Thandie Newton almost wasted away with bulimia

Thandie Newton

Zambian-born Hollywood star Thandie Newton has always been open about her bulimia. The eating disorder affected her life at the tender age of 14 when she was training to be a ballerina. Her struggle lasted a year and left her scarred both physically and mentally.

I had terrible bulimia for about a year … I ate nothing but cottage cheese. I’ve still got the scars on my knuckles from where I put my fingers down my throat.”

After that year she put it to rest and lived a moderately normal life but it reared its ugly head in her early 20s.

I’d been involved with this guy for a long time, he was much older than me and I felt a lot of shame about my sexual relationship with him.”

I would have these dinners with him and then go back to the flat and I’d throw up. Then I went out with someone who was emotionally abusive, criticizing me the whole time.”

Thandie Newton looking very thin

Thandie Newton looking very thin

After two abusive relationships she realized it was time to seek help; that living with an eating disorder would only lead her to more misery.

While working on a film shoot in Los Angeles she enlisted the help of a therapist.

I saw a therapist for the first time,” she said. “After that first session, I never threw up again. I had made the connection between shame and self abuse.”

This ‘Mission: Impossible II’ actress successfully recovered from bulimia through the initial therapy and then with support and determination. After working herself into super slim looks she fell into a healthy relationship and has developed a love of children.

I keep getting pregnant. So one day I’m slim and the next I have a bump. In the last two years my body has changed so much. I think the Hollywood size is a bad thing. I don’t stick to any diets. I eat when I’m hungry. Thankfully I have my mother’s frame and I’ve always been slim.”

Today, leading a wonderful and healthy life, Thandie is working hard on her films and motherhood and when asked about her self-perception she cheerfully replies: “I see a happy, defiant, loving friend.”


Stephanie Pratt flaunted bulimia in front of her mom

Stephanie Pratt in 'The Hills'

Stephanie shot to fame through her role in the hit TV series ‘The Hills’ but during that time she caved in to public opinion and that led to a period of her life struggling with a return of bulimia; an illness she suffered with as a child.

As a young girl her parents were very conservative and she flaunted her problems in front of them without them ever noticing, knowing that there would be little chance of them working things out.

My mom and dad were very hands-on parents. They were never on vacations or anything like that, and I did everything right under their noses — I did drugs, I threw up my food — in the same house as them. And for them to never see that, my mom was just like, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ”

The ‘Hills’ star wanted to share her problems as they are being mirrored in so many young women who live apparently ‘normal’ lives and who are not subject to the pressures of the media limelight.

If she had known the signs of what to look for, I could have been helped a lot earlier,” she said about her mother.

I’m so thankful I got professional help and I’m healthy now, but I just really wanted to do this to help all of those moms to see those signs in their daughters. [Bulimia is] such an ugly, ugly word. I wish I could have danced around it and said I had eating issues, but this isn’t an article for me to shine.”

Stephanie Pratt displaying weight loss

Stephanie Pratt displaying weight loss spared rumours of eating disorders

The rumour mill went into overdrive about her eating disorders after Stephanie, the sister of Spencer Pratt (who is married to Heidi Montag), joined the cast of a reality TV show.

Although not officially confirmed that she suffered a relapse of her bulimia she was quoted as saying at the time: “I can’t believe how huge I look walking over to Lauren.’”

There were indications that she was unhappy with her body and these clues fuelled the fires for plenty of publications to have a field day. She reportedly once said: “It’s embarrassing working with skinny girls.”

After some help from her friends and family she has come to terms with herself and is now living a much healthier lifestyle.

Sally Field became bulimic after joining the Hollywood crew

Sally Field is all smiles after overcoming bulimia

During the early years of her career critically acclaimed actress Sally Field was struggling to live with bulimia. She realises that the illness began in her early 20s and it continued to dog her for a further three years.

The pressure of being around so many slimmer actresses weighted heavy on her mind and that sowed the seeds of her disorder

Everybody then was Twiggy, except me.”

A young Sally Field before her brush with eating disorders

A young Sally Field before her brush with eating disorders

The actress who featured in popular TV show the ‘Flying Nun’ and in the ”Smokey and the Bandit’ films where she starred alongside Burt Reynolds used to binge on balloons and candy during the filming of the popular 1960s show.

She became concerned when she drastically lost weight and the eating disorder converted her healthy body into a fragile one.

I was losing so much bone density that I would have been in grave danger. And I mean grave danger. If I had let it go just a few more years I could have broken my hip or spine just picking up my granddaughter.”

Sally’s battled with bulimia and anorexia didn’t leave her body unharmed and in a candid interview with People magazine she told them: “I would lose 10 or 15 pounds in a week, eating nothing but cucumbers and working all day. My hands would shake all the time, and sometimes I’d pass out. But then I would go on these enormous binges. I lived alone and was very lonely.”

She eventually returned to a normal lifestyle and with it came the realisation that that no-one can judge your body and that to be swayed by the opinion of others is complete counterproductive to a healthy state of mind.

It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes.”

Though Sally, 63, now suffers from osteoporosis, she is on a normal and healthy diet so as to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Russell Brand battled addictions and bulimia

russell brand as a young and chubby man

Russell Brand is a name associated with wit, charm and a scruffy hair do atop skin-tight pants. The quirky and oh-so intellectual comedian and TV presenter is also a terrific humanitarian.

His struggles with addiction are well known and he actively seeks to help others in their pursuit of ‘cleanliness’. With a broken marriage, substance addiction and he pressure of celebrity weighing down on him, Russell is incredibly bright in his outlook, but what many people don’t realise is that he also suffered with bulimia.

I was bulimic when I was 14,”

I had problems with food and self-harming, I’ve always had these odd compulsive traits looking for an outlet.

Growing up as an overweight only child, Russell says his battle with bulimia was greatly affected by his isolation and it returned with aplomb as he entered adulthood.

Russell Brand after his battle with sex, drugs and bulimia

Russell Brand after his battle with sex, drugs and bulimia

It’s awful to be bulimic but I lost a whole lot of weight when I needed to.”

I was a fat kid, not obese but chubby.”

He says he feels sorry for the child he once was and it became evident to him that he never really dealt with the eating disorders the first time round.

I didn’t master the bulimia, obviously.”

Of course I’ve been through lots of therapy. But I do feel a sense of ‘you poor little sod’. I loved my mum madly, but I had a lot of prohibiting, inhibiting things around. My feeling about my childhood was that it was lonely and difficult.”

He spoke of the return of his bulimia which happened when he was in rehab for drug addictions: “It was clearly about getting out of myself and isolation. Feeling inadequate and unpleasant.”

Now, as one of The UK’s most prominent comedians and a burgeoning Hollywood actor, he is turning his life into one success story after another, a process that doesn’t happen by accident. He works hard at improving himself and is always keen to share his insights to help others. Green tea and yoga have replaced the drugs, booze and sex and Russ is looking like a truly inspirational human being; a perfect example of the human desire to improve and grow spiritually.

Paula Abdul battled bulimia for years

Paula Abdul

Famous American dancer, recording artist and American Idol judge, Paula Abdul, admits her life is a perfect learning example to anyone suffering from bulimia. Known for her great dance moves, figure hugging outfits and a string of 80s hits including, “What have you done for me lately?” she enojyed critical acclaim in the public eye but away from the glare, lurking in the shadows she quietly battled against bulimia.

She used to binge eat for short periods before purging however possible, a process which lasted for 17 long years.

Battling bulimia has been like war on my body. Me and my body have been on two separate sides. We’ve never, until recently, been on the same side.”

She says she always saw herself as a little too short and fat, and claims that her eating disorder was a punishment for her body. She was a constant source of disappointment to herself and when eventually speaking openly about it she said, “I learned at a very early age I didn’t fit in physically. I learned through years of rejections from auditions…. I would ask myself, “Why can’t I be tall and skinny like the other dancers?”

Paula Abdul had a torrid time with bulimia

Paula Abdul had a torrid time with bulimia

Years after overcoming bulimia, Paula reflected on those horrendous times: “It became a living hell for me. I wanted to get help. I want to be free from weighing myself on the scales”.

I used to be a fanatic. I used to exercise four or five times a day.

Now it’s different. I don’t exercise too much for the wrong reasons. Three times a week I’ll do some cardiovascular or aerobic activity.”

She sought treatment in 1994 opting to take psychiatric treatment to end the 17 years of ‘living hell’. She spent a solid month in treatment after which she began the slow process of healing.

Always her own harshest critic she reflects on her time in rehab where she had a series of epiphanies: “I thought `God I’m not perfect. I’m going to disappoint people. That’s what I thought.”

But nowadays looking in the mirror is no longer a traumatic affair and her issues about her height and weight are a thing of the past.

I have my moments when I look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m okay.’ I refuse to weigh myself. I don’t have scales in my house”.

Kate Beckinsale was anorexic from age 15

Kate Beckinsale

The life of famous actress Kate Beckinsale has been a rough ride in some aspects. Before she stepped into the acting profession she was battling anorexia from the age of 15. Speaking openly to the media about her severe anorexia the ‘Underworld’ actress said: “I believe anorexia, alcoholism and drug abuse in teens are more about what is happening in the home than a problem with images in the media. It is the nice girl’s way of becoming a crack whore.”

That statement sent waves of anger crashing back at her as many parents of anorexic teens threw the ‘role model’ card at her, stating that someone in her position should be more responsible and thoughtful.

The star of ‘Serendipity’ dropped down to a mere 70 pounds and underwent various forms of therapy to overcome the destructive disorder.

Explaining the ill effects of living with anorexia she said: “I got to the stage where I think I was about to die. I had no energy and my main goal was to be able to stand up. Finally I realized I had to choose between being a person or a professional anorexic.”

Blaming her family life as being the reason for her eating disorder, Kate emphasized the point that a disturbed family life is a major reason for anyone to fall victim to anorexia; a common reason shared by many anorexics – that personal environmental issues cause many disorders.

Kate Beckinsale lingerie

How come so many women with body hang-ups like Kate Beckinsale pose for these types of picture?

I always felt that anorexia was the form of breakdown most readily available to adolescent girls but I am a lot more body confident now I’m in my thirties, and in better shape too. If someone turns up with cupcakes mid-afternoon, I’ll have one. And I’d hate to be one of those people who won’t allow themselves a slice of birthday cake.”

But talking about her life as an anorexic she said: “I (wish) I had had a sensible magazine article to have read at the time from someone who was actually intelligent. I never really talked about that, actually. (But) when I was around 22 or 23, I decided I’d mention it because I decided I was one of the few people I knew who had that problem who didn’t remain a freak about it.”

Although her family were at the heart of her problems, their support was pivotal in her recovery. They stood by her through five years of therapy and truly helped her come to terms with it.

Expressing her hatred at being called anorexic, she said: “People keep asking me about it but I don’t want to be famous for being a former anorexic.”

Jessica Alba's long fight against eating disorders

Jessica Alba looking not-so-skinny in her swim wear

In the sinfully “perfect” world of television and cinema, many actresses suffer from eating disorders and Jessica Alba will be among the first to put up her hand and admit she privately battled against anorexia.

Like so many before her she was made painfully aware of her body shape by exposure to the media and the comments from the public conflicted heavily with her usual lifestyle. She began cooking for herself at a young age because she didn’t want to be like the rest of her family and had a happy relationship with her food, safe in the knowledge that she wouldn’t become overweight.

Everyone in my family is heavily overweight and I wanted to be healthier, so I started cooking for myself when I was 12.“

But the obsession with her body continued to spiral, particularly when she preparing for ‘Dark Angel’, which rocketed her to fame and in which she looked the healthiest since her career exploded. The ‘Fantastic Four’ actress was so obsessed with looking good for the role that she was working out for 3 hours every day and seriously cutting back on her eating.

Jessica Alba as 'Max' in ark Angel

Her weight dropped to 100 pounds and at that point she had her moment of realisation and acknowledged that she had a problem.

In an interview with Glamour Magazine in 2005, Jessica said: “A lot of girls have eating disorders, and I did too. I got obsessed with it. When I went from a girl’s body to a woman’s body with natural fat in places, I freaked out. It makes you feel weird, like you’re not ready for that body”.

She has since made name for herself as one of the sexiest actresses in Hollywood and has become a lust magnet for hopeful but woefully misguided men. But for someone with such hang-ups about their body she has been quick to take roles that require her to undress (to a certain degree), or at least play the object of desire as evidenced in Sin City; her opening scene as a slinky pole dancer magnetizing the gaze of drunken and randy men. Her other films include ‘Into The Blue’ and ‘Honey’.

Now the mother of Honor Marie, Jessica married producer Cash Warren in 2007 and is still working on ‘Sin City 2’.

Elton John battled ego and bulimia

Elton John

Pop legend Elton John is among many celebrities who have been into rehabilitation for treatment, but unlike most he went in for treatment of two issues simultaneously.

After cleaning himself up he spoke openly about his private battles in an interview in 1992. Elton explains his reasons for entering rehab to the Chicago Sun-Times.

It really was Elvis Presley time again,” he said. “[Pop] isn’t a normal life. You get cut off from people, isolated. It’s easy to lose your values and self-respect. I got to where I didn’t know how to speak to someone unless I had a nose full of cocaine. Nothing could satisfy me. I used to complain about everything, right down to the colour of the private jet.

I had to change because I was frightened,” he added. “I didn’t want to die angry and bitter and sad, and that’s what I had become, physically ugly, spiritually ugly, a slob, a pig.”

He felt that it was ultimately time to take control of his life again back in 1990. Getting help, however, wasn’t as easy as he imagined as at the time there were no clinics in Los Angeles that would treat patients who wanted to battle addiction and bulimia.

Elton John first had to battle his ego to overcome bulimia

Elton John first had to battle his ego to overcome bulimia

I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘You mean, I finally decide to seek help and they’re telling me no one will accept me?’”

After some in-depth searching he found a clinic in Chicago that was happy to treat him but admits that entering rehab is when the hard work really began for him. The biggest problem he faced was his ego; a proud stubbornness that became an obstacle to his progress because he couldn’t tolerate being told what to do.

I tried to run away twice because of authority figures telling me what to do,” he said. “I didn’t like that, but it was one of the things I had to learn.

I packed my suitcase on the first two Saturdays, and I sat on the sidewalk and cried. In the end, I knew there was really no choice. I realized this was my last chance.”

He had a very high profile friend back then who also suffered with bulimia – Diana, Princess of Wales – and in an interview with CNN in 2002, Larry King asked the singer whether he knew Lady Diana was bulimic.

Yes, I did,” he replied. “We were both bulimic.”

Elton is back to enjoying life more than ever. Looking back on his troublesome time, he told the Chicago Sun-Times: “Despite all the success, I think I just wanted to be loved. I wanted someone to love me.”


Lady Gaga Wants You to Join the Body Revolution

Lady Gaga piling on the pounds

As role models go there is a vastly divided opinion on Lady Gaga. Sure, she’s done a lot to try and help young, disenfranchised people find their place in the universe and been an advocate for anti-suicide and depression, but her methodology is questionable as she has a budget and backroom team that most of her ‘little monsters’ could only dream of.

Her latest venture though is an admirable one. Having come under criticism for an off the cuff remark on twitter in which she posted the hash tag #PopStarsDontEat, she has hit back by starting the ‘body revolution’; an idea that she hopes will inspire people to be comfortable in the skin they inhabit.

Her track record of attention seeking shenanigans doesn’t help her cause and it’s easy to say “I had an eating disorder” so that all those suffering with the same problem suddenly see you as a saint or saviour, but if she gets this right she could actually do more good for raising awareness of eating disorders then harm.

She recently posted pictures of herself in her undies with the caption “I’ve battled Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15.”

Lady Gaga in her undies

Lady Gaga in her undies aimed at encouraging her fans to love themselves

It appears the media have gotten to her of late and the picture comes in response to criticism of her weight gain; 25 pounds according to her, of which she claims not to care. And so she shouldn’t because journos are fickle and so is she. What might seem like a big issue now will probably be swept under the carpet in a few months when she has a new bone to bite on.

The danger of celebrities highlighting eating disorders is that they often trivialise them by suggesting they had an eating disorder but got over it after a moment of clarity. The truth of it is that if you suffer with an eating disorder you generally suffer with it for life unless you can find help for it, because the problem isn’t with diet but with the mind.

Yes, eating disorders are a mental illness.

So is this another opportunity for Gaga to take her clothes off for another glut of publicity or is she really putting herself on the line to make her fans feel better about not being perfect?

Whichever the case, the core of the message is absolutely correct – be happy with who and what you are, regardless of the opinions of others.


Lily Allen speaks up about bulimia

Lily Allen

Lily Allen has opened up about how she was suffering from an eating disorder when her music career was at its peak in a revealing documentary.

It’s not surprising that the pressures of fame and the need to look a certain way eventually manifested itself in bulimia – a self-destructive eating disorder characterized by self-induced vomiting and laxative overuse.

“There was a point last summer (2009) where I had an eating disorder, I used to vomit after meals,” admits Allen. “It is not something I am proud of. But I tell you what, a lot of people used to come up to me and tell me how great I looked. And I was on the cover of every magazine with them saying, ‘Lily is looking amazing – look how much weight she has lost’. I thought I looked good.

“It was great to try on clothes and walk out of the shop feeling a million dollars. When you have been a victim of people saying the complete opposite, you want more of it. But I wasn’t happy, I really wasn’t. I would like to be the skinniest, mini-est person in the world, but I know I can’t do that without being unhappy. I like my food.”

The musician has since officially retired from the music industry and together with her older sister Sarah, 30, has just recently launched a vintage clothes store, Lucy In Disguise, in London’s famous and trendy Covent Garden market.

Allen went on to say that she has no desire to end up “mental” like Madonna, adding: “People who are famous and successful and live in this mad world tend to die really early, or kill themselves, or die in a drugs overdose. No offence but that is not what drives me. I want to get married and have kids and make sandwiches cutting the crusts off.”

Allen had a miscarriage after four months in 2008 when she was dating  Ed Simons from band The Chemical Brothers and then again last year when she was six months pregnant with fiance Sam Cooper’s baby.