As we continue to bring awareness to National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (February 22 – February 28), it is fitting that we highlight some of the more well-known cases of eating disorders that have affected some of Hollywood’s most talented starlets.
Tinseltown is known for its hypercritical attitude toward body image and weight. Female entertainers, by far, bear the sharper brunt of this fierce and oftentimes unfair sword than their male colleagues. From the latest media-bashing of Jessica Simpson to the dissection of Hollywood’s new mom’s post-baby bodies, there is little wonder why as many as 10 million females (and 1 million males) are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia and millions more are struggling with binge eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorder Association.
While no one wants to see anyone suffering from a disorder of any kind, celebrities who have been forthright about their weight struggles open up a dialogue for the rest of us who may be too shamed or too fearful to voice our stories.
Here is a look at the more well-publicized cases of eating disorders in young Hollywood women.
Nicole Ritchie: Before getting pregnant with daughter Harlow, Nicole’s fast-paced party life, filled with alleged drugs and alcohol, forced her weight to plummet to anorexic-levels. Although she has always denied having an eating disorder, her weight dropped dangerously low, putting her health at risk. She now credits her daughter to saving her life, which was very clearly bent toward a path of destruction.
Jamie-Lynn Sigler: James Gandolfini‘s daughter on “The Sopranos,” Sigler is one of the few actresses who publicly admitted to battling eating disorders in order to size down her body to television-friendly proportions.
Paula Abdul: As a dancer and choreographer, Abdul’s petite and muscular frame is not like the stereotypical bodies of ballerinas. To curtail her dissatisfaction with her own body, Abdul resorted to bulimia and exercise to make up for her frequent binges. In 1994, she checked herself into a mental health clinic and still utilizes the food-cop eyes of a nutritionist to keep her fridge and pantry free of trigger foods.
Victoria Beckham: This Spice Girl has admitted to being obsessed with her appearance and is rumored to have suffered from anorexia in her recent autobiography. Under pressure to keep her weight down from her music managers, Victoria (and many of the other Spice Girls) resorted to either anorexia, bulimia or diet pills to lose weight.
Elton John: Just a few years ago, John admitted to 14 years of bulimia where he would gorge on food and then make himself vomit. One of the very few men to come public with an eating disorder, Sir Elton has inspired millions, not just through his music, but for his arduous battle with an eating disorder.
Sharon Obsorne: She has battled colon cancer and her children’s and husband’s addiction to drugs and alcohol, but one thing that Sharon has admitted that she herself cannot truly conquer is her own bulimia, which she has wrestled with for 35 years.
Wynonna Judd: Showing us that eating disorders don’t always show up as anorexia or bulimia, Judd’s severe dependency on food led her to check herself into an eating disorder clinic in 2006. Now as the spokesperson for the weight loss drug Alli, Judd is determined to reach a healthy weight as she keeps her food addiction under control.
Mary-Kate Olsen: In a highly-publicized battle with anorexia, we all watched Mary-Kate dwindle to a mere skeletal frame. In 2004, Olsen checked into a treatment center for her eating issues as well as rumored drug use.
Princess Diana: The late princess warmed the hearts of even more women when she admitted to waging her own war with her weight. As a bulimic for many years of her marriage, she later spoke openly about her battle with food and bulimia before her untimely death.
This list is by no way exhaustive, but rather just a small glimpse of some of the familiar faces of eating disorders.
To learn more about this disease or to seek help, visit the National Eating Disorder Association, an organization committed to stopping and preventing eating disorders.