This was on ET. What the hell? I find it simultaneously sad and ridiculous... kind of unfair to my beloved show, but I feel sorry for the poor girl.
An Anorexic Takes on 'America's Next Top Model'
May 24, 2004
Movies, magazines and TV are constantly filled with images of beautiful, thin women, a fact that can have a strongly negative affect on young girls longing for acceptance. Twelve-year-old JUSTINE GALLAGHER opens up to ET about her seven-year struggle with anorexia, how she resorted to eating paper to fill herself up, and about the hit reality show, "America's Next Top Model," which she believes caused her to temporarily revert to her old ways. Plus, model and creator of the hit series TYRA BANKS defends her top-rated show.
"'America's Next Top Model' did trigger me to eat paper again and try to be skinny again," Justine says. "So I'm asking the producer, please, put some middle weight people on the show." She continues: "Those girls were slim and very good-looking. I wanted to be just like them."
But Tyra, who is unaware of Justine's case, recently spoke out about how she believes her show is helping to change the stick-thin image of the modeling world. "I try to keep it more human on my show," she says. "I like girls who aren't perfect. In fact, if a girl has a certain 'flaw,' like if she's short or a little too curvy, I allow that on my show."
Justine, who once weighed a mere 32 pounds, is eating again and on her way to full recovery. She admits that she's suffered from anorexia since she was five years old. "I would eat paper instead of food," she says. "I would fill up on paper so that I wouldn't eat food, or get fat, because I was scared of that."
Justine says that while in preschool, overweight classmates were regularly made fun of, and she never wanted that to happen to her. But Justine admits it did happen one day and it set her off.
"There was a kid in my preschool class that called me fat," she says. "I was very upset about that. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know what to think so I kept trying to eat the paper and to lose weight. I kept losing weight and losing weight and I was very skinny. It was a very dangerous skinny."
Justine says she suffered from the disease for seven years, until her mom found DR. IRA SACKER. "We had to do a lot of work to get me to realize that I didn't have to be accepted," Justine says. "I could be healthy and not fat at the same time."
But after eight months of being back on track, Justine says it was the UPN reality show that triggered her back to eating paper for a short time. "I would sit and watch 'America's Next Top Model' with my mom. I would say, 'How do they get like that and still are healthy and eat like that?' Then, I would get up and eat paper, be full the rest of the night and not want to eat anything else because I wanted to be like them."
Tyra is proud of her show and says she personally keeps an observant eye on her wannabe models. "I can't change the modeling industry, but I can try and make little strides inside of it," she says. "So there is a certain weight that you have to be, but I try and make sure my girls are healthy. I keep a close watch on them."
Fortunately, Justine's relapse did not last long. She's now a healthy weight and spends her time watching shows like, "That's So Raven." An interest in horses has kept her busy as well. "I'm very happy and healthy," she says. "However, when I look down at the scale sometimes I am kind of freaked out that there are three numbers now, instead of two, but I think to myself, this is the person I want to be."