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Famosos con bulimia

Ansiedad, falta de autoestima, infancias infelices, búsqueda de la perfección… Muchos pueden ser los motivos de origen de los denominados desórdenes alimentarios como la bulimia o la anorexia. Además de localizar la raíz del problema, es esencial encontrar la mejor manera de solucionarlo. Por eso Nieves Álvarez protagonizó una campaña publicitaria del Ministerio de Sanidad en 2003 cuyo eslogan era: “Si necesitas ayuda, pídela. Yo lo hice”. La modelo ya había narrado su experiencia en el libro Yo vencí la anorexia, editado por Libros de Hoy en 2001, un estremecedor relato vital de una mujer que llegó a pesar 42 kilos y estuvo a punto de morir. Y, al contrario de lo que pudiera parecer a primera vista, su profesión, lejos de ser la causa, se convirtió en la mejor de las terapias. La presentadora del programa de TVE Flash Moda no es la única española que ha dado la cara: también la cantante murciana Ruth Lorenzo admitía haberlo pasado muy mal en el programa Viajando con Chester presentado por Pepa Bueno: “Soy y estoy enferma, es como el que es alcohólico o tiene una drogadicción. Yo siempre voy a ser así. Tengo que ser muy consciente de los bajones que te dan, porque pasas por altibajos y momentos de flaqueza”, confesaba en 2015 la que fuera nuestra representante en Eurovisión un año antes.

Los desórdenes alimentarios afectan por igual a hombres o mujeres. De ello han dejado testimonio cantantes como Zayn Malik, quien fuera miembro del grupo One Direction y acaba de lanzar su nuevo disco, Icarus Falls; Elton John, quien compartió esta circunstancia con su gran amiga Lady Di; o actores como Russell Brand, ex de Katy Perry; Billy Bob Thornton, exmarido de Angelina Jolie; o Dennis Quaid. En esta ocasión, vamos a recordar a diez mujeres que han sido un ejemplo de superación.

1. Victoria Beckham
Learning to Fly (Aprendiendo a volar), la autobiografía publicada por la diseñadora en 2001, desveló que había padecido bulimia y anorexia, por lo que llegó a estar obsesionada con su aspecto físico: “En el gimnasio, en lugar de controlar mi postura o mi posición, estaba más pendiente de mi trasero o de comprobar si mi papada se hacía más pequeña”, confesaba. En enero de 2017, la que fuera cantante de las Spice Girls (ella no participa en la gira que están preparando), publicaba en Vogue una carta dirigida a la persona que ella fue cuando tenía 18 años, en la que abordaba esta misma cuestión. En esta ocasión, de una manera más alusiva, admitiendo que se había sometido a diversas dietas de moda, además de desvelar que también había sido sufrido acoso escolar.

2. Ke$ha
Al igual que Victoria Beckham, la cantante también hizo ese ejercicio de escribir una carta retroactiva a quien ella fue cuando tenía 18 años. Narraba con crudeza las dificultades que había atravesado: “Tengo buenas y malas noticias, así que como sé que eres muy impaciente empezaremos con las buenas. ¡Lo has superado! Y gracias a Dios, porque el mejor plan B que se nos ocurrió fue ser camarera y pronto descubrimos que no era nuestro fuerte. La mala noticia es que casi te matas en el camino hacia el éxito, alimentado por el miedo al fracaso, a causa de una gran ansiedad e inseguridad. Sufrirás una severa bulimia y anorexia, y cuanto más empeore tu enfermedad, más elogios recibirás de la gente de la industria. Y esto estropeará tu cabeza, porque cuando estás tratando de vivir conforme a unas expectativas nada realistas, nunca tienes suficiente, no importa lo que hagas”, manifestaba en agosto de 2017, tres años después de haber pasado un período internada en una clínica de rehabilitación, que aprovechó también para componer y seguir adelante con su carrera.

3. Christina Ricci
La actriz, que se hizo mundialmente famosa por interpretar a Miércoles en la versión cinematográfica de La familia Addams, confesó en 2010 que había sufrido anorexia hasta los 16 años y que su recuperación comenzó cuando fue consciente de que podía acabar internada en un hospital. “Yo tuve suerte porque solo lo sufrí durante un año y medio más o menos, porque me pusieron en terapia muy pronto y pude superarlo”, declaraba en el programa de televisión The Talk, emitido por la cadena estadounidense CBS en enero de 2012: “La pubertad es una situación extraña, pues te conviertes en una mujer y todo el mundo empieza a mirarte. Especialmente cuando estás probándote ropa para una película y la gente te juzga por cómo te sienta, así que te sientes muy incómoda y no quieres que nadie te critique”, añadió la actriz que, además, dio un consejo a las personas que descubrieran algún síntoma. “Si sientes que te estás empezando a obsesionar con tu aspecto, necesitas algún tipo de terapia de inmediato, porque puede llegar a crecer y convertirse en algo que no puedas controlar”.

4. Victoria de Suecia
Con motivo de su 40 cumpleaños, la heredera del trono sueco concedió una entrevista para un documental en el que habló del infierno personal que atravesó en su juventud. Una realidad que la propia Casa Real tuvo que admitir mediante un comunicado emitido en 1997 después de que trascendieran unas imágenes que mostraban a la princesa alarmantemente delgada. “Necesitaba solucionar las cosas y recuperar mi equilibrio de nuevo. Aprender a conocerme una vez más y descubrir dónde estaban mis límites, no estar presionándome constantemente”, admitía dos décadas más tarde, convertida ya en una feliz madre de familia junto al ahora príncipe Daniel, entonces un anónimo preparador físico que respondía al nombre de Daniel Westling y que fue crucial para su recuperación.

Victoria de Suecia en 1996 (a la izquierda) y en 1997 (a la derecha). Foto: Getty Images

5. Jane Fonda
La ganadora de dos Oscar por Klute y El regreso fue una de las pioneras en desvelar que padecía desórdenes alimentarios, contra los que luchó durante décadas. En su caso, encontró la raíz del problema en su infancia: “Me criaron en los años 50. Mi padre (el legendario actor Henry Fonda), me enseñó que lo que importaba realmente era mi aspecto físico. Era un buen hombre y yo estaba loca por él, pero me trasmitía un mensaje que los padres no tienen que hacer llegar a los hijos: ‘A no ser que seas perfecta, no te van a querer», manifestaba en una entrevista con Harper’s Bazaar en 2011. La protagonista de la serie Grace y Frankie (de Netflix), arrastró algunos de estos problemas durante años: “Sufrí bulimia cuando me encontraba en la década de los 40 y cuanto mayor te haces más complicado se pone. Cuesta mucho más recuperarse de un combate”. En su caso, lo superó hace ya treinta años: “Tenía una carrera, estaba ganando premios, apoyando a organizaciones benéficas, una familia… Tenía que tomar una decisión: vivir o morir”.

6. Alannis Morissette
El yoga y la meditación han sido claves para que la cantante canadiense recupere su vida. Haciéndose preguntas sobre el origen de su mal y cómo combatirlo han dado resultado. Gran abanderada del mindfulness, la intérprete ha superado esta etapa oscura de su vida: “La gran cuestión para mí es ‘¿qué es estar sobrio con la comida?’ Sabemos lo que significa con el alcohol, no lo tomas y no te metes en un bar. Con la heroína, no te acercas a ella. Sin embargo, con la comida, tienes que comer, así que en mi caso iba dando tumbos entre los atracones, morirme de hambre, comer en exceso… Todo el rato con subidas y bajadas. Así que me pregunté cómo podía salir de esa situación para estar sobria”, afirmaba en la entrevista Women’s Health en 2015 la artífice de uno de los discos más vendidos de la década de los 90, Jagged Little Pill.

7. Lady Gaga
La protagonista de Ha nacido una estrella ha sufrido diversos problemas de salud a lo largo de los años. La fibromialgia es una condición con la que convive a diario, como ya ha narrado en el documental de Netflix Five Foot Two, pero parece que ahora tiene sus desórdenes alimentarios bajo control: “Solía vomitar constantemente cuando estudiaba secundaria. Quería ser una bailarina esquelética pero era una voluptuosa niña italiana cuyo padre le ponía albóndigas para cenar cada noche”, manifestaba en 2012 en una conferencia organizada por Maria Shriver, exmujer de Arnold Schwarzenegger. Un año más tarde emprendía una campaña denominada Body Revolution (Revolución del cuerpo), en la que mostraba imágenes de su anatomía en ropa interior después de haber recibido críticas, algunas muy hirientes, por haber ganado peso. Al mismo tiempo confesaba que había sufrido anorexia y bulimia desde los 15 años y animaba a sus seguidores a que hicieran frente a sus miedos: “Ahora que ha comenzado la revolución, sed valientes y publicad una foto que celebre vuestro triunfo sobre vuestras inseguridades”.

8. Lily Collins
En 2017 llegó a Netflix la película To the Bone, que narra la historia de Ellen, una joven que sufre desórdenes alimentarios en la adolescencia, lo mismo que le ocurrió a la actriz protagonista, hija del cantante Phill Collins: “Fue un papel muy dramático para mí, porque yo también pasé por esas mismas circunstancias a esa edad. El año pasado publiqué un libro y dediqué un capítulo a hablar de mi experiencia, una semana antes e que me llegara el guión. Fue como si el universo hubiera puesto todas estas cosas en mi órbita para ayudarme a enfrentar el miedo que antes tenía”, desveló Lily Collins, en cuyo libro Unfiltered, No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me (Sin filtros, sin vergüenza, sin remordimientos, solo yo) hace un estremecedor relato de las consecuencias de su enfermedad: “Mi cabello y mis uñas se volvieron frágiles. Mi garganta quemaba y me dolía el esófago. Dejé de tener el período durante un par de años. Me aterrorizaba la idea de que arruinara mis posibilidades de ser madre”.

8. Ireland Baldwin
La única hija del matrimonio entre Kim Basinger y Alec Baldwin utilizó su perfil de Instagram desvelar esta circunstancia el pasado mes de agosto. “Luché contra muchos desórdenes alimentarios y problemas con mi cuerpo en mi juventud y me costó mucho tiempo quererme a mí misma y aceptarme. Confiad en mí, todo el dolor y la destrucción que me infligí a mí misma no mereció la pena”, manifestaba la modelo, quien acababa sus mensajes dando algunos consejos a jóvenes que pudieran encontrarse en su misma situación: “Ámate a ti misma, eres preciosa. Disfruta de tu comida. Tómate helados con tus amigos. Haz ejercicio y come sano para cuidar tu mente y tu cuerpo, encuentra tu equilibrio. La vida es demasiado corta”. Ireland no es la única de la familia que ha sufrido este problema, también la actual mujer de su padre, Hilaria Baldwin, lo desveló en su libro The Living Clearly Method, en 2016: “Quise sincerarme sobre el problema de crecer con desórdenes alimentarios. Recurrí al yoga, a lo saludable y al bienestar para curar mi cuerpo y mi mente. A veces pienso en cómo era antes y lo mal que lo habría pasado por ganar peso durante el embarazo y ahora soy paciente para perderlo de manera sana. Estoy muy feliz de poder ser una madre fuerte que acepta su cuerpo”.

10. Portia de Rossi
La mujer de la presentadora Ellen DeGeneres, con quien se casó en 2008, comenzó a tener estos problemas en su infancia y se acrecentaron cuando comenzó a trabajar como modelo. Una época de la que guarda recuerdos no muy agradables: “En una ocasión llegué a estar diez días sin comer. Me subía a la pasarela y me convertía en una niña que posaba y trataba de ser sexy, que trotaba por allí mientras otras modelos se burlaban de mis cejas pobladas”. Su batalla, que prosiguió en la edad adulta, quedó reflejada en su libro Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain (Insoportable levedad: una historia de perder y ganar), que se publicó en 2010. “Desde que tenía 12 años me moría de hambre y luego me emborrachaba cuando acababa el trabajo. Esa es la dieta que seguí cada vez que necesitaba perder peso”, manifestaba entonces en el programa Good Morning America.

20 fotos de famosas que tuvieron anorexia o bulimia y pudieron recuperarse

Siempre pensamos que sus vidas son perfectas, pero las estrellas de Hollywood también enfrentan problemas muy serios.

Como parte del grave problema de obsesión por la imagen, la red social Instagram colocó algunos filtros preventivos para pensarlo dos veces antes de derrumbarte por la mortificación de tu imagen corporal. Anteriormente se podía acceder sin ningún problema a hashtags como #loseweight #anorexia y #bulimia. Como la red se dio cuenta de que no podía eliminar estas claves, colocó un filtro a la hora de la búsqueda. Es decir, antes de mostrarte todos los resultados aparece el mensaje: «¿Podemos ayudarte?».

«Las publicaciones o palabras con hashtags que buscas, están relacionadas con un comportamiento que puede causar daños e incluso llevar a la muerte. Si estás pasando por un momento difícil, nos gustaría ayudarte».

Podría pensarse que estas enfermedades no afectan más que a unas cuantas personas, pero en realidad cada vez son más las personas que llegan a extremos para mantenerse delgados. Entre ellos están algunas grandes actrices y figuras del entretenimiento, a quienes percibimos siempre llenas de seguridad, pero que han pasado momentos muy difíciles por culpa de estos padecimientos.

Angelina Jolie

A la actriz siempre le ha costado trabajo relacionarse con la comida. A lo largo de su carrera ha tenido numeroso altibajos a causa de la anorexia. Sin embargo, fue después de su separación de Brad Pitt que empezó a acentuarse este problema. Además de la fuetrte depresión que ha tenido por varios años.

Nicole Richie

No fue hasta que se convirtió en madre que Richie pudo lidiar mejor con la comida y sus problemas de peso, ya que nunca aceptó sufrir anorexia o bulimia. Incluso ambos padecimientos iban estrechamente ligados a su abuso de alcohol y drogas.

Mary-Kate Olsen

No una, sino varias veces ha sido hospitalizada por privarse severamente de alimento. Olsen ha tenido que luchar contra la anorexia desde que era una adolescente. Sin embargo, luego de estar casi al borde de la muerte, enfrentó su problema y se inspiró en las miles de chicas que se encuentran en medio de esta oscura espiral.

Christina Ricci

Para esta actriz el problema inició cuando tenía 12 años, su tiempo como estrella de cine le impedía seguir un plan correcto de alimentación, incluso hizo declaraciones contra la industria hollywoodense por orillarla a estas enfermedades. También confesó que «aprendió» a ser anoréxica en un programa. La recuperación fue dura, pero ha logrado superarla.

Lindsay Lohan

En el caso de Lindsay fue atacada por una severa bulimia como consecuencia del desequilibrio mental por el que atravesaba. Esos años en que se alcoholizaba y drogaba sin reparos llegaron a su fin cuando sus seres queridos le advirtieron que podría morir. Se asustó, puso su vida de vuelta a la actuación y decidió dejar todo eso atrás.

Demi Lovato

Demi es una víctima del bullying. Desde pequeña recibió duras críticas por su aspecto físico, así que la solución como adolescente confundida y atormentada fue dejar de comer. Para recuperarse antes tuvo que pasar por el abuso de drogas. Aunque lo primero ya lo superó gracias a su familia, los estupefacientes aún le causan problemas.

Kate Moss

La vida de Kate Moss es un auténtico juego de ruleta rusa, sus momentos vitales siempre se han mantenido en un sube-y-baja, incluyendo su salud. En cuanto está a punto de superar la anorexia, de repente la vemos con un aspecto en realidad deplorable. Sin embargo, lucha todos los días y sus últimos meses han sido buenos.

Keira Knightley

A todos nos dio un susto terrible esa legendaria fotografía en la que Keira está irreconocible. La sospechas de que padecía anorexia eran innegables. Aunque la actriz nunca ha declarado nada al respecto, afortunadamente pudo pasar esa etapa ya que su aspecto actual es mucho más saludable.

Victoria Beckham

La anorexia la ha acosado desde que era una Spice Girl y la presión de los medios y del público posaba sobre sus hombros. Aunque logró superarla brevemente al inicio, no hace muchos años volvió a recaer. Afortunadamente ha logrado salir adelante gracias a su familia y su realización profesional.

Tara Reid

Tara Reid tuvo problemas con su físico casi inmediatamente después de actuar en su primera película. Las múltiples cirugías plásticas y los trastornos alimenticios han hecho estragos con su cuerpo, además de los excesos. Actualmente ha tomado mayor consciencia sobre su salud.

Los problemas alimenticios no deben tomarse a la ligera. No es una simple inconformidad con nuestro físico, ya que ese sencillo momento de malestar puede extenderse tanto hasta acabar con nuestra vida. Si tienes problemas similares, busca ayuda.

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10 valientes famosas que superaron trastornos alimenticios

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¿Qué pasa cuando el peor enemigo se sienta a tu lado a comer? Los trastornos alimenticios son una realidad difícil de aceptar. Incluso en las celebridades, quienes parecen tener la vida resuelta, hay casos de bulimia, anorexia y otras dificultades.

Aunque la bulimina y la anorexia son los más conocidos, también existen problemas como la vigorexia (obsesión por la musculatura) o la compulsión por comer. Los síntomas se presentan en edades cada vez más tempranas, inclusive a partir de los ocho años.

Te puede interesar: Pregorexia, la vida de las mujeres embarazadas con anorexia

Es importante notar que este tipo de padecimientos no es exclusivo de mujeres, aunque sí se presentan con más frecuencia en el género femenino. Celebridades como el cantante Zayn Malik o actores como Russell Brand también han sido víctimas de este tipo de problemas de salud.

Para inspirarte a dar el primer paso y celebrar su valentía, en De10.mx te presentamos a 10 famosas que superaron trastornos alimenticios:

1. Victoria Beckham

En 2001, la ex Spice Girls publicó su autobiografía, Learning to Fly. En ella, la ahora diseñadora confesó haber sufrido de bulimia y anorexia, además de estar obsesionada con su figura. “En el gimnasio, en lugar de controlar mi postura o mi posición, estaba más pendiente de mi trasero o de comprobar si mi papada se hacía más pequeña”, declaró

Foto: AP

2. Ke$ha

En 2017, luego de haber pasado tres años en una clínica de rehabilitación, la cantante escribió una emotiva carta a su “yo” de 18 años. “Sufrirás una severa bulimia y anorexia, y cuanto más empeore tu enfermedad, más elogios recibirás de la gente de la industria”, escribió Ke$ha en el texto hacia sí misma.

Foto: AP

3. Christina Ricci

La actriz de La familia Addams confesó en 2010 que había sufrido anorexia hasta los 16 años. Afortunadamente, recibió tratamiento psicológico a tiempo y sólo le tomó un año y medio recuperarse. “Si sientes que te estás empezando a obsesionar con tu aspecto, necesitas algún tipo de terapia de inmediato, porque puede llegar a crecer y convertirse en algo que no puedas controlar”, recomendó.

Foto: AP

4. Victoria de Suecia

En 1997, la Casa Real sueca tuvo que admitir en un comunicado público que la princesa atravesaba por problemas alimenticios luego de imágenes que la captaron en extrema delgadez. Para recuperarse, recurrió a un preparador físico, quien además de ayudarla se convertiría en su esposo y confidente.

Foto: AP

5. Jane Fonda

La actriz fue una de las primeras figuras públicas en develar que padecía desórdenes alimenticios. En su caso, la causa se escondía en su infancia. Jane Fonda confesó que fue su padre, Henry, quien le enseñó que lo único que importaba era su aspecto físico.

Foto: AP

6. Alannis Morissette

Los atracones y ayunos extremos eran parte de la vida de esta cantante canadiense en los noventa. Para esta estrella, el yoga y la meditación fueron dos herramientas clave para superar este pasaje oscuro de su vida personal.

Ver esta publicación en Instagram

Una publicación compartida de Alanis Morissette (@alanis) el 30 Jul, 2018 a las 10:25 PDT

7. Lady Gaga

Además de padecer fibromialgia la cantante y actriz ha luchado con la anorexia y bulimia desde los 15 años. De niña, soñaba con tener la figura de una bailarina y sufría por no poder alcanzar su meta. Por ello, en 2013, lanzó la campaña Body Revolution (Revolución del cuerpo), en la que mostraba imágenes de su cuerpo en ropa interior después de haber recibido críticas por aumentar de peso.

Ver esta publicación en Instagram

Una publicación compartida de Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) el 5 Ene, 2018 a las 3:24 PST

8. Lily Collins

En 2017, la actriz protagonizó la polémica cinta To the bone, la cual narra la vida de una joven con desórdenes alimenticios. Para Lily Collins no fue una tarea sencilla, ya que ella atravesó los mismos problemas en su adolescencia. “Mi cabello y mis uñas se volvieron frágiles. Mi garganta quemaba y me dolía el esófago. Dejé de tener el período durante un par de años”, confesó en el libro Unfiltered, No Shame, No Regrets, Just Me.

Foto: AMBI Group

9. Ireland Baldwin

La hija de Kim Basinger y Alec Baldwin usó Instagram para sincerarse con sus seguidores y confesar que tenía trastornos alimenticios. Además de hablar de la lucha con su propio cuerpo, recomendó a otras jóvenes en la misma situación buscar ayuda de inmediato. “Haz ejercicio y come sano para cuidar tu mente y tu cuerpo, encuentra tu equilibrio. La vida es demasiado corta”, escribió.

Ver esta publicación en Instagram

Una publicación compartida de ireland (@irelandbasingerbaldwin) el 12 Nov, 2018 a las 7:28 PST

10. Portia de Rossi

La esposa de Ellen DeGeneres tuvo problemas con su imagen corporal desde la infancia, pero se incrementaron al comenzar su carrera como modelo. “En una ocasión llegué a estar diez días sin comer. Me subía a la pasarela y me convertía en una niña que posaba y trataba de ser sexy”, confesó. Toda su lucha quedó narrada en el libro Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, publicado en 2010.

Foto: AP

Con información de Moda El País y El Universal

Tienes que ver:

pitch

There is a tacitly accepted set of rules that our culture follows when it comes to women in the spotlight. They are required to be thin. They do not eat a normal diet and that in and of itself is seen as normal, not even dangerous. Disordered eating is so normalized in our culture, especially in celebrity culture, that few people even acknowledge that it’s not healthy, and very potentially fatal. Eating disorders fall in line with what society expects of a celebrity—we love thinness so much, yet we know we’re supposed to be repulsed by the means of achieving that thinness—it’s easier to scrutinize their lifestyle or their partying than ever examine the toll of staying under a certain weight.

Amy Winehouse learned those ugly rules of womanhood early, as footage from Asif Kapadia’s devastating, much-praised documentary Amy reveals. A teenaged Winehouse, snacking with her friends, laments between mouthfuls that she’s a pig and she cannot help herself. In a voiceover during this sequence, the singer’s mother Janis Winehouse recounts the moment a young Amy tells her mother about discovering a great new «diet»—eating and then vomiting—that allows her to eat without gaining weight.

The film avoids editorializing at this point or any other—the format, consistent with Kapadia’s earlier, also critically-acclaimed documentary, Senna, involves audio interviews and raw footage, but no commentary—yet no editorializing is required in order for a viewer to feel distraught—the next few sentences to come out of Janis’s mouth are enough. She muses that she essentially ignored the statement and forgot about it, thinking it was a silly teen girl activity that Amy would soon grow out of. She says that when Amy told her father, Mitch Winehouse, as well, he also dismissed it.

This casual dismissal—the first mention of Amy Winehouse’s eating disorder—is wrenching, and comes almost halfway into the film. For many viewers, this may be the first they have ever heard about Winehouse’s eating disorder. As well-documented as her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction were, the tiny little fact of her severe, untreated, decade-long eating disorder was rarely mentioned. When her thinness was mocked in the media, it was almost always with the implication that hey, addicts are always skinny little wrecks. If her puffy face was ever evaluated—and it was, because every aspect of her physical appearance was eviscerated during the height of the media’s obsession with her—it was through the lens of someone looking for signs of alcohol addiction (which commonly causes bloating in the face) and not signs of self-induced vomiting.

Winehouse’s struggles with substance abuse were highly public and often ridiculed and, as many others have noted, the film does an outstanding job of laying bare the damaging impact that media coverage and celebrity-worship can have on the real, flesh-and-blood artists. She is quite literally attacked by paparazzi during highly personal events such as visits to rehab and her husband’s prison stint.

Amy also documents in thorough detail the many attempts by those surrounding the singer to get her help—both for altruistic reasons (read: because they cared deeply for the sparkling, kind, immensely talented woman) and for selfish motives (read: because they cared deeply about the fame and money that Amy could bring them as long as she was able to comport herself in the studio and on tour).

What the film is surprisingly lacking in, though, is anything beyond passing mentions of her bulimia. That segment transitions into an interview with someone working in the studio while Amy was recording Back to Black. They recount that the (very tiny) singer ate a large meal, disappeared for 45 minutes, and returned with smeared makeup. Some bathroom snooping followed, which revealed that Amy had «redecorated the bathroom,» having vomited up what she’d just eaten. This, the interviewee notes, was a point when she and others involved in the recording process realized something was really wrong. Then the film transitions away from any serious discussion of her eating disorder and never returns, other than in passing mentions perhaps three or four times. The disease is always treated as incidental and almost, to my perception, as something as permanent and untreatable as late-stage cancer, with an air of nothing can be done.

Eating disorders, for the most part, are a highly contained and easily managed means of utterly ruining oneself. A person with bulimia nervosa can carry on bingeing and purging while otherwise maintaining a high level of functionality. The same goes of those with anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and purging disorder. Bingeing, purging, or starving are highly unlikely to put you into debt, and leave you unintoxicated and able to carry out the tasks of a job, and tend to the demands of a relationship and daily chores of life. These facts make it very easy for the friends, family, and colleagues of those with an eating disorder to overlook the disease, as the footage and interviews we see in Amy remind us.

When Amy suffers and survives her first overdose, a close acquaintance summarizes the urgings of a doctor and those around her to explain that a «petite» young girl cannot maintain the level of drug and alcohol abuse that led to the overdose. However, we’ve seen the footage. Amy wasn’t always petite, and would likely not have been referred to that way even at the time she began performing in clubs and signed a record deal. Early videos of her performing for industry folks as an 18- or 19-year-old show her with broad shoulders, a heavy chest, full thighs and torso—generally an «average-sized» woman with a solid frame. This «petiteness» was not natural; it was fought for.

But to anyone other than Amy, it was easy to overlook and intimidating to address. An interview with her brother Alex in the Guardian confirms the known-but-not-discussed quality of Amy’s bulimia: «We all knew she was doing it, but it’s almost impossible especially if you’re not talking about it. It’s a real dark, dark issue.»

Yet, Amy Winehouse’s eating disorder wasn’t simply «yet another bad decision.» The environmental and genetic factors at play in Winehouse’s childhood and adolescence put her at extremely high risk for developing an eating disorder, and the lack of early intervention, education, and stable guidance meant that the disease was able to firmly take root and flourish as she was put in higher- and higher-stress situations. According to the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, «There isn’t one conclusive cause of eating disorders. Multiple factors are involved, such as genetics and metabolism; psychological issues—such as control, coping skills, trauma, personality factors, family issues; and social issues, such as a culture that promotes thinness and media that transmits this message.»

Depression is the most common mood disorder to be comorbidly diagnosed with an eating disorder, and those with eating disorders are commonly known to use their disordered «behaviors»—restricting caloric intake (commonly referred to simply as «restricting»), bingeing (which, by the definition found on the website for the National Eating Disorders Association, is characterized by «frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food» and a related «feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes»), and purging (which does not always take the form of self-induced vomiting; overexercising and laxative/diuretic abuse are also forms of purging)—as ways to cope with depression, anxiety, manic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other psychological disorders.

Winehouse was put on antidepressants early in life and, in one interview shown in the film, spoke with a depth of understanding on the subject of depression as a disease.

She said that as a child, «I don’t think I knew what depression was. I know I felt funny sometimes and I was different.» As she grew older and began taking the antidepressants, her understanding clearly deepened, and in the interview she rejects the notion that there’s something wrong with those who suffer from depression: «I’m not like some messed up person, you know? There’s a lot of people that suffer depression that don’t have an outlet.» Her outlet, she says, is playing guitar and writing music. Environmental factors, such as an unstable home life marked by an often-absent father and a mother who admits that it was a struggle to say «no» to her daughter, also likely played a role in Winehouse’s eating disorder.

So, there we have the psychological and genetic risk-factors and the environmental ones, not to mention the ignored cry for help and the implied societal pressures of being a woman at all, let alone a young woman who is growing into a performer on the world stage.

Then there’s the substance abuse.

Winehouse was notorious for her alcohol abuse even early on in her career, and her addictions to crack cocaine and heroin were spurred by her damaging, abusive relationship with eventual-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, whose betrayal spawned the creative high-point during which Winehouse penned all of the breakup-inspired Back to Black.

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, «research suggests that nearly 50% of individuals with an eating disorder (ED) are also abusing drugs and/or alcohol, a rate 5 times greater than what is seen in the general population.» Many people with eating disorders use substances as a form of appetite suppression, while «in other cases, eating disorders and substance abuse can be relied upon for avoidance-based coping.» Additionally they note that «substance abuse can develop before, during, or after treatment for an eating disorder,» and that reliance on drugs and alcohol is «both ineffective and counterproductive in that emotions remain unaddressed, problems go unresolved, and healthy strategies to cope are not developed.»

Winehouse’s many visits to treatment centers and her many attempts to go clean all center on recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, but they seemingly never address the comorbid eating disorder, despite the fact that it was ruinous to her health and was the disease she had been suffering from for the longest amount of time.

At one point, Amy’s manager and others she’s working with even draw up a contract that she must sign, stating that they won’t allow her to attend any events for the Grammy Awards—she was nominated for six—unless she gets and stays clean. At this point, she has already overdosed. She signs and obliges. She is clean during the Grammy Awards. No one in the film considers, mentions or perhaps had any real understanding that she could drop dead because of the severity of her eating disorder. It’s a silent form of destruction, and so it is, tragically, often not considered a «disease» worth treating.

Indeed, even after her death, those in the media were seen expressing resentment at the way Winehouse suffered in public, rather than feeling regretful for participating in the circus that amplified and intensified her diseases. Douglas Wolk, in his review of At the BBC, calls the album «a stinging reminder that she spent the better part of her too-brief career making her audience complicit in her self-destruction.» Yet, extreme fame and media coverage, caretakers who didn’t take care of her, and the aggressive demands of audiences were complicit in her self-destruction.

In early videos, we see Winehouse denigrating her appearance and hiding from the camera. She’s still a huge personality, but when she’s applying makeup, she criticizes her spotty skin, her face. When, after having been asleep in a car with no makeup on, the singer discovers that she’s being filmed, she hides behind blankets and refuses to be seen. She’s in her late teens in these videos, and those familiar with the signs will see on her face the trademark swollen salivary glands of someone who repeatedly self-induces vomiting. A regular viewer, however, might notice nothing except that she’s shy.

Over the course of perhaps two years, roughly gauging based on the footage included in the film, a bulimic Winehouse winnows herself down from the type of figure commonly seen on the sidewalk to the type of figure commonly seen on a red carpet.

In one interview, Winehouse’s former bodyguard recounts how close they were. She used to tell him all the things a young girl might talk to a parental figure about—including worries such as why she no longer gets her period and secrets like the fact that she can never have children. Amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation, and infertility are both symptoms of a severe eating disorder, and amenorrhea in particular is used as a factor in the diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. Not so with bulimia nervosa; the two diseases share many of the same symptoms, including the loss of a menstrual period, but this is not a diagnostic criteria for bulimia, the reason being that, again, those with bulimia are rarely severely underweight.

During Winehouse’s «clean» period, when she is living in St. Lucia and is not abusing drugs but is still drinking large amounts of alcohol, the press jumped on her «recovery» and crafted it into a redemption story. The whispers of her bulimia were allowed to be more directly addressed now that she was ostensibly «better,» and this coverage reveals in yet more ways how misunderstood eating disorders are.

One article in The Daily Mail contains photographs of Winehouse in St. Lucia, sporting a bloated stomach, which can accompany severe cases of eating disorders due to malnutrition and internal injury. In some of the photographs, she is eating, and one caption reads «Healthy appetite: Amy Winehouse looks well on the way to recovering her curves on a holiday on the Caribbean island of St Lucia.»

The article includes quotes from a man Winehouse was seeing at the time, which indicate a very limited diet and extreme malnutrition, punctuated by occasions of bingeing and purging:

She lived off Crunchie bars—up to 10 at a time—packets of Haribo sweets and bottles of orange Lucozade Sport…She would have a massive McDonalds and then throw it all up in the bathroom. I found my toothbrush covered in sick, and asked her about it.

The inclusion of these details in the article reveal how morbidly fascinated society is with the gory details of eating disorders and how utterly misinformed we are about the facts of them. Photographs of a person with bulimia—who is known to eat large portions of fast food and then throw it up—»polishing off nearly a full plate of food» are not at all a sign of recovery, as they may well be bingeing on food that they will then purge.

One of the biggest challenges when attempting to treat a patient with an eating disorder is the fact that EDs are egosyntonic, that is, the patient views the eating disorder as being in harmony with the rest of his/her personality and ego—it is an acceptable and positive part of the self. Many sufferers don’t want to get better.

According to Psychiatric Times (and anyone who has ever had an eating disorder), «Patients with eating disorders are notoriously difficult to treat and are also known to have high relapse rates.» This can be attributed to a number of factors—many of which have been addressed earlier in this piece—such as the facts that: eating disorders are misunderstood, the treatment of them is incomplete, the doctor and patient do not address the core issues at play, and of course, the disease itself is egosyntonic.

There’s substantial evidence in the film that Amy wanted to receive treatment for her drug and alcohol addictions, such as a moment when she muses that she likes it in the rehab center, as well as her willingness to sign her managerial ultimatum. None exists, at least not in the film or any documents I’ve found online, that suggests she felt the same about treating her eating disorder. And this is not surprising. She started the behaviors when she was a teenager, was not discouraged when she revealed her eating disorder to her parents, and continued the behaviors into an adulthood that demanded a very specific body type, which would be picked apart by literally billions of witnesses.

Eating disorders are hard to handle. They’re extremely difficult to treat, have high rates of relapse, are often invisible and rarely impugn on a sufferer’s ability to carry on a normal life, are often kept a secret, have causes and effects that are consistently misunderstood, and are rarely cited as an actual cause of death.

Amy Winehouse’s official cause of death was alcohol poisoning, but this can be understood as the equivalent of someone with AIDS who has died of complications from pneumonia. Similar to the way HIV compromises a body’s ability to fight infections, bulimia damages the body to the point where it is no longer able to keep up basic functions and is more susceptible to external threats.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders describes this phenomenon thusly:

Although eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, the mortality rates reported on those who suffer from eating disorders can vary considerably between studies and sources. Part of the reason why there is a large variance in the reported number of deaths caused by eating disorders is because those who suffer from an eating disorder may ultimately die of heart failure, organ failure, malnutrition or suicide. Often, the medical complications of death are reported instead of the eating disorder that compromised a person’s health.

A doctor interviewed in the film describes Winehouse’s death as a combination of alcohol poisoning and the weakened state of her body due to an eating disorder, but that assertion never made it into the official «cause of death» statement released to the public after Winehouse’s passing.

The impact of such technically accurate but holistically incomplete reporting is that the general population is not conditioned to perceive eating disorders—especially bulimia—as deadly.
Had Winehouse’s cause of death included the phrase «complications from bulimia,» the world would likely—or hopefully—have begun to engage in some very different, more complete conversations about health. The more our body-obsessed culture acknowledges the realities of eating disorders, the more we can hope to put the world on a path to a better and more accurate understanding of this devastating set of diseases, as well as the illnesses’ unique, complex sufferers. The unwillingness to truly regard Amy Winehouse’s eating disorder shows that we still have a long way to go.

As well documented as Winehouse’s struggles with alcohol and drug addiction were, the possibility of her untreated eating disorder was rarely mentioned. Her thin frame and swollen face were perpetually mocked in the media, but they were always attributed to drug and alcohol addiction. But the documentary does reveal how Winehouse struggled with disordered eating habits from a young age. The singer’s mother recounts the moment a young Amy tells her about a new “diet” she’s discovered – eating and then vomiting, which allows her to eat without gaining weight. Amy’s mother says she essentially ignored the statement, attributing it to a phase that she would grow out of. Amy’s father also dismisses the mention of her eating disorder when it’s brought to his attention.

The Contributing Factors for Eating Disorders

There is not just one cause of an eating disorder. Multiple factors are involved, including genetics, metabolism, psychological issues such as trauma, personality and coping skills, and mood disorders like anxiety, PTSD, OCD and most commonly, depression. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “substance abuse can develop before, during, or after treatment for an eating disorder,” and that reliance on drugs and alcohol is “both ineffective and counterproductive in that emotions remain unaddressed, problems go unresolved, and healthy strategies to cope are not developed.”

A person with bulimia nervosa can carry on bingeing and purging for a long time while otherwise maintaining a high level of functionality. The same goes for those with anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and purging disorder. An eating disorder can be masked in the way its sufferers are typically able to tend to the demands of relationships and daily life. This makes it easy for friends, family members and peers to overlook the disease, as the footage and interviews in Amy make clear.

The Egosyntonic Nature of Eating Disorders

One of the biggest challenges when treating a patient with an eating disorder is the fact that EDs are egosyntonic, meaning the patient views their eating disorder as being in harmony with the rest of her personality and ego, and many sufferers don’t want to get better. For many ED sufferers, their disorder is misunderstood and their treatment is incomplete; they aren’t addressing the core issues of their disorder and they don’t realize the devastating effects the eating disorder has on their body.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder, but many people don’t know that this is the case. Those who suffer from an eating disorder may die from a medical complication like heart or organ failure, caused by the EDs toll on the body. Unfortunately, these types of medical complications are reported instead of the eating disorder that compromised the person’s health, allowing the eating disorder to remain a powerful, yet silent killer.

The Meadows Ranch Can Help

At The Meadows Ranch, we provide individualized treatment for eating disorders and co-occurring conditions affecting adolescent girls and women. We offer an acute level of care as well as inpatient and residential programming in a safe, nurturing, and non-institutional environment. Our multidisciplinary team helps patients uncover and understand the underlying cause of their eating disorder and gain the courage and skills to return home and continue on the path of recovery. Please call us at 866-390-5100 or complete the form on our website to find out if our program is right for you.

Watching the Amy Winehouse film brought back memories of my battle with bulimia – and the help that took three years to come

Last night I saw ‘Amy’, the much-hyped Amy Winehouse documentary. I cannot recommend the film highly enough. It is beautifully crafted, poignant, haunting and, perhaps most importantly, fair. But I must confess to not being able to muster my usual ‘opinionated with a dash of sarcasm’ public persona for the post-film panel discussion. In fact, all I could feel was an overwhelming mixture of sadness and anger.

Like millions of people, I relate personally to Amy – in fact, her ability to make everyone feel as though they should have been her best friend was undoubtedly a key component in her charm. Like Amy, I am culturally Jewish and I cling on to a sort of Yiddish sense of humour in the face of misery and adversity, using it both to connect and shield me from the world. Like Amy, I have a penchant for big hair, lashing of eyeliner and tattoos. But perhaps most importantly, like Amy I have endured a long battle with bulimia nervosa.

We discover during the course of the film that Amy told both her parents she was throwing up her food at the age of 15. This was pre-Frank, her debut album, and whilst she was still sporting a curvaceous, bordering-on-chubby physique – the sort of body Katie Hopkins would be quick to criticise. In a voice-over, her mother and father tell us that they did not take her confession seriously. Early footage shows Amy peering into camera lenses and complaining that she looks ‘ugly’, or shovelling food into her mouth and laughingly describing herself as a ‘pig’.

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In the interim between Frank and Back to Black, Amy begins to lose weight, but still bears the hallmarks of someone battling bulimia; the raw knuckles and bloated face are all too familiar. Her therapist later tells us that it was the ravages of bulimia, combined with excessive alcohol consumption, which put Amy’s heart under strain and caused her sudden death, aged 27.

For a minimum of twelve years, Amy suffered an illness which dominated eight years of mine. What struck me most as I watched the film was that urgency in getting her help was only shown when Amy began to ‘look’ ill – when she was visibly at a very low weight – which, unfortunately, is another thing I relate very personally to.

Shape Created with Sketch. Amy Winehouse: Before the beehive

Show all 8 left Created with Sketch. right Created with Sketch. Amy at Osidge Primary School

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Amy at her brother Alex’s bar mitzvah

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A note Amy drew at school

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Amy singing and playing guitar with a friend in Amy Amy

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Amy Winehouse celebrates her birthday in Amy, from the makers of Senna

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Janis with Amy as a baby

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Island in the sun: Janis and her daughter Amy in healthier, happier times in St Lucia in 2009

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Amy Winehouse playing the guitar in Amy Amy

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Amy at Osidge Primary School Amy at her brother Alex’s bar mitzvah A note Amy drew at school Amy singing and playing guitar with a friend in Amy Amy Amy Winehouse celebrates her birthday in Amy, from the makers of Senna Janis with Amy as a baby Island in the sun: Janis and her daughter Amy in healthier, happier times in St Lucia in 2009 Amy Winehouse playing the guitar in Amy Amy

When I first went to my GP, three years into my illness, and explained that I was making myself sick several times every day, the first thing he did was weigh me. It was declared that I was, according to the BMI chart ‘not underweight’ and therefore ‘did not qualify’ for eating disorder treatment. I left thinking about the women I had seen in magazines, emaciated, child-like figures in white cotton underwear. They were the ones with the real eating disorders, I told myself, who deserved to benefit from the help available.

Contrary to received wisdom bulimia does not tend to cause weight loss in the same way as anorexia. Initial rapid weight loss is water, after which weight will plateau. B-eats official guidelines state that most people diagnosed with bulimia nervosa are within either a ‘normal’ or slightly overweight BMI. Yet cycles of bingeing, purging, compulsive exercising and starving places strain on the internals, which can lead to heart attack or organ failure.

Bulimia can be every bit as deadly as it’s more ‘glamorous’ sister, anorexia, yet there is still a stigma surrounding it – after all, it involves an awful lot of vomit, bile and excrement. It’s far more palatable to muse sadly on the prospect of a starving waif that to contemplate a slightly overweight person bent over a toilet bowl.

Early intervention might have saved Amy. We will never know. But with ‘EDNOS’ (‘Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified’ – a combination of symptoms which means a straightforward diagnosis of anorexia or bulimia nervosa cannot be made) now the most common diagnosis of eating disorder in the UK, it’s time GPs treated distress and behaviours as the first criteria for qualifying expedient help. Let’s learn from Amy and disregard the scales when measuring the impact eating disorders can have on those still lucky enough to be alive.

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