Due to the demand for tremendous beauty among celebrities, severe extremes are often sought in order to attain specific beauty standards. Among various celebrities, the pressures to maintain a low weight in Hollywood have led to the occurrence of eating disorders. The scrutiny of weight in Hollywood among celebrities has no doubt transferred onto pop-culture followers. At the same time, celebrities who have publicly spoken about their personal battles with eating disorders have often helped those out of the limelight who suffer.
While many models claim their waif-like bodies are natural and a result of a fast metabolism, current plus-size model Kate Dillon was never part of that crew. As a child, Dillon was always overweight, with the nickname, "Overweight Kate." This all changed starting at age twelve, when Dillon watched a television movie, ironically called, Kate's Secret, which, for Dillon, glamorized anorexia (NOVA online). From that point on, until age nineteen, Kate continuously struggled with anorexia. Speaking on behalf of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week at the University of Michigan in 2002, Dillon explained how she felt during her battle with anorexia (when she was a high-fashion model, rather than a plus-size model). Dillon explained that during this time, she was overwhelmed by the images and expectations that she felt media and society held. Dillon also spoke about her reality check, which happened when Harper's Bazaar magazine praised her after a fashion show for which she had starved herself for weeks. After consulting a nutritionist, and eventually recovering from anorexia, Dillon was no longer desired as a "skinny" model, but instead as a plus-size model. Dillon has served as a role model to many young girls who are currently battling eating disorders and to those who are recovering and struggling to accept their new bodies and lives.
But eating disorders don't just affect female models and celebrities; men can fall victim to Hollywood pressures to be thin as well. In 1998, the Hollywood bad boy Billy Bob Thornton (1955-) shocked the public when he talked openly for the first time about his battle with anorexia (Ryan 1998). Not only is it unusual for a celebrity to admit to having an eating disorder, but the occurrences of a male celebrity admitting to or having an eating disorder are even more exceptional. Thornton first told The Los Angeles Daily News, "Frankly, for a while there, I think had a little mental problem . . . I got anorexic; of course I denied it to my girlfriend [then Laura Dern] and everyone else who said I had an eating disorder." Thornton trimmed down 59 pounds, from 197 to 138, during his battle with anorexia. Thornton public admittance of an eating disorder popularized the notion and reality that men can and do have eating disorders.
Mary-Kate Olsen (1986-) is another member of the "young Hollywood" elite. She is an actress and an entrepreneur along with her twin sister Ashley. The pair made their television debut in infancy on the sitcom Full House. As a result of the twins' clothing line, home videos, and other commercial items, they are reportedly worth $150 million each. Due to overall thinness, the public began to question an eating disorder in Mary-Kate. Her publicist made a statement in June 2004 admitting that the actress did indeed have an eating disorder, though declined to comment on which one specifically. Tabloids worldwide cite anorexia as the source of Mary-Kate Olsen's rapid weight loss; however, she has never admitted to this (Thomas 2004).
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