Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn’s Anorexia

audrey hepburn struggled with anorexia

audrey hepburn anorexia: The biography of Audrey Hepburn and her weight issues. Read more on her relationship with her body and how her perennial thinness lasted throughout her life.

For most of her life, Audrey had a love hate relationship with food.

audrey hepburn struggled with anorexia

Used with permission from audreyhepburn.com

Those who wrote about Audrey Hepburn’s anorexia traced her eating habits and weight from her childhood.

Actually, she was chubby, loved eating and chocolate!

Diana Maychick writes in her book “An Intimate Portrait” that Audrey Hepburn was a chubby baby, with fat cheeks and roly-poly thighs.

She also reports that when Audrey was a toddler, she enjoyed Belgium chocolate so much that her mother told the kitchen help to hide the candy bars to prevent her daughter from gorging.

“Chocolate was my one true love as a child,” Audrey said. “It wouldn’t betray me. I’ve always said it was either chocolate or my nails in those years. There was a lot of anxiety.”

Having survived near starvation during the war at her childhood, food became a luxury to her. She would simply stop eating during periods of stress and anxiety.
Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

Impact of War Perhaps Leading to unwanted Anorexia

Many argue that Audrey Hepburn’s Anorexia could have taken root due to the impact of war.

During the war in Arnhem, Audrey imagined a fantasy life to survive. In her mind, she blocked out all her need for food and water, since they were scarce and running out.

She says:

“I guess I began to resent food around this time,” Audrey quotes.

“That’s a strange thing to say about food -‘I resent it.’ You eat it, don’t eat it, like it, dislike it. But resent it?’

I actually got angry with it for being so difficult to come by and tasting so awful. I decided to master food; I told myself I didn’t need it.
Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

I could sense it caused my mother great pain not to provide my brothers and me with the well-balanced and beautifully served meals she was used to, so I felt I could eliminate her problem by denying I missed the good things we used to eat. Of course, I took it to an extreme. I forced myself to eliminate the need for food. I closed my eyes to the fact that I was starving.”

“Jan (her brother) was the most hungry,” Audrey recalled. “That was clear. He’d sometimes hold his stomach and cry for food. I couldn’t stand another minute of it. I suppose Mother was hungry too but she was too sad to notice. I, on the other hand, was sure I wasn’t hungry. I had that one beaten. The only thing I knew was that I had to take care of them, so I devised this outlandish plan to make money.”

She then gave ballet lessons to young girls much like herself.

During the war, she survived on a bit of lettuce, the occasional potato and awful bread. Later on, she simply lived on tulip bulbs and water. She was painfully thin.

Even her janitors was chastising her about not eating with love. He said, “I was saving this red ball of Edam cheese for a real emergency and you are it!”
Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

Audrey said, “just a small piece revived me; I tried some more but became sick to my stomach. My body chemistry changed during the years of deprivation, but my mind was also playing tricks.”

“If there is no food, I said to myself, then I’m not going to need what I can’t have. It was one of my first attempts at mind over matter, and at the time, I thought I was doing a great job.”

After the war, she received a cache of milk chocolate bars and she ate all of them at once and got sick.

Other Influences On Audrey Hepburn’s alleged Anorexia

The war was not the only influence on her eating.

  • Her Mother
    (quote from Diane’s book)

    Then there was her mother’s tendency to be overweight. As controlling as the Baroness was in most areas of her life trying to hide twenty-five excess pound. She blamed her size for a host of problems, including her husband’s roving eye.
    Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

    Audrey noted how unhappy her mother was and, at least subconsciously, also attributed it to her weight.

    She made a vow to herself to never exceed 103 pounds.

  • Her Memories

    After being through it in the war, she says, “I associate food with happy times, primarily because those times when I was unable to eat were so miserable. I guess in some convoluted way, I’m afraid if I eat when I’m sad, I’ll be feeding the sadness.”

  • Her Work

    (abridged version)

    When she had her first big break as lead role in ‘Gigi’ the Broadway show, Gilbert Miller, her producer suggested she take a leisurely sail from London to New York and learn her lines on the way. She travelled that way for 18 days.

    She gorged herself on chocolates during the entire passage (we already know she has this thing for chocolates.) When she arrived, she was 15 pounds heavier and Gilbert noticed. He said to her, “Put a little meat on your bones eh? Don’t forget we hired you for your bones.” (She was barely 116 pounds).

    Being by nature vulnerable and sensitive, she vowed to never put on weight again.

    “And in my mind, I decided to also lose a few extra pounds as insurance.”

    Audrey’s anorexic tendencies were reignited during grueling rehearsals for Gigi.

    Was Audrey Hepburn Truly Anorexic?

    The debate on whether or not she was truly anorexic for the rest of her life remains unknown.

    It is no doubt that she was slimmer than most people but she exercised regularly, ate healthily and was a ballet dancer.

    Ref: ‘An intimate portrait’ – diane maychick

    Thank you for reading ‘Audrey Hepburn Anorexia’!

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