Getting skinny in Hollywood is unfortunately the norm, especially when it comes to actresses. They’re told the camera adds 10 pounds, so they’d better lose those added 10 – and then some. The pressure to be thin – even if it’s not their natural physical frame – is pervasive, and many actresses have spoken out about directors and producers ordering them to drop weight in order to score a role. Unsurprisingly, it has led to instances of eating disorders and other unhealthy behaviours that harm these women not only physically, but mentally and emotionally.
Fortunately, some actresses manage to come back from the brink. Of these 15 celebrities, all at one point had us worried with how scary-skinny they had gotten, and had us breathing a huge sigh of relief when we saw them next looking healthier – and happier – than we’d ever see them before. Not ever actress – or even every person – comes back for the better from an eating disorder or extreme diet (anorexia nervosa is said to be the deadliest mental illness there is, with a 20% fatality rate), but these 15 ladies are the lucky ones who bounced back from looking like they were hovering on the brink of death.
15 Zoë Kravitz
If an actress has previously suffered from an eating disorder, it’s probably not a good idea for them to go method and take on a role that requires them to drop weight again, but that’s exactly what Zoë Kravitz did for her part in the 2014 film The Road Within, which saw her playing a 90-pound anorexic. The film required Kravitz to drop an extra 20 pounds of her already-slight frame, which she did by eating only puréed vegetables and drinking clay!
Unlike her battle with anorexia, this time around Kravitz turned to family and friends to prevent herself from retreating to that dark place, although she admitted that part of her didn’t want to gain back the weight she’d lost, which scared her. Fortunately, she did, and looks amazing for having done so!
14 Miley Cyrus
Unhappiness can play a major role in weight loss, and despite her insistence on living a good life and touring with a new, edgier image, it seemed that her breakup from former fiancé Liam Hemsworth really took a toll on Miley Cyrus’s health.
Turning to yoga and Pilates for exercise and adopting a vegan diet, it seemed that Cyrus wasn’t eating much of anything and partying to the point of exhaustion. She looked frail, with jutting bones and a stringy energy that seemed to push her to the edge as she rocked out in concert in barely-there outfits. Thankfully, Cyrus reconnected with Hemsworth and her music, putting out an album that hearkened back to her country roots. Clearly, happiness does a body good and Cyrus looks softer, happier, and more in love than ever before!
Snooki aka Nicole Polizzi has been open about her battle with anorexia when she was a cheerleader in high school, burning down to 80 lbs. – tiny on her 4”9 frame. When we were first introduced to the pint-sized guidette on the MTV reality show Jersey Shore, though, Snooki looked a little heavier, the result of boozing and a poor diet. All of the criticism following the show’s popularity clearly got to Snooki, though, who then whittled herself down to 98 pounds in 2011, which, coupled with her big hair, made her look a little lollipop-like.
Fortunately for Snooki and her health, though, after giving birth to two children with husband Jionni LaValle, she put back on some of the weight, but in a healthy way that went to all the right places. Now, clearly enjoying being a guidette mommy, Snooki looks happier and more full of life than we’ve ever seen her!
12 Nicole Scherzinger
Nicole Scherzinger of The Pussycat Dolls has been very open about her battle with body image and eating disorders, which began when the singer and dancer was just 14 and grew exponentially during her time with the scantily-clad girl group. In fact, her issues were so deeply ingrained in the star that she didn’t speak out about them until 2014, a few months after people began noticing that Scherzinger was looking unhealthily thin.
While she’s said that she has since become “more accepting” of her body, it’s still not a straightforward battle, as is evidenced by photos that appeared in 2015 following a breakup that showed Scherzinger looking too thin again. As of this year, however, she looks amazing, with killer curves and killer confidence that we all wish we could rock!
11 Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan’s battles with body image, drug addiction, and her own family are well-documented, and while Lohan definitely doesn’t look as incredible as she did when she first burst onto the Hollywood scene, thanks to her years of addiction and abuse, she certainly looks healthier than she did in 2006!
In 2006, Lohan was interviewed by Vanity Fair, in which she admitted, “I was sick…I had people sit me down and say, ‘You’re going to die if you don’t take care of yourself.’”, which many attributed to Lohan’s battle with bulimia. The same year, Mean Girls costars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler took Lohan to task on Saturday Night Live, telling the actress that she was too skinny. After some success and health, Lohan lost weight again in 2009 (pictured), when she was in the midst of her tumultuous relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson, but has since managed to return to a healthy weight.
10 Ashlee Simpson
The Simpson sisters just can’t catch a break! While older sister Jessica was humiliated and scrutinized for gaining “too much” weight during her pregnancy, little sister Ashlee was criticized for dropping too much weight and looking scary-skinny as a result.
Simpson has been open about having struggled with body image since she was a young girl in her ballet class, saying that she felt bigger than the other girls, and she’s also alluded to the competition she feels with her older sister in her music, most notably with the song “Pieces of Me”. Simpson has undergone a great deal of stress and her weight first began to noticeably drop following her split from Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and then when she was appearing on the rebooted Melrose Place. Having found a happier marriage with new hubby Evan Ross, Simpson looks much better – and healthier! – for it.
9 Demi Moore
When the heart feels empty, the stomach can be, too. Heartbreak is a common thread we’ve seen among the women on this list who plummeted to scary-skinny levels, because it acts as a way to control a part of your life when the rest of it feels chaotic. Such was the case for Demi Moore, who sparked worries about her health following her dramatic split from Ashton Kutcher in 2011.
Being the older woman in the marriage, reports said that Moore was desperate to look younger, and chose to lose weight to do so, which had the opposite effect. Combined with the stress and partying following the breakup, Moore looked terribly ill. Since then, however, she’s bounced back and looks incredible, as seen in this photo from the premiere of Rough Night just this past June!
8 Portia de Rossi
When it comes to in-depth insight into an eating disorder, one needs to check out Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness, in which the actress details her decades-long battle with anorexia, which really came to a head when she was starring on the TV show Ally McBeal. At that time, all the actresses on the show were tiny, to better compete with the titular star, Calista Flockhart, who earned a fair amount of ink for her shockingly tiny frame. De Rossi followed suit, and it became an obsession for her, to the point where she would run on a treadmill to work off the calories in a stick of gum.
Crediting her relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for pulling her out of that darkness, de Rossi is less obsessed with her physical appearance and it is clearly working for her – in mind, body, and spirit.
7 Leann Rimes
Leann Rimes got a lot of publicity for her shrinking physique in 2011 – almost as much as she was for having ditched her husband Dean Sheremet to hook up with also-married costar Eddie Cibrian! While the first blush of love should make anyone glow with happiness, Rimes was filled with stress and anxiety as the media picked apart her relationship and Cibrain’s soon-to-be ex-wife Brandi Glanville gave frank interviews to every outlet she could get her hands on.
By 2013, fortunately, Rimes had put back on some pounds, and admitted that she was too thin in the previous years and that in fact she was happy to have a “little more meat” on her! Clearly, the attitude has stuck, because the right photo is her just this past summer, and she looks fantastic!
6 Jessica Alba
Being the poster girl for a gorgeous body didn’t come without its own set of issues: just ask Jessica Alba,
Back in 1999 when Alba first nabbed her starring role on the TV series Dark Angel, the actress began to work out to the extreme, whittling herself down to 100 lbs., saying she “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,” she explained. Up until the birth of her first daughter, Haven, Alba struggled with body image, occasionally called “skeletal” when bikini photos of her surfaced. Now pregnant with her third child (although not in the second image), Alba looks amazing and seems to have taken a healthy and “Honest” approach to eating and exercise!
5 Nicole Richie
Nicole Richie got a lot of flack for going to dangerous lows in 2006, when this first image was taken. Prior to this, Richie had a little more meat on her bones, although she wasn’t entirely healthy because of it. During 2006, however, the socialite and fashion designer looked dangerously thin and incredibly ill.
Unlike most of the other celebs on this list, Richie never admitted point-blank to having an eating disorder, although the visuals speak for themselves. (To her credit, Richie did say, “I know I’m too thin right now,” and admitted that she didn’t want little girls to emulate her.) While Richie is still admittedly slim, she doesn’t look nearly so unhealthy and, two children, sobriety, and a happy marriage later, seems to be living her best life and looking like her best self!
4 Lily Collins
Like Zoë Kravitz, Lily Collins also incorporated a method approach when she was cast in the Netflix film To The Bone, which followed a young girl battling anorexia. This time, however, Collins regularly checked in with her doctor to ensure that she was losing the weight safely, but it’s still not something that we recommend to anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder.
Photos surfaced of Collins looking unhealthily thin when filming and preproduction were underway but the project was still under wraps, so you can imagine our relief when we saw her later looking much healthier and happier! Since extreme weight loss can eat away at muscle, seeing a strong set of abs on Collins looks like she’s fuelling her body the way she needs to.
3 Demi Lovato
Possibly the most outspoken celebrity on this list, Demi Lovato was honest with fans when she entered rehab for treatment of bulimia and self-mutilation in 2010. Lovato stated that she had had body image issues since the age of four, when she thought she was fat and that going through puberty in front of the world as a Disney star didn’t help matters. Drug use – specifically cocaine – and purging whittled Lovato down to a slip of a thing, but she fortunately bounced back to become a force to be reckoned with and a beacon of recovery for those who continue to struggle.
Keeping to the frank personality we know her for, Lovato has aid that she knows recovery will not be a straight line and that she won’t be “cured”. “Recovery doesn’t have a day off,” she’s said. “I just think you keep going.”
2 Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga has been criticized for almost everything. She’s been too weird, too straight, too gay, too thin, too fat. Following her Super Bowl performance at this year’s halftime show, some idiots thought that Gaga had “let herself go”, pointing to the softer stomach that she revealed in her costume. Gaga’s struggles with weight are well-known, and the 5”2 star has fluctuated from heavier to extremely thin, like in the “Born This Way” video, which is where the first image is from. In response to her critics (who had published a series of unflattering Photoshopped images of the artist in 2012), Gaga admitted to having suffered from bulimia and anorexia since she was a teenager. Since then, she seems to have embraced her natural form, which does fluctuate depending on her touring schedule, but nevertheless looks incredible.
1 Hilary Duff
Around the same time that Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate Olsen, and Nicole Richie were getting press coverage for being scary-skinny, Hilary Duff had quietly made her own headlines for looking unhealthily thin with a new set of veneers that made her thin face look even longer. Duff admitted that there was no one triggering instance that caused her weight loss – which saw her drop to 100 pounds – but that she became more aware of photos of her and what people said about her. She was also involved in a stressful, high-profile relationship with Joel Madden, who was eight years her senior when she was 16.
Fortunately, since getting too skinny for her frame, Duff has since become a gorgeously curvy mom of one who simply tries to eat healthy rather than worry about counting things like fat and calories.