Standing 5ft 8in, and weighing only 59 pounds Valeria Levitin is little more than skin and bones. Yesterday, Mail Online reported that Levitin, 39, has been dieting her entire life. She has shared her story in the hopes of deterring others from succumbing to anorexia, but since going public has received more than 100 emails from young girls wanting to emulate her. Levitin warns that the disorder has left her “lonely, unattractive, and repulsive for the people around me.”
When she was a young girl, her mother closely monitored her diet and weighed her frequently in an effort to prevent her from becoming obese like her relatives. She said her condition was worsened by school yard teasing. Levitin recalled a particular taunt from her past.“We were playing football [soccer] and during the game a man said, ‘I know how we can win. We need to put Valeria’s big ar*se in the goal.’ It shattered my whole world.”
Levitin worked as a model in her late teens and early twenties, but was told she was too fat to succeed. At age 23, Levitin was thin but healthy in a size 6 dress. However, by the next year her weight dropped to a mere 80 pounds, and she was forbidden from dancing because others were concerned she would injure herself.
Having seen more than 30 health specialists without gaining weight, Levitin says her real problem is a “lack of harmony between body and soul.” Because of the prolonged duration of her extreme dieting, Levitin’s body is no longer able to process many foods including bread. She must also take supplements to prevent bruising and avoids situations which may cause her to fall.
Levitin thinks the incentive of raising a child (from a surrogate) could be the key for her return to health, and she could be right. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports:
“Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group, and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for the illness. In a therapy called the Maudsley approach, parents of adolescents with anorexia nervosa assume responsibility for feeding their child. This approach appears to be very effective in helping people gain weight and improve eating habits and moods.” However, the technique is generally only applied to younger, non-chronic patients.
Levitin encourages those suffering from eating disorders to seek help. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder please read about treatment and recovery. Levitin cautioned, “It is not a game, it is not a joke, it is your life.”