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A healthy self-image is a key component for mental well being. In an era when self-worth is more often based on appearance rather than social contributions or personal achievement, however, it’s difficult to maintain a realistic perspective on our own sense of self.
This is especially true for people, like athletes or celebrities that work in the public spotlight.
Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are eating disorders caused by severe distress or concern about bodyweight or shape.
There is a serious stigma attached to eating disorders despite the fact that an estimated 24 million people of all genders, races and ages suffer from anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder in the United States.
Eating disorders account for the highest rates of mortality among all mental illnesses, according to the Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).
Individuals with Anorexia see themselves as overweight even when they’re obviously underweight.
In an obsessive effort to control their appearance, people with this disorder may limit themselves to small quantities of certain foods, weigh themselves repeatedly, over exercise or abuse laxatives. The physical consequences of untreated anorexia can be fatal.
Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge eating, feeling out of control, and compensating by purging or forced vomiting, excessive exercise, and fasting or laxative abuse.
Many people with bulimia do not appear underweight, and might in fact be a bit overweight. Their intense fear of gaining weight, however, can fuel damaging behavior that can lead to serious health issues.
Here are 8 Celebrities That Suffered from Anorexia or Bulimia
1. Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga, a six-time Grammy award winner, recently launched Body Revolution to, in her words, inspire bravery and compassion.
2. Dennis Quaid
Dennis Quaid sought treatment for anorexia after getting down to 138 pounds for his role as Doc Holliday in the 1994 film “Wyatt Earp.”
3. Kate Beckinsale
Kate Beckinsale, SAG Award winner, struggled with anorexia from age 15, and blamed her disorder on a chaotic childhood. She has since overcome her eating disorder.
4. Elton John
Elton John, the legendary singer/songwriter, sought treatment for bulimia and cocaine addiction in 1990, after suffering for 16 years.
5. Katie Couric
Katie Couric, “Today Show” host and news anchor, battled bulimia throughout college and after. “You’re full of self-loathing, and then you punish yourself,” Couric says of her disorder.
6. Russell Brand
Russell Brand, actor and comedian, admitted to binge eating and vomiting by age 11. Later in life he sought treatment for a myriad of addictions and has been in recovery for more than 10 years.
7. Sally Field
Sally Field, Oscar Award winner, battled bulimia and anorexia in her 20s, losing 10 to 15 pounds in a week, and then binge eating to compensate. The actress noted that had she not overcome her disorder, “…I would have been in grave danger.
8. Allegra Versace
Allegra Versace, daughter of Donatella Versace and heir to the Versace, fashion empire, suffered from anorexia. She still has not spoken openly about her battle, which was made public by her family, but said in an interview, “Above all, I wanted one thing – to be no one.”
Anorexia and bulimia are diseases, not weaknesses.
There is no shame in being sick, and seeking help. It’s common to compare and judge ourselves against what the popular media portrays as beauty.
Keeping a healthy perspective on the positive aspects of our lives, though, helps maintain a strong sense of self.
Allegra Versace photo courtesy of the Herald Sun