‘The Simpsons’ star Yeardley Smith spent 24 years battling bulimia.
The actress who has voiced Lisa Simpson since the show launched back in 1989 has opened up about the crippling eating disorder which took over her life, revealing she spent 13 months in an outpatient facility in California where she took part in group therapy in a bid to overcome her demons.
Speaking on the ‘Allison Interviews’ podcast, Yeardley explained: “I had an eating disorder for 24 years … from the time I was 14 ’til 39. I’m 57 now.”
She went on to describe her treatment at the UCLA facility, revealing she took part in therapy sessions which involved the group eating meals together, saying: “Which of course is harrowing if you have an eating disorder. My particular predilection was bulimia.”
She added: “Eating disorders are incredibly isolating, and you practice your disorder in private. It’s very ritualistic. It’s very secret, it’s not social like drinking. Not to say one is worse than the other, just different … “
The actress added that she reached a turning point at the age of 39 when she decided it was time to seek help: “I sort of pulled up my socks and said ‘Alright I need some actual help.’ I had been telling myself that I can do this on my own forever and ever. Obviously, I can’t so I need some help.”
Yeardley said it took her another two or three years before she was “really not afraid of food” but there remain some “trigger” dishes that she still tends to stay away from.
She added of her condition: “The fear is rooted in a deep shame of who you are, how much you have not lived up to your expectations or other people’s. That your body isn’t the shape and size that it should be that you see in the magazines, that I see in my industry. It is really a punishment.
“In this twisted, ironic way by binging and purging you’re like ‘Listen to me, I have control over you.’ When in fact, what you’re doing is completely out of control. So it’s a false sense of ‘I can fix this’.”