The pressure of the limelight can be a high price to pay for fame. From the silver screen era of early Hollywood to the youngest and hottest stars of today, celebrities have always faced constant scrutiny for fluctuations in weight and appearance. Criticisms and expectations to maintain an ideal "thin" weight from agents, directors and the media have led many celebrities into the danger zone where treatment has been necessary to help them recover from a diagnosed eating disorder. For others, tabloid photographs and musings over their weight fluctuations, cellulite or a protruding bone have contributed to the onset of eating disorders for many famous female celebrities.
In this article, we look at a list of female celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to Ke$ha who have been noted as getting too thin at some point in their careers, and look at the reasons behind their struggles with weight and eating in our culture. In a chaotic world, controlling weight can be the only way we feel in control of things, or we may just get so busy that we forget to prioritize ourselves and make sure that were are cared for and healthy. Fluctuating weight, using the gym a little too often, or suffering depression and loss of appetite are some of the many reasons for looking too thin.
Here’s a list of 14 strong and successful women who have come under scrutiny for getting on the thin side and the possible how’s and why’s behind the pictures. Fortunately, many of them have overcome their problems.
14 Nicole Richie
Another celebrity who has suffered with a serious eating disorder, Nicole Richie, daughter of famous singer Lionel Richie, came into fame starring on The Simple Life, a reality TV show with her then-bestie Paris Hilton. Back then, Richie had an average body type with gorgeous curves. Through the ringer of Hollywood, however, Richie has had her fair share of battles, and dropping to a below healthy weight has been one of them. While images of Richie looking shockingly thin and accusations of anorexia ran rife some time back, Richie appeared recently on the Chelsea Handler show looking petite but much healthier, and we’re happy that being a mom agrees with her so much. Eating issues can often go hand in hand with other mental health issues and Richie shows that if you attack them head on with complete honesty, you can turn your life around. Kudos to her for beating it.
13 Karen Carpenter
The death of 1970s singer Karen Carpenter from anorexia-related complications is probably the most tragic story related to celebrity weight. Dragged into the spotlight to sing alongside her brother Richard, the two teenagers formed the pop duo The Carpenters, who’s fame skyrocketed throughout the 1970s, in large part due to Karen’s hauntingly beautiful voice. Introverted Karen was pushed into a world tour, which took a toll on her physically and mentally, in addition to having to soothe her brother's ego, as he was extremely jealous of his sister’s popularity. So little was known about anorexia a few decades back that Karen was not given the help she needed until it was far too late. While struggling to cope for months and months, she rampantly denied any issues with eating, stating that she’d been sick with the flu. Unfortunately, the anorexia caused her body to shut down with cardiovascular failure. A tragic waste of a beautiful soul, Karen is a reminder to get help when you need it.
12 Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie’s struggle with an eating disorder was one of the most personal public battles splashed across the tabloids in recent years, as she is one of the most famous and successful actresses of the last two decades and one-half of the ultimate Hollywood power couple Brangelina. Seeing photos of Jolie looking unwell and clearly suffering was both shocking and difficult. From strong Lara Croft to smoldering curvaceous Mrs. Smith, she has always been known for an amazing body with just the right amount of curves. Her admission of an eating disorder and the rife stories running through the media meant that fame had to go on hold while she addressed health concerns. Evidence of how much of a battle an eating disorder can become came when news of Brad and Ange’s separation broke. Healing from the trauma of an eating disorder and a breakup doesn’t happen overnight, even if you’re Angelina Jolie.
11 Taylor Swift
Standing at 5'11" with her long, willowy figure and those legs insured for millions, Taylor Swift has always been slim. She blew-up country music charts as a teenager and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the last few years have seen Taylor’s fame and success continue to grow exponentially as she’s taken the world of mainstream pop by storm. In 2009, Taylor commenced her transition from goldilocks country cutie to the svelte power-femme look she sports today. She’s always been fit, healthy and naturally lean. Looking at her appearance from a few years ago to now, it’s clear that Taylor has definitely lost weight, whether as a result of hectic tour schedules, hanging out with supermodels or dieting, we don’t know. Taylor has always denied any rumors of eating issues with a shrug and a “haters gonna hate” attitude -- we hope she’s looking after herself and staying healthy.
10 Audrey Hepburn
Lithe and lean Breakfast at Tiffany’s star Audrey Hepburn always had an uneasy relationship with food. Naturally thin, Hepburn was one of the first actresses to break onto the screen in the late 1950’s in Roman Holiday and Sabrina with a different figure than the idealized hourglass curves of that era. While all kinds of bodies should be visible and celebrated, Hepburn’s body type became idealized by many women in decades to follow as the perfect figure to pull off her simple, chic style. While Audrey was petite, there were fluctuations in her weight throughout her career wherein she became very, very thin. A trained ballet dancer, Audrey spent her teen years in the Netherlands during the German occupation when starvation was rife. Audrey survived through the freezing winter famine of 1942, hiding in a cellar for several months from Nazis and emerging severely malnourished and anemic, which no doubt affected her later in life.
9 Victoria Beckham
From being singer Posh Spice to running her own designer clothing label and being married to one of the hottest and most highly paid sports players in history, Victoria Beckham’s life seems to have gone from good to great. Yet early days in the Spice girls set the precedent for the pressure for Posh to stay thin, along with fellow group mates Ginger and Sporty (Geri Halliwell and Mel C); all three have since dealt with fluctuating weight and the media releasing photos commenting on weight loss. While Victoria Beckham has always had a lean physique, photos have surfaced at various time of her looking dramatically thin and bony -- all collarbones and elbows. While some have suggested Posh is suffering from an eating disorder, others seem to think this is a result of her strict routine. Posh definitely looks great with a few extra kilos on, and amazing in her designer pencil dresses at any size.
8 Mary Kate Olsen
Arguably the more artistic and intriguing of the two Olsen twins, Mary Kate Olsen has cultivated her reputation as a style setter of bohemian chic, with her own eclectic taste appearing in just about every outfit in her photos. From being a child-star with her sister Ashley in Full House to mega-franchises and Hollywood flicks, MK has grown up in the spotlight and that can’t always be easy, which may explain why so many child actors and actresses seem to experience significant downfalls. With so much going on, controlling eating can be the only form of sanity to grasp, and while MK seems like a sweet, kind and strong woman, her confirmed battle with anorexia caused many of her fans shock and sadness. Healing is a journey with high points and low points, and MK has all the support around her to keep looking after herself and staying healthy. Here’s to onwards and upwards!
7 Miley Cyrus
From the household name, Hanna Montana, kids all over the world loved and adored the star, as they grew up admiring everything about her. She was young, beautiful, happy and full of life. The fame and fortune at such a young age did take a toll on the her, as it often does. A few years back, the world saw a change in the star as she was growing up and shedding her 'good girl' image. Soon after she was just known as Miley, the wild woman who could not be told what to do. Her wild antics made headlines and soon after people were shocked by the star's thin figure. It may have been stress, dieting or worse, we don't know. But Cyrus seems to be a little bit more calm recently, less like a wrecking ball. We hope to see her looking like her healthy self soon.
6 Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was a 1950’s blonde bombshell, the ultimate sex symbol remembered for her curves, but even she struggled with keeping her weight on an even keel. While Marilyn is often held up as the icon who made it sexy to have a little more flesh on your bones, like she does in the classic Some Like It Hot, this wasn’t always the case. Marilyn’s diet yo-yo’d a lot throughout her life, affected by her struggle with depression, alcoholism and prescription drugs. While there was a period of time in which Marilyn looked healthy, other times she appeared a bit bigger, with the pressure of Hollywood causing rapid weight loss too. Some of her costumes displayed in museum’s these days are tiny -- far smaller than what we would consider curvy today. Marilyn reminds us that you can struggle with self-image and eating whatever size you are, and however gorgeous you are.
5 Arianna Grande
Disney child-star Arianna Grande has spent the last couple of years transforming from a young kid to a full grown star with a style all of her own. With her doe-eyes, luscious brown hair and wicked new style, Arianna is heading for a long and successful pop music career. She’s in the inner circle of "It Girls" in Hollywood now, teaming up with some of the hottest performers out there to make music. Whether it’s emerging from adolescence or a bit of Hollywood pressure, media outlets have posted numerous photos from Arianna’s concerts in which it’s clear the star has lost a significant amount of weight. Naturally short and petite, Arianna’s slimmer look may be an indication of hard work and fitness, but reports have highlighted that she may be looking a little too bony than is healthy. We hope she looks after herself and does not fall into the same trap in which so many others have succumb!
4 Jane Fonda
Now in her 70’s, the Jane Fonda we know today looks like a gorgeous and healthy grandmotherly type, but this wasn’t always the case. Fonda was a veritable sex symbol in the late 60s and 70s, earning fame for her appearance in the cult classic Barbarella. Later in the 80s, Fonda made a huge name for herself launching her aerobics brand -- complete with VHS tapes, leg-warmers and high-cut leotards. While a committed gym junkie, Fonda explains in later interviews that she was “obsessed with her weight” and suffered anorexia for decades. The pressure of maintaining the body for which she became famous pushed Fonda into an ongoing eating disorder in her mid-life, where she became way too thin. Listening to Fonda talk about the elements that played into her struggle with diet and exercise over a long period is a great way to understand the kind of pressures that affect us and our weight.
3 Lindsay Lohan
From underweight to overweight, Lindsay Lohan has been under the media's microscope and in the tabloids constantly. Another child star who faced scrutiny throughout her adolescence, puberty and young adulthood, Lohan has struggled in the spotlight and certainly learned the price of fame. With reports surfacing constantly of her binge dieting and partying, it must be hard for Lohan to keep things together. There’s definitely been points in her career in which she has looked alarmingly thin and rundown. While a healthy, comfortable-looking Lohan looked gorgeous in Mean Girls over a decade ago, it’s been a roller coaster ride since, and criticisms about her weight have been flung on both the too-fat and too-thin sides. We hope that Lohan can take a break from the pressure and know that her self-worth is not found on the scales -- a lesson we all need to hear from time to time. It just goes to show the negative impact the media can have on young women.
2 Mischa Barton
In 2003, a fresh face appeared on a hot new TV show that was to be huge with those in their teens at the time -- The OC. Hearts soared watching the romance of delicate beauty queen Marissa Cooper and bad-boy with a soft heart Ryan Atwood. But actress Mischa Barton’s life has followed a similar trajectory as that of her character. While Marissa descended into depression with binge drinking and drugs, Mischa Barton had her fair share of struggles off-screen. Always very slim and a little angular on the show, the media was quick to publish photos of Mischa’s noticeably fluctuating weight afterward. While poor Misch was trashed for gaining weight from prescription meds, the media didn’t like her getting too thin either, splashing images of a gaunt and pasty post-OC actress as well. Hopefully, after a few years out of the limelight, Mischa has had a break from the pressure.
Before Kate Moss, there was Twiggy. Twiggy may be the ultimate symbol of the new era of thin-chic born in the 1960s. With the emergence of Mod Culture in London, the conservative full skirts and cardigans of the 1950s melted away and sheath dresses and pencil skirts appeared en force. At just 16, Twiggy broke onto British Vogue as the poster girl for a different kind of body. It would be easy to think that the mods, with their geometric colors, thick licks of eyeliner and tunic dresses covering spindly bodies just woke up at the turn of the decade with the right body for the job, but that’s doubtful. It’s been said that the mod style and those pulling the strings were championing an unhealthy size most women can’t (and shouldn’t) achieve. Twiggy’s sparrow-like body has been noted as being frighteningly thin many times. You can check out a healthy-looking Twiggy fifty years later on America’s Next Top Model.