Richa Chadda has been making waves with her recent comments on the subject of bulimia and how eating disorders are Bollywood’s best kept secret.
Richa, who will be presenting a TEDx talk on her own fight with bulimia has talked about how she went from being a secure, confident young woman when living with her family in Delhi, to feeling like she had been hit by a “wrecking ball” after she entered the film industry.
Conflicting advice on how she should gain weight and then, how she should shed the pounds, led Richa to exercise frenetically to build up certain aspects of her figure, and then starve herself to get slimmer.
In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, Richa even said that it was watching Asif Kapadia’s documentary on Amy Winehouse (whose bulimia was shown in the film) that made her break down, and realise she needed to deal with her problem.
While Richa has spoken so openly about her struggle with food, there aren’t many other Bollywood actors who will admit that they have suffered from an eating disorder.
At various times, the shrinking frames of one or the other of our actors has been a cause of concern, but most have chosen to give the standard, “I’m just eating healthy” or “it’s my metabolism” or “I can’t put on weight even if I try” response.
But there are other celebrities, like Richa, who’ve been far more open about their complicated relationship with food, and their appearances.
for Glamour magazine, she wrote about being told for the first time — at the age of eight — that she was fat. The words struck deep and Mamet went on a destructive diet, which took her to the brink by the time she was 17. Fortunately for Mamet, her family helped her seek (and stick with) treatment. She has written of the conflicting emotions food roused in her:
“As a teenager I used to stand in front of the refrigerator late at night staring into that white fluorescent light, debilitated by the war raging inside me: whether to give in to the pitted hunger in my stomach or close the door and go back to bed. I would stand there for hours, opening and closing the door, taking out a piece of food then putting it back in; taking it out, putting it in my mouth, and then spitting it into the garbage.”
Pop star Kesha told her fans about her eating disorder and then entered a 30-day rehab facility to get treated for it. “I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself, but I’ve found it hard to practice. I’ll be seeking treatment for my eating disorder, to learn to love myself again, exactly as I am,” Kesha told People magazine at the time. Her eating disorders were reportedly triggered by her allegedly absve relationship with music producer Dr Luke, who it seems told her she looked like a “fu***** refrigerator”. Since she sought treatment for her disorder, Kesha has reportedly been looking healthier and happier.
Pop stars Demi Lovato and Paula Abdul have both been as open as Kesha about the long road to recovery from bulimia. In fact, Abdul “came out” all the way back in 1995, and spoke about how she had lived with bulimia for over 15 years, and was learning to come to terms with it. “There have been many times when I sat and clenched my hands and said, ‘Okay, Paula, you’re feeling really upset about what you just ate and it’s not healthy. Get over it’,” Abdul said of how she tried to work on her deeply ingrained thoughts about her weight.
Fuller House star Candace Cameron Bure has said that she never suffered from any body image issues when she was a child star. But after she got married and became a mom, she found that she struggled with her relationship with food. “It was like getting on a moving train that was moving at a 100 miles an hour, and I couldn’t get off of it and I didn’t know how,” Candace has said, of the binge-and-purge routine she got hooked to. “And at that moment I knew I had to seek help from others, and it wasn’t just something I could do on my own.”
Actresses Portia De Rossi (who has said that she went on her first diet at the age of 12, and once, went without eating for a whole 10 days — she wrote about this in her book Unbearable Lightness) and Calista Flockhart (who blamed her eating disorder on the stress and exhaustion from her hit TV show Ally McBeal) have also had inspiring stories about getting back to normalcy.
It isn’t just the women. Male celebrities like comedian Russell Brand and Dennis Quaid have talked about suffering from anorexia. Quaid famously said, “For many years, I was obsessed about what I was eating, how many calories it had, and how much exercise I’d have to do.” Pop icon Elton John too addressed the issue in his autobiography, saying that his bulimia was something he had in commn with close friend Princess Diana.
“It was so nice to talk to someone — ‘Oh, you did that too?’” Elton had said about ‘comparing notes on their eating disorder, with Diana. “And she said it was so awkward to run to the toilet after the meal… It helps you feel not so bad about yourself, and it’s a little bit of camaraderie.”
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