I saw Valeria first time by the pool in Monaco,Monte Carlo two years ago.I still remember the shock of that moment… I was mesmerized by the person in front of me or better said “the dead walking ” in front of me… After the shock passed I had the strongest feeling to run to her and hug her,to listen to her story and find a way to help her. Something stopped me…. the idea that maybe she’ll get it wrong,that maybe my reaction could scared her,the person near me, telling me to stop staring at her…. But really how could everybody be so calm and cool like everything was ok when in one corner of the pool was sunbathing the skeletal system from the anatomy class back in school?!Are we so egocentric that we don’t see the suffering around us?!
The story of Valeria came out in the media at the end of last month,as her wish to help others do understand that anorexia is a serious issue.She also happens to be one of the saddest and loneliest women in the world. She is fighting for her life, but because of websites that encourage the anorexic lifestyle, she has become an unwitting idol of many teen girls – and even gets fan mail regularly.
Levitin was originally from Russia but now lives in Monaco, Radar Online notes. She reportedly suffers from an extreme form of anorexia.At 5ft 8in, she should weigh between 9st and 12st, according to NHS advice. Instead, she is a tiny 4st 3lbs, less than half of what her lightest healthy weight should be. Her skin resembles the look of leather and appears to be merely draped over her tiny skeleton.She battled the possibly deadly disease that caused her body to begin wasting away. Experiencing daily physical pain has not deterred Valeria from continuing with her campaign to educate young girls about the dangers of becoming anorexic in an attempt to save the suffering of others.
The world’s thinnest woman had this to say during an interview with the Huffington Post:
“I am not going to teach them how to die. It is not a game, it is not a joke, it is your life. I want to share my story to help sufferers and their families from repeating my fate. Anorexia has made me lonely, unattractive, and repulsive for the people around me. My eating disorder has robbed me of so much. People don’t want to be around someone who is not in a good mood or not upbeat.”
A representative from the eating disorder charity Beat stated that the shock of looking at photos of an emaciated woman will not cure anorexia sufferers. The Beat spokeswoman fears that viewing the graphic photos could actually trigger the “competitive” nature of eating disorder sufferers and prompt them to eat even less food.
She believes the roots of her condition lie with her mother, who was terrified Valeria would grow up obese like her relatives. Even as a young child, her diet was curtailed.Valeria was weighed often to ensure she hadn’t gained any weight, such was her mother’s drive for perfection.
At 16, and weighing 10st, Valeria moved to Chicago with her parents. Desperate to fit in at a new school, she thought that if she lost weight, she would be accepted and liked.
As a result, she restricted her diet even further, cutting out sugar or carbohydrates.
The irony today is that, having cut out certain foods for so long, her body is intolerant to them and could not process them even if she wanted to.
When a classmate made a cruel comment about Valeria’s figure, she became even more determined to lose weight.
She said: ‘We were playing football and during the game a man said, “I know how we can win. We need to put Valeria’s big ar*e in the goal”. It shattered my whole world.’
By the time she was 23, Valeria’s dress size had plummeted from a healthy size 12 to a tiny size six.
Deciding to become a model made the situation even worse, as she was told she was still too fat to succeed. As her weight continued to plummet, by the age of 24 and weighing just six stone, she was banned from dancing over concerns she would injure herself.
For the next ten years she saw more than 30 health specialists, though once dipped to a dangerously low 3st 10lbs. Today, even if she wanted to eat certain foods, she would be unable to.
Many foods have to be avoided because they don’t agree with her body any more. It has been so long since she ate bread that she can no longer remember what it tastes like.
Her illness has also made her life a very lonely one. Single for a decade, she says relationships are difficult as she is unable to do the normal things that couples do, as going to restaurants.
Now, she believes she cannot be cured simply by going to a doctor, having never gained weight after seeing a specialist.
Rather, she says the problem is more about a ‘lack of harmony between body and soul’.
Today Valeria takes supplements to counter the risk of bruising and avoids situations where she could fall.
And she believes the solution could lie in moving back to Moscow – where she feels more at ease with herself – and trying to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a mother via a surrogate.
For the incentive of wanting a child could be a trigger to get healthy again, she says. It is something she feels she can do if she can get herself healthy.
‘I want to stand up to anorexia. I’ve never given up on anything in my life and I’m not about to give up now.’
Valeria would like people suffering from eating disorders like hers to get help. You can find support by going to b-eat.co.uk
ONE EXAMPLE OF HER ‘FAN MAIL’
Hello dear Valeria,
I am 23 and weigh 8½st and I do not like myself this way. I want to look skinny like Thumbelina. Nobody can persuade me not to diet, even though I acquired gastritis and pancreatitis.
I have tried all kinds of diets but they all yielded only temporary results. On my present diet I do not feel hungry… I cannot return to my old way of eating because I fear I will gain weight.
All my relatives are telling me it will hurt me, that I will be a victim of anorexia. I am a little worried that one day I will be faced with a problem of critically low weight and I want to know when to get worried. When did it happen to you?
I hope her story will help others and not being an inspiration for people already suffering from eating disorders or not. Because there is a huge difference in being fit and healthy and being an unhappy lonely pack of bones. We all have to learn to love ourselves first of all and everything else will follow.
I want to thank so much Valerie for her courage to put her out there with the risk to be criticized,but for sure there is not as painful as the loneliness and the suffering she felt all these years. Her wish to help others by showing herself as the negative example to make us understand there is nothing positive in having an eating disorder and to wake up before it is to late.
There is no single cause for anorexia. Most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of psychological, environmental and biological factors, which lead to a destructive cycle of behaviour.