Skip to main content

Celebrities Who Have Struggled With Eating Disorders

Maddie is a writer who is certified in massage, aromatherapy, and health education. She has personally struggled with eating disorders.

Kate Winslet struggled with an eating disorder in her youth. Now she says, "I'm happy with the way I am. I'm naturally curvy. This is me, like it or lump it."

Kate Winslet struggled with an eating disorder in her youth. Now she says, "I'm happy with the way I am. I'm naturally curvy. This is me, like it or lump it."

Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are serious diseases that can be life-threatening. According to ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), eating disorders affect at least 9 percent of the world's population and directly lead to about 10,200 deaths per year.

Much has been written about how the "thin ideal" has permeated our culture and media. Movie stars, musicians, and other celebrities are put under the microscope, their bodies constantly analyzed and discussed in magazines, on TV, and on social media. Body shaming is rampant, and the notion that being beautiful and worthwhile is tied to bodyweight trickles down from celebrity culture to the world at large. We look to celebrities as a model for how we ourselves should look.

It turns out that many famous people have fallen victim to eating disorders. Some have died as a direct result of this disease while others have struggled for years to overcome it. What follows is a list of celebrities and their personal experiences with these disorders. In some cases, they have become passionate advocates against eating disorders, hoping to educate and spread messages of body positivity. In a few cases, I have included videos of them sharing their personal struggles in the hopes of sparing others the pain they experienced.

Alanis Morissette

Canadian singer Alanis Morissette has admitted that she struggled with anorexia and bulimia between the ages of 14 and 18—but is now recovered.

"[Now] I work out about two times a week instead of nine," she said. "I'm still a part of society, but I'm better able to challenge it than when I was 14."

Ana Carolina Reston

Ana Carolina Reston

Ana Carolina Reston

Brazilian fashion model Ana Carolina Reston died at age 21 from complications of anorexia in November of 2006.

"Take care for your children because their loss is irreparable," Reston's mother, Miriam, told the O Globo newspaper. "Nothing can make the pain go away. No money in the world is worth the life of your child."

Ashlee Simpson

American singer Ashlee Simpson, the younger sister of highly successful actress and singer Jessica Simpson, admits that she battled an eating disorder in her pre-teen years. Despite being photographed at very low weights in the recent past, Ashlee attests that she has fully recovered.

"I think I have good curves, and they're womanly," she says. "I hate it when girls lose their curves. "I think it's sexy not to be a bone and it's sad when people get too weight-conscious and don't look in the mirror and see themselves as being as beautiful as they are."

Barbara Niven

Barbara Niven

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Bellatory

Barbara Niven

Actress Barbara Niven has come forward about her hidden struggle:

"I did it all: anorexia, bulimia, binging, over-exercise. But no matter how much weight I lost I could never look 'skinny'. It's not my body type! So I always felt disgusting and like a failure. I hated myself and my body, but always tried to hide how I felt behind a smile. It was my secret shame."

Calista Flockhart

The actress made famous as Ally McBeal long denied having an eating disorder, but later came forward to admit that she had.

"I am much more healthy these days," she says, despite no evidence of significant weight gain.

Cathy Rigby

Gymnast Cathy Rigby was the first American person (female or male) to win a gymanstics gold medal at the Olympics, which she did at the 1968 Summer Games. She now reports that most of the USA national team suffered from eating disorders, without the official label. "We didn't know very much about nutrition. Neither did the coaches," she says.

Cathy got help for her eating disorder in the 1980s, and she now travels the country speaking about her experiences in the hopes of helping others.

Christy Henrich

Christy Henrich

Christy Henrich

In 1988, gymnast Christy Henrich was told by a U.S. judge that she had to lose weight in order to make the Olympic team. When she failed the cut, her weight dropped drastically. She died from complications of anorexia at 22 years old. She was just 60 pounds.

Daniel Johns

Australian rocker Daniel Johns from the band Silverchair has been open about his history of anorexia and depression, which nearly led him to suicide in his teenage years.

The incidence of eating disorders in Australia has been steadily increasing since the late 1990s.

Elisa Donovan

Actress Elisa Donovan engaged in chronic dieting as a teenager, leading to a battle with anorexia nervosa, from which she is now recovered. "At first, I'd eat no fat," Elisa says of her disordered eating. "Then, I'd just eat breakfast—cereal and toast—and not eat again until night."

While filming the movie Clueless, she nearly suffered a heart attack due to her eating disorder. It was after that experience that she finally decided to seek treatment.

Elton John

Elton John, the legendary British musician and composer, entered rehabilitation for bulimia and substance abuse problems in 1990. Post-recovery, he came out as gay, and today he enjoys as much success as ever.

In 1997, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Felicity Huffman

Actress Felicity Huffman fought anorexia and bulimia throughout her teens and into her early twenties. She sought help with the support of her family at age 22.

Her most famous role has probably been as Lynette Scavo in the wildly popular ABC hit Desperate Housewives, which ran from 2004 to 2012.

Fiona Apple

Singer-songwriter Fiona Apple developed anorexia in her young teens. She attributes her disorder not to a desire to be thin, but to the emotional trauma she sustained from her rape at age 12.

Gelsey Kirkland

Gelsey Kirkland

Gelsey Kirkland

Renowned ballerina Gelsey Kirkland published a co-authored autobiography in 1986 called Dancing on My Grave, which chronicled her double-life as an acclaimed dancer and self-hating anorexic. She attributed her eating disorder to the punishing world of ballet; she wrote that George Balanchine, the world-renowned ballet choreograher, told her that he must be able to "see the bones" in her body.