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Celebrities Speaking Out About Eating Disorders: Helpful or Harmful?

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Celebrities are spokespersons for everything from tangible objects like makeup to issues like women’s rights and combating domestic violence. They are even reaching out to the general public about health issues and even psychological disorders.

But is it always helpful when celebrities talk about their own struggles with these conditions, or in some cases does it encourage others to pursue an unhealthy lifestyle to become famous?

Demi Lovato is a recent example of a celebrity who has come out to the public about her psychological issues, including her struggles with bulimia and self-mutilation, according to an ABC News article.

“When celebrities confess to eating disorders, consumers may become more aware that there is a high price to pay for trying to live up to the ideal body image portrayed in media,” said Melanie Greenberg, a clinical health psychologist in California, in an email.

“If celebrities talk about negative effects, such as decreased fertility, this may be particularly educational and helpful. Also, if they discuss warning signs, this may help to make girls, families and friends more aware of what to look out for and when to seek help.”

Since many young women look up to celebrities, it is a positive choice in many situations when celebrities share their experiences.

“Some research also shows many young women emulate celebrities or media role models,” Greenberg said. “Therefore, if the celebrity confesses and seeks help, this may help young girls to feel less ashamed and make them more likely to also seek help.”

Stacey Rosenfeld, a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and body image, agrees with Greenberg.

“Overall, I think it's helpful for the public to understand that celebrities struggle, too, particularly when their looks are often portrayed as effortless,” Rosenfeld said in an email.

“I think the more celebrities come out about struggles [with eating disorders], the more of a public voice there is about these disorders, which can help [individuals] recognize symptoms in themselves, and possibly promote a culture of identification and treatment.”

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.