The pressure to have the “perfect” body — as in, one that aligns with whatever the current, idealized, unattainable standard is at the moment — is as intense as ever. From preteens to parents, no one is immune to getting self-conscious or insecure about their body, a feeling that can sometimes spiral into eating disorders with dangerous health consequences. And while eating disorders can affect anyone, celebrities have started coming forward over the past few decades to talk about how eating disorders have impacted their lives.
According to Mayo Clinic, eating disorders are health conditions that affect physical and mental health, and can include issues around eating behaviors and “how you think about food, eating, weight, and shape.” The most common eating disorders are anorexia, which can involve severely limiting calories or cutting out certain kinds of foods; bulimia, which involves eating food in a short period of time, then “purging” afterwards; and binge-eating disorder, which involves eating food (sometimes in large amounts) in a short period of time.
While the stereotype is that only young women suffer from eating disorders, recent research has found that that’s simply not the case. According to a 2014 study cited by the National Eating Disorders Association, 25 percent of people with anorexia are men, and men are at higher risk of dying, in part because they’re often diagnosed later, as many people assume men don’t have eating disorders. Eating disorders are also prevalent among high school and collegiate athletes.
According to the NEDA, eating disorders arise “from a variety of physical, emotional, and social issues,” and preventing them and lowering their prevalence worldwide will require addressing factors at all of those levels. That said, initiating conversations about eating disorders — who they affect, why they occur, and their harmful effects on people — is one step in the right direction. Ahead, 31 celebrities are doing just that by speaking out about their own experiences to help end the stigma.