Weighing just FOUR stone, extreme anorexic Valeria Levitin is thought to be the thinnest woman in the world. Her malnourished figure and matchstick-thin thighs should serve as a stark warning about the dangers of eating disorders.
But worryingly, Valeria says she gets FAN MAIL from girls desperate to copy her skeletal look. The 39-year-old says:
“I have received emails from young girls who want me to teach them how to be like me”. “All the letters I’ve had are from women, mainly in their twenties, who see me as some kind of inspiration”
“This is why I want to campaign against anorexia. I am not going to teach them how to die. It is not a game, it is not a joke, it is your life”.
Valeria, who developed her eating disorder as a teenager, has chosen to speak out about how the illness has ruined her life — and how she is desperate to win her battle in order to have a family.
“I want to share my story to help sufferers and their families from repeating my fate”, says Valeria, who is originally from Russia but now lives in Monaco. “I want young people to live happy, healthy and meaningful lives. Anorexia has made me lonely, unattractive and repulsive for the people around me.”
5ft 8in, Valeria’s weight should be between 9st and 12st, according to NHS advice. Instead she is a horrifying 4st 3lbs, less than HALF of what her lightest healthy weight should be.
At 16, and weighing 10st, Valeria moved to Chicago, USA, with her mum and stepdad. The move brought even more pressure to be slim.
“The environment was very different. I wanted to be liked everyone and I thought that if I lost weight, I would be accepted”.
“I started cutting out certain foods from my diet — I wouldn’t eat sugar or carbohydrates”. “I became trapped in a vicious circle where I needed to lose more weight to feel happy with myself”.
“Now it’s almost impossible to put the weight I’ve lost back on because my body can’t process many foods”.
When a classmate made a cruel comment about Valeria’s figure, she became even more determined to lose weight.
She explains: “We were playing football and during the game a man said, ‘I know how we can win. We need to put Valeria’s big ar*e in the goal’. It shattered my whole world”.
By the time she was 23, Valeria’s dress size had plummeted from a healthy size 12 to a tiny size six. And attempts at getting into modelling only made matters worse — because she was told she was STILL too fat.
Valeria’s passion was ballet and she dreamed of becoming a dancer. But at 24, and weighing just 6st, she was banned from dancing over concerns she would injure herself.
For the next ten years she saw more than 30 health specialists, though once dipped to a dangerously low 3st 10lbs.
She says now:
“This disease is not about being cured by a doctor”. “It’s a deeper problem than that; it’s a lack of harmony between body and soul. I never gained any weight seeing specialists. I have never been hospitalised.
“The best cure I ever found was when I said to myself, ‘I’m going to recover”.
“I was feeling better and when you feel better your body starts to come back to normal. When you become healthier your body will start eating, not vice versa.
“You don’t force yourself to eat then become better, it’s not like that”.
Today she takes supplements to counter the risk of bruising and avoids situations where she could fall.
Now Valeria believes the solution could lie in moving back to Moscow. There is one incentive to get well again — having a baby via a surrogate. It is something she feels she can do if she can get herself healthy. “I think moving back to Moscow would help me once again feel at ease with myself”, she says.
“I would love to have a family because I feel I have so much to give”. “But obviously it wouldn’t be right to have a baby when I am ill. It wouldn’t be fair on the child”.
“I want to stand up to anorexia. I’ve never given up on anything in my life and I’m not about to give up now”. “I must win, in order to feel that my life hasn’t been wasted”.