Eating disorders are serious, debilitating, life-threatening conditions that should never be taken lightly. This is the message that Russian-born Valeria Levitin is trying to send out: weighing just 4 stone (56 pounds / 25.4 kg), she is believed to be the thinnest woman in the world.
Valeria is an anorexic and has been struggling with the disorder ever since she was a teenager.
She now knows that there can be no real recovery from it: she’s 39 now and will never eat certain foods again because her body is no longer able to process them.
Believe it or not, but Valeria has been receiving “fan mail” from women all around the world trying to get her to share her “tips” for losing weight, she says in an interview with The Sun.
Because she’s determined not to teach women how to die, she is opening up on how she got this way, in the hope that her own case will serve as an example of what not to do.
Valeria believes that her problems began when she was still a kid. Being an only child and coming from a family with weight issues, her mother thought she’d teach her weight control from a very young age.
“My mother was afraid I would grow up obese like my relatives. For that reason she tried to restrict my eating from a very young age,” she says.
“She made me weigh myself regularly to check that I hadn’t put any weight on. Because I was an only child, she wanted me to be perfect,” Valeria adds.
Her problems became more serious when she moved with her mother to the US. Here, Valeria would find it very hard to fit in and somehow came to the conclusion that she could do so if only she lost more weight.
As the years passed, her weight plummeted but it was never enough, she recalls. She tried to start a career as a model, only to be told that she was too big for it – so she started eating even less afterwards.
Now, she’s using her anorexia-ravaged body to show women thinking excessive diets are the way to go, what they can lead to.
“This disease is not about being cured by a doctor. The best cure I ever found was when I said to myself, ‘I’m going to recover’,” she says.
Valeria’s goal is now to get as healthy as possible so she can have a baby by surrogate. More information on eating disorders and support for those struggling with them is here.