Given society's emphasis on physical appearances, it’s unsurprising that individuals regularly in the public eye feel the need to conform to the skinny beauty standard. Here, we present a list of courageous male celebrities who have openly discussed their battles with disordered eating and the challenges they have encountered regarding their body image.
Jordan developed an eating disorder following a particularly stressful period. He struggled to eat and keep food down, but didn’t realise that he could have an eating disorder because his condition didn’t fit into the well-known categories. Luckily, he was quickly diagnosed and has now recovered and is back to a healthy weight.
After leaving rehab for an addiction, Eminem started running to replace one addiction with a “healthier” one. Eventually this healthy pursuit became an unhealthy one, and he was running up to 17 miles a day, feeling the need to burn through calories. He has since lamented the fact that eating and exercise disorders in men are not given enough attention.
Elton first sought treatment in 1990 as he struggled with regular bingeing and purging episodes; he was addicted to food but paranoid about his weight. He now speaks openly about his struggles with bulimia, as well as many other causes he is passionate about.
While in One Direction, Zayn developed an eating disorder. He restricted his food intake and felt like it was the only thing in his life under his control. His eating disorder and severe anxiety forced him to cancel several gigs. He has since recovered and said he feels great.
Since starring in the movie Twilight, Taylor has struggled with body image issues. For New Moon, he spent almost every day in the gym and counted his calories. After the Twilight franchise, he stopped going to the gym and lost muscle, leading many to criticise his post-Twilight body. He learned to prioritise his mental health over what his body looked like, and he encourages others to do the same.
Ed, like his mentor Elton, has struggled with binge eating and purging, and was diagnosed with bulimia. He acknowledged that many people feel shame when they struggle with an eating disorder—especially as a man—which is why he felt it was important for himself to be open about it and raise awareness.
Russell developed bulimia and substance abuse after a lonely and abusive childhood. He is now learning to manage and recover from his eating disorder with a healthy diet and yoga.
Justin developed bulimia after being on long tours and struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. He was drinking and doing cocaine every night, and he would take laxatives to remain slim and avoid looking “as fat as Elvis in his later years.” He became happier and his health improved after leaving the band.
Billy would gain and lose weight for roles. For example, he lost a significant amount of weight for the film Pushing Tin. He obsessed over food and his weight, which may also have been related to his long-term struggle with OCD.
Dennis lost weight for his role in Wyatt Earp. He was so weak at one point that he could not lift himself up out of a pool. When he looked in the mirror while he was underweight, he would see someone much heavier, causing him to obsess over calories and exercise. He was able to get treatment and has since recovered.
At meet and greets, Tyler was taking so many pictures a day that it was hard not to think about how his body looked. He became insecure about his size and believed he was unloveable. He has since managed to overcome many of these issues.
Dealing with an eating disorder is tough on its own, but if you feel isolated or ashamed for having one, it becomes an even bigger battle. That's why we're sharing stories of these amazing people, to let you know that you're not alone and that recovery is possible.
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Zoe is an intern at Beanbag Health. She is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, majoring in Cognitive Science. Zoe is excited to be working at Beanbag Health and is passionate about its cause of making eating disorder and negative body image recovery easy and available. She is eager to see a world where mental health disorders are no longer stigmatized, and where anyone who needs care is be able to access it.
Clinically Reviewed By:
Iain is a consultant psychiatrist with postgraduate training in medicine, psychiatry, complexity science, and healthcare informatics. He's fascinated by the relationship between physical health and mental health and has extensive experience with eating disorder patients in inpatient settings. He's an honorary senior clinical lecturer at University of Oxford. His passion is making psychological strategies for recovery available to all.