Celebrities And Eating Disorders

Anyone, Even Celebrities, Can Be Affected By Eating Disorders

From Lady Gaga to Princess Diana, a number of celebrities have been affected by eating disorders. And celebrities are in a unique position because of their notoriety. When they publically share their struggles with eating disorders, the world listens.

Because they are so well known, celebrities have the ability to significantly raise awareness about eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia. But sadly, this same sharing can actually “glamorize” the problem and make it seem like an attractive solution for those who are impressionable.

Because celebrities seem to live “charmed lives” full of exciting adventures, wealth, and glamorous events, we tend to forget that they are people, too, and are bombarded with the same life stresses and insecurities we all face. Being under a public spotlight in a culture obsessed with beauty only exacerbates the problem. Many stars have publically shared about their struggles that sometimes stemmed from body dissatisfaction and a desired to be the “ideal.”

Karen Carpenter Brought Eating Disorders To Public Awareness

Probably the best known and earliest case of a celebrity struggling with an eating disorder was Karen Carpenter. She died in 1983 from cardiovascular collapse as a complication of prolonged anorexia. After her death, her family formed the Carpenter Family Foundation to raise money and awareness for the treatment of eating disorders. At the time of her death the general public had little knowledge of eating disorders so people struggling with the disorder were difficult to identify and treatment was difficult to administer.

Since then, more and more celebrities have come forward to admit their personal battles with eating disorders. For instance, Jamie-Lynn Sigler of “Sopranos” fame told “People” magazine, “I remember rationalizing that if I had that one piece of dessert, the next morning I would wake up and weigh 400 pounds,” she said. “It sounds so wild, but for me it was true.” (Source: 2010 Bennett Raglin)

Lady Gaga Struggled With Bulimia

Also, Stefani Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, has revealed that bulimia endangered her singing career. She has been quoted as saying that her constant purging caused stomach acid to damage her vocal cords. She said: “I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina, but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night,” she told The Sun. “I used to come home and say, ‘Dad, why do you always give us this food? I need to be thin.’ And he’d say, ‘Eat your spaghetti.'” She added that girls need to stop the “dieting wars.”

More recently, Demi Lovato, stated, “If you are going through that dark period, go to your family and closest friends. Don’t put yourself in danger. It’s very crucial that you get your feelings out – but don’t ever inflict harm on your own body because your body is so sacred. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that she’s worthy of life and that her life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.”

A Long List of Celebrities

Sadly, these are only a few of the total number of celebrities affected by eating disorders. Others who have struggled include:

  • Paula Abdul
  • Lilly Allen
  • Amanda Beard
  • Justine Bateman
  • Sally Field
  • Tracy Gold
  • Felicity Huffman
  • Elton John
  • Franz Kafka
  • Dianne Keaton
  • Sharon Osbourne
  • Sylvia Plath
  • Tara Reid
  • Joan Rivers
  • Portia de Rossi
  • Ashlee Simpson
  • Courney Thorne-Smith
  • Meredith Viera
  • Kate Winslet
  • Geri Halliwell
  • Fiona Apple
  • Victoria Beckham
  • Kate Beckinsale
  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Jane Fonda
  • Kathy Griffin
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Janet Jackson
  • Wynonna Judd
  • Alanis Morissette
  • Mary-Kate Olsen
  • Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
  • Jaime Pressly
  • Calista Flockheart
  • Nichole Richie
  • Candice Cameron

Recovery Is Possible

Eating disorders don’t discriminate between people who are celebrities and those who are not. Anybody can be affected by these serious medical and psychological conditions. But not everyone who is dealing with an eating disorder needs to face the same fate as Karen Carpenter. Many celebrities have effectively dealt with their eating disorders and now live happy, full, fulfilling lives. People like Portia de Rossi, Tara Reid, and Kelly Clarkson are examples of celebrities who have successfully overcome these disorders. With proper therapy, anyone can fully recover.


Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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