Katie Couric’s new talk show tackles the serious issue of eating disorders in America with her September 24 episode featuring Demi Lovato.
The star, singer, and host of X Factor tells Couric her personal story of her rise to fame and how, along with it, she developed an eating disorder that almost killed her. Lovato speaks out against our culture’s obsession with thinness and body image by explaining how she defeated her demon before it spiraled out of control. (more…)
Unknown to many, Amanda Beard silently struggled with bulimia and depression for years. The multiple Olympics medal winning swimmer and successful model agonized for years over her physical appearance. Even though everyone else saw a thin beautiful and successful woman, Beard thought of herself as fat, ugly and a failure.
In her college years she had begun cutting herself to deal with the extreme agony she was going through. Along with the cutting, she became bulimic as a way to cope with all the pressure and her low self-esteem. Through the years, no one suspected a thing because on the outside she appeared to be so successful.
She told Today’s Ann Curry, “I felt like an idiot saying I was struggling so much inside because I was an Olympic athlete. I was having a great career. I had my own house. There were all these great things going on in my life, but on the inside, I was hating everything about me.”
Beard began to feel the pressure at a young age. She won her first medal when she was only 14 years old. She said that it was a lot for a teen to take in, that she felt the constant need to look beautiful, thin and perfect. The pressure was magnified when during her second Olympics in Syndney in 2000, the media began saying she had put on weight. (more…)
Katharine McPhee has overcome huge personal challenges on her journey to professional success. Currently getting big attention for her role in the new show Smash, McPhee has found a balanced approach to food and exercise after struggling with a severe eating disorder. The singer and actress suffered from bulimia for many years, culminating in three months of rehab at Los Angeles’s Eating Disorder Center of California.
McPhee tried to address her cycle of binging and purging by a number of different approaches, from therapists to Food Addicts Anonymous. She ultimately found success through intuitive eating, which helped her overcome her fear of “bad” foods and curb her binge eating. Counter-intuitively, once McPhee stopped obsessing over her weight, she was able to drop 30 pounds.
“The more I focused on my weight, the worse my bulimia got,” McPhee said. “Now I’m more easygoing. I stopped fighting myself and became more forgiving of my body. Ironically, the weight came off naturally through exercise but no dieting.” She says she works to avoid a “diet mentality” to prevent relapses.
Tracey Gold is a well known Hollywood name. She’s known for he long time role on the series Growing Pains but she’s almost just as well known for her public battle with anorexia. Gold was one of the first celebrities to go public with her disease in the 90’s and since has been an advocate for educating people about eating disorders. Taking that role to another level, Gold has recently debuted a show on Lifetime titled Starving Secrets with Tracey Gold. In the unscripted series, Gold works one-on-one with women struggling with eating disorders. The show is aimed at helping these women who are in life threatening situations, however, criticism has risen. Many fear that Starving Secrets, and shows like them, may do more harm than good.
In the dark world of eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia, there seem to be a lot of secrets. The patients who struggle tend to be very reclusive and hidden. They basically have to be, because if the world saw what they were doing, someone might try and stop it. Critics fear that the show will provide more secrets for the afflicted to use, almost as if the show will become a new guide book or manual to further their disease. Professionals fear that while the show truly wants to help, it may inadvertently trigger viewers or even challenge those struggling to get competitive. For example, if the woman on the show is only eating 800 calories a day, the viewer may strive to only eat 500. Eating disorders are tricky and it’s very debatable what will help and what will hurt.
Brooke Randolph, a licensed mental health counselor, shared her thoughts about the show.“I agree with the other experts who are concerned that this may pose more danger than potential good. Those who suffer from eating disorders are often looking for new tactics and ideas to help them lose weight. The road to recovery is long and complicated, and it cannot be fully displayed in a single episode or even season. Ms. Gold likely wants to help others feel less alone in their suffering and make a difference to as many as she can. Unfortunately, like so many endeavors, the best of intentions can actually cause more harm than good.”
It’s hard to realize sometimes that celebrities are regular people just like the rest of us. They struggle with things like weight, exercise and self image. Jane Fonda has been in the spotlight for decades for her long acting career and having produced and starred in over 20 exercise DVDs since 1982. But Jane Fonda recently revealed to Harper’s Bazaar some of the struggles she’s dealt with in the past, like bulimia and poor body image.
Fonda spoke candidly about growing up in the 1950s and how her father influenced her body image. She said, “I was taught by my father that how I looked was all that mattered, frankly. He was a good man, and I was mad for him, but he sent messages to me that fathers should not send: Unless you look perfect, you’re not going to be loved.”
Fonda also talked about her battle with bulimia which went on for decades. “I wasn’t very happy from, I would say, puberty to 50? It took me a long time. It was in my 40s, and if you suffer from bulimia, the older you get, the worse it gets. It takes longer to recover from a bout.” Shortly after Fonda made the choice to end her battle with bulimia, she started producing and starring in her workout videos as a form of empowerment.