Valeria Levitin,The World’s Thinnest Woman Campaigns Against Anorexia

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.

It has been so long since Valeria ate bread that she can no longer remember what it tastes like

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.

Aged 23, she decided to become a model, but suffered further set-backs after being told she was too big

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.

Now 39, Valeria says she is desperate to get better and fulfill her dream of becoming a mother. She also wants to serve as a warning to others about the dangers of extreme dieting. She said: ‘I would love to have a family because I feel I have so much to give. But obviously it wouldn’t be right to have a baby when I am ill. It wouldn’t be fair on the child.

‘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.

294 comments

  1. abr73

    Someone in our family is suffering from Anorexia. She is at the hospital and the whole family suffers to see her sick. If anyone knows in Switzerland in the Geneva area an association to help the parents and the anorexic please let us know.

  2. Jenn

    I have been looking everywhere but does anyone have Valeria’s email address? I am recovered from severe cases of anorexia and bulimia and would love to reach out to her to assure her that there IS hope. If anyone knows how I might be able to contact her please email me at Jenn_Noggle@yahoo.com thank you!

  3. Valerie’s story is truly horrifying.
    I’m so glad you stated that there is no specific cause of eating disorders. People find it all too easy to blame the media straight away, which although the media glamourises being slim, it is not the only cause of such terrible illness. Being healthy no matter what size it shape you are should be the ideal.

  4. sameatmon

    Even though the situation looks bad I’m convinced there’s hope and with understanding, compassion, support, a recovery is possible. “Just walk around in her shoes for awhile and see her point of view and then help her.” Question do you have time? Love will find a way…

  5. I hope its not the last article about this topic , it absolutely was just a wonderful understand and hopefully we will all study far more about this !! Bookmarked dude!

  6. Lucia

    Hi to everybody, dont you know if there is any way of contacting Valeria? We are planning on making a campain against anorexia and bulimia and it would be helpful to have a touch with her.

  7. Mary Anne Brown

    Where is Valeria’s mother now? Is she still alive/ around? Has she recognized the devastation that she caused in her daughters life? Is she trying to help her daughter?

    This is truly one of the most disturbing and sad stories I have read in a long time . I can’t even fathom how this woman can walk around town or even put together a coherent sentence-her brain and body looked starved beyond belief.

  8. Thanks for signing up to follow my blog. Your blog has fascinating information that is important for people to read and understand. My wife is a therapist who deals with people with eating disorders and I’m sure will find this very interesting. I’ll make sure she reads it. Keep up the good work. – Josephf14

  9. Dear CoF,
    Thanks for posting this. I know that it’s from June, but I had to add here that I am a psychotherapist trained in the treatment of eating disorders.

    No one mentioned in the comments or in the interview that anorexia is a disorder in the brain that is triggered by stress. It is inheritable and does run in families, though it can skip a generation or a branch through the scramble of DNA through the generations.

    Anorexia does not occur in those without a disorder in the brain. While it is supported in the culture, it is not caused by the culture. Because anorexia is a MEDICAL disorder it requires treatment from medical professionals. Therapists and therapy cannot cure anorexia. We work in conjunction with medical professionals to support the patient in complying with the requirements of treatment.

    Sadly, most insurance companies in the U.S. are not paying for in-patient treatment for anorexia until a patient is acute. Which is like not treating cancer until it metastasizes. Nonetheless, good treatment is available and the best treatment in 30-90 days of in-patient hospital treatment to enable the anorexic to tolerate and eat regularly again.

    After hospital, full day out-patient treatment is required to supervise meals and snacks and support the anorexic in tolerating social contact again and increasing his/her skills in stress management and managing daily life. The number one cause of relapse in anorexics who can tolerate food intake is poor medication management and stress.

    For an acute anorexic to recover 12-24 months of a combination of inpatient and outpatient treatment would be considered reasonable by doctors and treatment professionals (what the insurance companies think is another thing altogether). I wonder if dear Valeria was ever offered or ever stayed in treatment long enough to recover.

    Still, her story is one of the “successful” anorexic, because she didn’t die before she turned 30 and wherever she lives she is not homeless from being unable to work.

    Thank you again for shedding light on this terrible disease which is greatly misunderstood.

    Blessings, Debbie Bayer, M.A.

  10. Thank you for following my blog. This post covers a very important topic. Although I am a psychologist, this is area is not a specialty of mine, nor of the agency I oversee. Nonetheless, it is important that people know eating disorders are not just dieting gone extreme, but rather they are serious mental health disorders. I must mention that we must consider the confusing messages which mass media puts out about a woman’s appearance. How many larger women are broadcasting news, weather, sports or leading public companies, compared to larger men? Why is it that everyone talks about Michelle Obama’s fashion sense and ignores the fact that she is a Harvard Law Grad, etc, etc.. Best wishes to you.

  11. CiCi

    I would have to kindly disagree with Debbie. I believe anyone can develop an eating disorder and that the brain is too complex to determine that someone has to have a preexisting disorder in the brain. That being said, eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS (which I suffer from), etc, certainly cause someone to have disordered thinking later on. There is no history of disordered eating in my family so I’d hardly think it is completely genetic – though I do agree that if someone in the family has an ED, another family member is more likely to get it as well.
    As for treatment – I’ve been through it. It may help for the time being, but in the long run it is up to the disordered to consciously decide that this is what they want to do. Forcing food/supervising meals is not a cure. Everyone deals differently with their ED.
    I just feel a bit annoyed when people who have probably never gone through this themselves, think that there is one set in stone treatment/cure that will work universally for all cases, because that is not true in the slightest.

  12. Pingback: Valeria Levitin, The World’s Thinnest Woman, Campaigns Against Anorexia « Human Chess

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  14. Trade Routz

    Dear CoF,
    First of all, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this with the public. The way people perceive themselves, and then change what is already perfect, in an effort to be loved and accepted by others due to their conditioning is heart breaking. Having you as a role model for Valeria can only support her, in your real and sincere work against anorexia. People like you heal others. I would also like to thank you for following Trade routz living style. I’m deeply grateful, and hope you find my blogs, and what I sell fun and interesting. If you have any questions, please contact me. x x

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  17. An excellent post! I did have a friend who suffered from anorexia. Needless to say, she lost the battle.

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