Entertainment | Celebrity

Stars back from the brink of self-destruction

Starvation, bingeing and crippling insecurity: The brave A-list women and the eating disorders that almost destroyed them

  • By Catherine Langley, Deputy Editor, Scene magazine
  • Published: 00:00 December 20, 2012
  • Scene

  • Image Credit: Getty Images
  • Nicole is on the road to recovery.
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Nicole Scherzinger
When former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger opened up about her fight with bulimia she was applauded for her honesty. Revealing the full extent of her illness, the X Factor presenter admitted that her eight-year battle with the disease took over her life and became her addiction as she gave in to the urge of daily binges. “I was really so disgusted with myself and so embarrassed. I did it every day for, like, years. Every time I had a second to be alone, I was doing something to myself.”

Her admission may come as a surprise to fans, as the 34-year-old has always given off an air of confidence in her physique. But behind the façade of self-assurance Nicole has revealed a vulnerable side. “I was not comfortable with my body…. I was in a group, and never felt so alone in my life.”

While Nicole kept her illness as a closely guarded secret, the singer admits the signs were there. “You get, like, blisters on your hands or scars on your hands, and I’d try to hide those. I never spoke about it. Like I said, I never want to play a victim, and I never wanted my family to hear about things from me because I think it would break their heart.”

Fortunately bulimia is a thing of the past for Nicole and she credits her F1 champ boyfriend, Lewis Hamilton, with helping her turn the corner. “[Hamilton] gave me the courage to kind of end that disorder and that disease. He made me feel beautiful for who I am and not what pant size I’m wearing. A little light came on in the back of my head and that’s when I started to try and turn this around.”

Lady Gaga
Never one to shy away from controversy, Lady Gaga is another celeb to wade in on the body debate. Having gained around 25 pounds in the last few months, the Speechless superstar recently fired back at tabloid criticism of her weight by posting photos of herself wearing only her underwear. Splashing the images across her LittleMonsters.com blog, she captioned them with ‘Bulimia and anorexia since I was 15’, to show that she is struggling with an eating disorder but taking care of herself. She has encouraged other women to post their pictures in a bid to raise awareness. She wrote, “Hey Guys, it’s Gaga… Now that the body revolution has begun, be brave and post a photo of yourself that celebrates our triumph over insecurities.” The page has already received hundreds of photos.

Lucy Hale
Like so many starlets before her, Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale has admitted to struggling with an eating disorder. The 23-year-old actress, who began her career at the age of 14 on the short-lived reality TV competition American Juniors, confessed to practicing unhealthy habits in order to keep the weight off. “I’ve never really talked about this,” the pint-sized brunette spilled recently. “But I would go days without eating… Or maybe I’d have some fruit and then go to the gym for three hours. I knew I had a problem… It was a gradual process but I changed myself.”

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Jessica Alba
While she has one of most envied bodies in the world, it hasn’t always been plain sailing for Jessica Alba. The Sin City star confessed that she lived under the shadow of anorexia in the early noughties while starring in hit TV show Dark Angel, and at one point dropped to 100 pounds. “A lot of girls have eating disorders, and I did too,” confessed the 31-year-old actress. “I got obsessed with it. When I went from a girl’s body to a woman’s body with natural fat in places, I freaked out. It makes you feel weird, like you’re not ready for that body.” Jess, who also suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder during her childhood, says she became aware or her body shape from a young age. “Everyone in my family is heavily overweight and I wanted to be healthier, so I started cooking for myself when I was 12.”

Demi Lovato
Last year singer and actress Demi Lovato slammed her former employer, the Disney Channel, for a joke about eating disorders on TV show Shake It Up. Having battled with bulimia and anorexia since childhood, the Shadow singer took issue with a character on the show saying, “I could just eat you up, well, if I ate.” While the network was quick to apologise, Demi still took to Twitter to voice her disgust, remarking, “What are we promoting here? Really funny how a company can lose one of their actresses from the pressures of an eating disorder and yet still make jokes about that very disease.” The recovered 20-year-old now talks openly about her struggles in a bid to raise awareness.

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