My Anorexia Was Fuelled by Celebrity Magazines; Victim Demands Ban on Airbrushed Photographs

Article excerpt

Byline: Daily Mail Reporter

THREE years ago Rachael Johnston was given just 48 hours to live after a four-year battle with anorexia left her weighing a mere 41/2 stone.

Her shocking decline was fuelled by an obsession with photographs of super-slim celebrities in glossy magazines.

Now aged 20 and a healthy size eight, she is determined others should not go through her ordeal and is demanding a ban on airbrushed images in magazines and adverts that are aimed at children.

An e-petition, launched with her mother Lynne, urges the Government to bring in a ban or, failing that, they want health warnings on airbrushed photos, similar to those that appear on cigarette packets.

Miss Johnston's descent into anorexia began when, at 13, she started to idolise celebrities and obsess over their figures.

She stuck magazine cuttings inside her school locker and compiled motivational scrapbooks which she would pore over to prevent herself from eating when she felt hungry. Desperate to achieve a 'celebrity figure', she would survive on half an apple every two days, and once went without food or water for ten days in a row.

Miss Johnston of Warrington, Cheshire, said: 'Although airbrushed images didn't actually cause my eating disorder, once I was unwell I would obsess over them. It wasn't until later that I realised what an effect these images can have and how they affected the things I did or how I felt.

'Although these glossy magazines aren't actually aimed at under 16s, they still read them. If an image has been airbrushed it should say so and which parts of the body have been altered.

'People should be comfortable with who they are and not be ashamed to go out in public no matter how they look.'

Aged 13 in January 2005 Miss Johnston was a healthy size 10-12, weighing eight stone, but she made a New Year's resolution to lose weight.

By February 2006, her weight had plummeted. She would restrict her food intake at school and on returning home, tell her parents she had already eaten.

The death of her grandmother aggravated the illness. She switched to a vegetarian diet and secretly did 1,000 situps every morning and evening. …