Eating disorders can be incredibly difficult to talk about, but the more visible we can make people who have had eating disorders, the more we can normalize how many people go through them. Bulimia is a common but incredibly isolating eating disorder, which is why a number of celebrities who have this condition have spoken candidly about their struggles.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, bulimia, or bulimia nervosa, is an eating disorder characterized by uncontrolled episodes of overeating and purging food. This overeating is sometimes called bingeing or binge-eating, and it consists of consuming unusually large quantities of food over a short period of time. Afterward, people who have bulimia will purge the contents of their stomach by inducing vomiting or using laxatives. They typically do this out of fear or anxiety around gaining weight.
Anyone can develop bulimia, but this condition is much more prevalent in women than men, per data from the National Institute of Mental Health. Other mental health issues — including anxiety, mood disorders, and substance use disorders — are also common in people with bulimia.
Like all eating disorders, bulimia can be deadly if left untreated. It can also cause lasting health issues, such as fatigue, throat inflammation, and dental problems due to the erosion of tooth enamel from vomiting. But there are treatment options available. Treatments like therapy, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medications can be incredibly helpful in aiding a person’s recovery.
Many people who have bulimia suffer silently because they feel ashamed of their behavior, but there’s nothing shameful about being one of the 28.8 million Americans who have an eating disorder each year. It’s simply a health issue that requires treatment to resolve.
Advocacy has improved thanks celebrities who’ve struggled with bulimia have used their platforms to demystify the condition, and to encourage others to seek help. Read on to learn more about nine celebs who have bravely opened up about having bulimia, from Demi Lovato, to Elton John, to the late Princess Diana.