Nearly anyone can develop anorexia nervosa – even famous people. While we often think of celebrities as leading perfect lives, they are humans too. This means well-known people can experience anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders, just as everyday people do.
More than 30 million people in the United States have an eating disorder, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). Eating disorders affect men and women, all races and all ethnic groups.
Many celebrities have spoken up about their experiences to let others know they are not alone, and in doing so, show that they are just like everyone else when it comes to eating disorders. A few even share some words of wisdom about seeking help.
6 Celebrities Who had Anorexia Nervosa
- Demi Lovato
Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum singer, songwriter, and actress Demi Lovato underwent treatment for anorexia and bulimia in 2010.
Lovato once said, “Having an eating disorder doesn’t show ‘strength.’ Strength is when are able to overcome your demons after being sick and tired for so long. Starving is not a ‘diet’ and throwing up isn’t something that only extremely thin men or women do. Eating disorders do not discriminate.”
- Billy Bob Thornton
Actor, musician and “Southern bad boy” Billy Bob Thornton lost 59 pounds in 1998, after filming the movie U-Turn. It started out as an attempt to lose a little unwanted weight.
Thornton later said, “I think I had a little mental problem. I got anorexic; of course, I denied it to my girlfriend and everyone else who said I had an eating disorder.”
- Alanis Morissette
Alanis Morissette experienced anorexia nervosa as she tried to break into the music industry. She found it helpful to see a therapist, and currently practices yoga, engages in meditation and keeps a journal.
The singer now talks about mindfulness, saying, “The big question for me around eating-disorder recovery is, ‘What is sobriety with food?’”
- Dennis Quaid
Actor Dennis Quaid told People magazine that he had anorexia in the mid-1990s, around the time he was losing weight to play the role of Doc Holliday in the movie, Wyatt Earp. That movie portrays Holliday’s final days as he was dying of tuberculosis, and Quaid was trying to capture that look.
He told the magazine, “For many years, I was obsessed about what I was eating, how many calories it had, and how much exercise I’d have to do.”
- Ashley Hamilton
Son of the famous actor, George Hamilton, Ashley Hamilton grew up in Hollywood. Ashley became a famous actor in his own right, starring in the hit, Iron Man. In an interview with People magazine, the young actor revealed that he had gone through a hard time with drugs and alcohol.
Hamilton was six months clean from drug and alcohol abuse when he realized he had bulimia and anorexia. In fact, he said, “I believe it was my problem before I got into drugs and alcohol. I used the drugs and alcohol to control the food addiction.”
- Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga used her website to tell her fan base, known as her “Little Monsters,” that she had been experiencing signs of anorexia and bulimia since she was 15 years old. The pop icon shared pictures and stories about her weight gain and loss. Her Born This Way Foundation even connects young people with resources that help with body image, which plays a role in anorexia nervosa, as well as bullying, and drug and alcohol issues.
Lady Gaga’s advice is simple: “It’s really hard, but … you’ve got to talk to somebody about it.”
Lady Gaga is right – the most important thing anyone with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorder can do it to talk with someone about it. This is true whether you are a famous celebrity or an everyday person.