A startling amount of young celebrities suffer with eating disorders during their lives. The two seem inextricably linked and yet the exact causes of conditions such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa still remain unclear.
Many medical professionals have suggested that factors such as low self esteem, a tendency towards obsessive compulsive behaviour and external pressures to be thin can all act as catalysts.
Anorexia sufferers attempt to starve themselves, whereas bulimics will experience bouts of binge eating followed by purging – be it through vomiting or the consumption of laxatives.
Women are ten times more likely to develop an eating disorder than men, although the number of male cases coming to light is growing.
Certain career styles are more prone to causing the illness and in the fashion and entertainment industry having a slim physique is absolutely essential, no matter the cost.
It is no surprise that these particular professions cause the highest number of female workers falling prey to eating disorders, such is the pressure to be thin and ‘sexy’.
Actress Mary-Kate Olsen battled with anorexia since becoming an adult. She has often spoken of a feeling of inadequacy when living in the shadow of her twin sister Ashley.
“I look in the mirror and I’m like why do you look pretty and I look ugly?”
Shortly after her 18th birthday she lost weight drastically, forcing her family to intervene and in 2004 she was checked into a rehabilitation facility in Utah to deal with her illness.
Talking candidly about her struggle and the lessons she has taken away from it, the socialite remarked: “I think it’s important that what anybody goes through — and I’m not saying that it’s true or not true — you realize it’s part of growing up. Everybody is going to go through hard times. It’s a part of life. I think the hardest part to get to is that point of asking for help or reaching out to other people and being honest with yourself. I do not want to go through my life with my eyes shut. And I don’t want to go through it with a closed mind. I want to be aware of things. And I’d rather know than not know,”
In 2004, having gained 15 pounds and developing a healthier relationship with her body, Mary-Kate reflected upon her experiences: “I’m sure growing up in the public eye wasn’t easy; can you imagine being famous since you were 9 months old? That’s crazy! They can’t even poop or get Starbucks without making headlines.”