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There's Nothing Glamorous About Eating Disorders Among Hollywood Stars

Or about anyone's eating disorder, period.
IMAGE Netflix

If you (or someone you know) need help or just want to talk to someone, especially regarding eating disorders, depression, or anxiety, you can get in touch with mental health facilities such as the UST Graduate School Psychotrauma Clinic, which offers free psychological services even to non-UST students.

The way Hollywood celebrities look perfect can make you think they don't have problems. Their social media posts—aside from those several paparazzi photos and ~*real*~ day-in-the-life clips—give you a sneak peek into their glitzy lives. Editorials featuring them also paint their lives as truly worth aspiring for. 

It was only recently that top celebs have revealed shocking details of their personal lives like being afflicted with a sensitive mental health condition. Selena Gomez, Anne Hathaway, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Alicia Keys are among the big stars who have opened up about battling depression and/or anxiety. Some Hollywood celebs have even admitted that they had body image issues, and a few have fought an even more sensitive mental health condition: an eating disorder.

What It Is and How It Happens

People with anorexia (the most common eating disorder) mainly have a distorted perception of their body; in other words, they feel fat despite having an extremely low body weight. They also have an irrepressible need to lose weight despite being bone-thin already. Some would also resort to starving themselves, vomiting what they eat, abusing laxatives, or excessively exercising to lose weight.

According to some experts, depression or anxiety can be the root of eating disorders like anorexia, but of course, so many factors can play into the picture. Usually, someone with these conditions lack emotional support and healthy relationships with others. That's why they don't see themselves in a good way, feel guilty when they eat (and possibly contribute to their gaining weight), and punish themselves.

Two girls even describe how the urge to starve themselves or purge what they "indulged in" right after eating it is uncontrollable—and very harmful to their health. One of the main factors is holding themselves to incredibly high standards, such as the lean and perfectly sculpted bodies of celebs who, unlike the everyday teenager, can afford to work out and eat expensive, nutritionist-approved diets.

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Celebs Who've Been There

Yes, those problems happen to Hollywood stars who may seem like they have all the pleasures they could hope for and an abundance of people who genuinely care about them. ICYDK, the beautiful Lily Collins revealed in her book Unfiltered and in an interview earlier this year that she also battled with eating disorders as a teenager.

This made her role in the Netflix movie To the Bone so personal yet also tough to bring to life. Collins said, "It caused me to have to emotionally go there, but in a way that was the most safe, healthy way possible with a nutritionist, and really to physically go there but also emotionally and it did require a different set of emotional skills, to kind of go back in time for me, with you know, my experiences." (via Cosmopolitan.com.au)

If you watched Pretty Little Liars, you'll know Troian Bellisario, one of the main cast members. Surprisingly, she has also opened up about her struggles with anorexia and used it as inspiration in a movie she wrote entitled Feed. Bellisario explains, "What I wanted to do with the film was get the audience to understand what it sounds like and what it feels like to be struggling with that illness." (via TeenVogue.com

Controversy Surrounding Movies With the Theme

Of course, it can't be helped that there are critics to eye-opening movies like To the Bone and Feed. With beautiful actresses playing the role of someone with anorexia, some say that the condition is being glamorized. Collins and Bellisario even had to lose weight to look their parts, which is common among actors and actresses but was dangerous for someone who has recovered from the condition.

The producers admit that the movies could be triggering to patients (To the Bone and other films with mental health themes come with a warning to viewers before they start). However, while what they truly aim to do through their projects is to spark conversations about the conditions, which are otherwise taboos in society.

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More often than not, people with eating disorders fail to get the appropriate help or suffer for so long before getting it simply because their condition is misunderstood, stigmatized or even ignored by the people around them.

Even A-list celebs go through these life-threatening struggles, and for average people—especially teenagers—the best that others could do is to keep an open mind to the situation and help them seek treatment. Moreover, people have to realize that it's more than just wanting to look thin.

If you or someone you know needs a more gruesome picture of what eating disorders can feel like, there's a short film called Likeness starring Elle Fanning. Be warned, though, that the film is equal parts artistic and disturbing. It represents the wild thoughts that run through the head of someone with an eating disorder whenever he or she is triggered. The good thing about the film is how it can make someone ignorant or apathetic realize that anorexia is not something you can take lightly.

Being Praised or Rewarded for Losing Weight

Aside from helping someone seek treatment, what celebs and other people who've opened up about their eating disorders make you realize is the impact of how you connect with other people. Collins recalled how a friend paid her a compliment when she lost weight for the Netflix movie.

In an interview with The EDIT, NET-A-PORTER.com's digital magazine, she said, "I was leaving my apartment one day and someone I've known for a long time, my mom's age, said to me, 'Oh, wow, look at you!' I tried to explain [I had lost weight for a role] and she goes, 'No! I want to know what you’re doing, you look great!' I got into the car with my mom and said, 'That is why the problem exists.'"

"Little" things like this happen every day—not only to celebs but also to others who could be struggling with eating disorders and other anxieties about their image. Without people bravely opening up how they went through the same issue and how they rose above it, those who are left suffering wouldn't find the motivation to get better.

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At the end of the day, being sensitive to others and caring about their feelings are among the most important ways we could help each other.  

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Ginyn Noble
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