Love Island Star Speaks Out On Eating Disorder

TV Star Speaks Out On Eating Disorder

Among the many challenges you may face if you have an eating disorder is a sense of shame and a desire to hide your problem from others. Like so many conditions that arise in early life, it comes at a time when so much is changing and your identity is still forming that you can easily come to feel it is an integral part of you.

The reality is different, of course. None of us are meant to have a disorder and that is why the right step is to seek support and find understanding people who can help. There is no shame in going to an eating disorder clinic, any more than there is in going to hospital to have a fracture treated.

Making the step of admitting there is a problem and doing something about it is never easy, any more than achieving ultimate mastery over your disorder. However, sometimes the necessary nudge can come from hearing from someone else who has, or has had, a problem.

The Daily Mail reported recently on the case of Coco Lodge, a former Love Island contestant, who has spoken out publicly about her own experience of an eating disorder. Now aged 27, she told the Secure the Insecure Podcast that she had seen her weight drop to just six stone at the age of 17.

In a familiar tale, she had a body image issue, concerning the “pouch at the bottom of my belly” that she set out to eliminate by slashing her calorie intake, with dire results for her health.

“I was six stone, my period had stopped, my skin had grown hair on it to try and keep me warm, my body was shutting down,” she stated.

After her mother had told her she would send her to a hospital for eating disorders if she did not change, Coco found a personal trainer and learned to get herself in shape in a healthy way, eating properly and putting on more muscle. 

Now she accepts that her body will “never be like a supermodel”, adding: “I just have to accept who I am. I’m happy with it now, but I wasn’t when I was younger.”

Such comments may be particularly pertinent to young viewers watching shows like Love Island, where the concepts of immaculate beauty and exceptional fitness are powerful images, with the potential to influence those with body image concerns to take unhealthy steps in a bid to confirm to an ideal.

For that reason, it may offer a powerful counter-narrative to hear one of the women who was on the show warn against going down such a road, as well as showing that even those whose physical appearance may be held up as ‘ideal’ can have their struggles.

The same may be true of sporting heroes. Examples of stars who have opened up on their problems in recent years include Andrew Flintoff, the former England cricketer who now presents Top Gear. In 2020 he featured in a BBC documentary on his struggle with bulimia, eight years after publicly admitting he had a problem.

Although he became a hero as a fast bowling, big hitting all-rounder who became BBC Sports Personality of the Year after helping England win the Ashes in 2005, his career was also blighted by fitness problems, including weight issues in his early years.

Published: 24 August 2022