: Now known best for her crazy antics and gig as one of the judges on American Idol, Abdul used to have a pretty successful music career of her own back in the early 1990s, and she was also once a L.A. Lakers cheerleader. But behind the scenes, Abdul battled a nasty case of bulimia that plagued her for 17 years. Abdul told a prime time news show in 1995 that she always viewed herself as short and fat and believed that she hid behind bulimia as a way to inflict punishment on herself. When she decided to confront her issue once and for all, Abdul entered psychiatric treatment and has since adopted healthy eating habits.
- Princess Diana: Princess Diana broke tradition in many ways during her time as royalty. One of her taboo admissions was discussing her struggle with bulimia publicly. Speaking about her difficult adjustment to life as a Princess, Diana said she initially couldn’t understand the public’s interest in her, since she always felt like a “fat, chubby kid.” While also admitting to self-injury in other forms, Diana described bulimia in this way, “You inflict it upon yourself because your self-esteem is at a low, and you don’t think you’re worthy or valuable. You fill your stomach up four or five times a day – some do it more – and it gives you a feeling of comfort.” Diana said she would purge several times a day, and that the people around her were not very supportive to her cries for help. She suffered for several years before stopping.
- Oprah Winfrey: Overeater Oprah Winfrey has had a lifelong struggle with weight gain and yo-yo dieting, and she has lost and gained a significant amount of weight many times during her career as a talk show host. At her heaviest she weighed 237 pounds. In fact, during her early days, her weight caused her to lose TV jobs and earn the ire of many bosses. Now, Oprah focuses on living a healthy lifestyle, which she espouses through her show. Though she still has weight fluctuations, Oprah exercises every day and has made a commitment to healthy eating by working with health guru Bob Greene.
- Karen Carpenter: One of the most successful singers of the 1970s, Karen Carpenter began seriously dieting in 1967 when her doctor put her on a water diet, causing her to lose 20 pounds off her 5-foot-4-inch frame. She dropped to 115 pounds and was encouraged by the positive feedback she received. The initial weight loss would be just the beginning of Carpenter’s downward spiral. Over the next decade, Carpenter ravaged her body by taking unnecessary thyroid pills, overdosing on laxatives and starving herself. At her lowest moment, she weighed only 85 pounds. At the age of 32, her body finally gave out, and she died of cardiac arrest at her California home.
- Wynonna Judd: Country music star Wynonna Judd has had her ups and downs in the spotlight, including a failed marriage and a DUI arrest. Her weight has also gone up and down in the spotlight, and Judd entered treatment for an overeating disorder in 2006 that caused her to balloon to larger than a size 18. Judd blames her dependence on food on the fact that she sustained sexual abuse at a child and learned in adulthood that she and sister Ashley Judd had different fathers. But this year, Judd publicly supported as spokeswoman the National Association on Eating Disorders’ ‘Embrace Your Genes’ campaign, a campaign that urges women to feel comfortable in their skin and give away the jeans that don’t fit them anymore. In a TV interview, Judd said, “Unfortunately, in my 20s and 30s I spent so much time trying to just be loved and accepted. I spent a lot of time reacting to the pressures of the world. I think when you hit 40, you go, ‘You know what, I’m not gonna do that to myself anymore.”
- Sharon Osbourne: Wife of drug and alcohol addicted Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne comes off like one tough woman. She’s survived cancer, her husband trying to kill her in a drunken rage, and a painful childhood. She’s also had every plastic surgery procedure known to man and has even had her stomach stapled shut in an attempt to “cure” her overeating and bulimia disorders. As recently as 2004, however, Osbourne has said that the operation didn’t work quite like she had hoped and that she still purged frequently, even to her family’s knowledge. She has said that she intends to get help, but whether she has finally conquered the disease or not has yet to be revealed.
- Lara Flynn Boyle: Lara Flynn Boyle has sustained years of speculations that she has an eating disorder. Pictures of her skeletal figure have long graced the pages of magazine covers with shocking headlines and photos of her bony frame in a bikini. In 2003, she was the talk of the town when she showed up emaciated in a ballerina costume to the Golden Globes. In the days since then, Boyle has managed to put on enough weight to at least cover her protruding bones, but still denies she’s ever had an issue with food.
- Victoria Beckham: Posh Spice admitted that she had an eating disorder for some time in her biography Learning to Fly. She said that she was “obsessed” with dieting and with how her body looked and that she got turned on to taking extreme measures from fellow Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, who counseled Beckham to start consuming liquid meals in the early days when the girl band was being pressured by their managers to be super thin. But while she admits to toying with anorexia and extreme dieting in the past, Beckham admits nothing about the present, despite the fact that she is as bony and thin as she has ever been at any point in her career. Today Beckham credits that with a healthy, disciplined diet high in fish and vegetables.