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."
|Valerie as a little girl|
“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.
She said: “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”.