Audrey Hepburn Anorexia Rumors – Was she Anorexic or Bulimic?

Healthy or Anorexia?

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

In this article, I’ve written all about Audrey Hepburn Anorexia, if you still have questions I didn’t answer, write me a comment below.

Let’s get started.

As most of you know, Audrey Hepburn was an iconic actress and style icon, who was known for her simple, practice sense of style and her thin, svelte look. While she was not as skinny as some of the other actresses who were popular in the 60’s and beyond, some people have still questioned whether she was naturally thin or if her size was due to anorexia.

[ RELATED: See our Complete Audrey Hepburn Fashion Guide ]

[ RELATED: See our TOP list of Audrey Hepburn Movies ]

[ RELATED: See our Amazing Facts on Audrey Hepburn! ]

One of the biggest sources for the rumor that Audrey Hepburn suffered from anorexia and possibly even depression is her youngest son, Luca Dotti’s, Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen (excellent book with personal insights). In this book, he states that for much of her life she was very underweight, weighing only 88lbs. He also said that she had very strange eating habits, that were part of her disorder.

Look at my article on Audrey Hepburn measurements to find out her waist and bra size!

Audrey was actually a very chunky baby with roly-poly thighs and very fat cheeks.

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia - chunky baby

When she was a toddler, she loved Belgium chocolate so much that her mother had to tell the kitchen aides to hide all of the chocolate so that her daughter couldn’t gorge herself!

Audrey said “Chocolate was my one true love as a child”

“It wouldn’t betray me. I’ve always said it was either chocolate or my nails in those years. There was a lot of anxiety.”

So having survived near starvation during World War II, food became a luxury. She would simply stop eating meals during periods of stress and anxiety.

An interesting fact in this Audrey Hepburn Anorexia article is that the field of epigenetics provides Audrey a reason for her long lifetime malnutrition and weight issues. The principle of epigenetics is that you come into contact with a heavy enough stimulus over a period of time (such as starvation) and then it has the ability to change, warp, damage, and evolve your DNA structure.

Many people who survive starvation, have very permanent problems that persist into normal life. Audrey suffered permanent damage from malnutrition.  She later suffered from other things like jaundice, acute anemia, and asthma.

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia
Audrey picking flowers the following year after the Nazi Occupation of Holland

Diana Maychick wrote a controversial biography on Audrey Hepburn titled Audrey Hepburn: An Intimate Portrait. Her two sons Sean and Luca and her partner Mr. Wolders were outraged about the book claiming that Diana has  twisted the truth pertaining to Audrey Hepburn’s father, Joseph, being an active Nazi sympathizer during the second world war, claims that Audrey cooperated with her, and also claims about her being anorexic.

Wolders, Audrey’s last partner before she died, totally dismisses the claim about Audrey being anorexic by saying that it is “absolute bullshit, she had a good metabolism.”

Even Audrey’s second ex-husband Dotti a psychoanalyst who specializes in these types of eating disorders agrees with Wolder by saying she always maintained a “healthy but disciplined diet, based on her youthful training as a ballet dancer.” – Source People Magazine 1994

Up until Luca Dotti’s book was released most people thought her slender figure was due to her intense ballet training. Ballet dancers are usually slim and slender, and often have boyish figures. It was not unbelievable that this was a natural result of the training and exercise that Audrey Hepburn went through in order to become a dancer.

Like many celebrities of her day and age, Hepburn took great care to hide as much of her private life as possible from the prying eyes of the public, so it is not unbelievable that she would have been able to keep such a devastating secret. This is in stark contrast to the celebrities of today, who use Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites to give fans as much insight into their lives as possible.

According to Diana Maychick, Audrey Hepburn was not naturally thin and was actually a chubby little girl. This is a fact that some people point to when they attempt to prove that Hepburn struggled with anorexia later in life. While many people do have metabolic changes later in life, it is rare that a chubby person becomes skinnier as they get older. The natural tendency is for skinny people to become fatter, as their metabolism slows down as they get older.

As said above, as a child, Audrey was known for her love of chocolate. She was said to have loved Belgium chocolate so much that her mother had the kitchen staff hide her favorite treat. Audrey herself was even known to have said that chocolate was her one and only true love. It is hard to believe that a child who loved chocolate so much would grow up to be naturally thin.

As several people, including her son, have pointed out, at the very least Audrey Hepburn had a strange relationship with food. While there is little concrete evidence that she was anorexic, she certainly had some known strange behaviors when it came to what and when she ate.

Not only was Audrey Hepburn a child of the depression, but she lived through Nazi Germany’s occupation of Holland during World War II. It was during these periods of starvation and periods of scarcity that Audrey Hepburn’s anorexia and strange relationship with food is said to have begun. During the occupation by the Nazi soldiers, Hepburn had little access to food. She reportedly survived what is called the Winter of Hunger by eating endive and tulip bulbs that she dug up herself. She would constantly distract herself from her hunger by writing in her journal. Whether or not she was truly anorexic, her ability to not eat very much for long periods of time began during this long winter of 1944, when she was a teenager. Her family and she were so hungry that they would try to make bread out of grass clippings subside the painful attacks from her stomach acid trying to digest itself. she was painfully thin.

Photo Courtesy of Emma Fakes It

According to Diana Maychick, Audrey used food as a way of coping with stress. But unlike many people who tend to overeat as a coping mechanism, Audrey Hepburn actively avoided eating when dealing with stress. This type of behavior is a classical symptom of anorexia and is one of the reasons why many people believe that she struggled with anorexia during her lifetime. Audrey Hepburn also said that she associated food with happiness and was reluctant to eat when she was feeling sad because she feared that she would eat and absorb the sadness.

Despite all of the evidence there are still people who believe that Audrey Hepburn was in fact naturally thin and did not suffer from an eating disorder. Much of the accounts and evidence that she was anorexic are based on the stories that Luca Dotti told in his book. He was a young child during much of the period that he describes in his book, and he may have exaggerated memories of her eating habits.

If you’re wondering more details how she ate and exercised, visit my post on The Audrey Hepburn Diet.

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia

In fact, it is Dotti himself who provides the strongest evidence that Audrey Hepburn was not anorexia. In his memoir, he also says he has fond memories of her eating large amounts of pasta in her later years. He said that she always had a plate of spaghetti al pomodoro whenever she arrived home from a trip. This hearty traditional Italian dish is full of heavy carbs and fresh tomatoes. It is lighter than many other Italian dishes, but is still not likely to be eaten by someone overly concerned about their weight.

Unlike many older women, Audrey Hepburn did not put on weight as she aged, and kept her thin and trim figure throughout her entire life. Instead is is highly likely that if her slender figure was not natural, it was due to the malnurishment she experienced during the war when she was a young teenager, and that her career as a dancer contributed to her lithe, boyish figure. Audrey Hepburn went through puberty during this devastating and important period in the World’s history, and the hardships she experienced during this time likely had an effect on her body type for the rest of her life.

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia ?
Dance Ballet – Audrey Hepburn Anorexia ?

The truth is that we will never truly know whether Audrey Hepburn’s slim figure is due to an eating disorder, childhood malnurishment, or her natural adult body type and shape. What we do know is that Audrey Hepburn was a beautiful woman and an incredible actress with a remarkable sense of style who persevered despite all the hardships she endured.

Then there was her mother’s tendency to be overweight. As controlling as the Baroness was in most areas of her life trying to hide twenty-five excess pound. She blamed her size for a host of problems, including her husband’s roving eye.

Reasons Why I’m sure Audrey Hepburn didn’t have Anorexia

  • Her closest family members, two sons, two ex-husbands, and last recent partner who spent time with Audrey the most claim that she was not anorexic
  • her close friends and people who she hung out with on the sets of movies Claimed that she always ate pretty good portions and had a good appetite, especially for spaghetti.
  • She was a ballerina, in other words she was an athlete. This is not just some hobby of hers, she trained to become a prima ballerina as her career.
  • She was very energetic and didn’t complain about having chronic fatigue which a lot of anorexic people complain about having.

Audrey Hepburn Anorexia Quotes

  • After being through it in the war, she says, “I associate food with happy times, primarily because those times when I was unable to eat were so miserable. I guess in some convoluted way, I’m afraid if I eat when I’m sad, I’ll be feeding the sadness.”
  • Audrey noted how unhappy her mother was and, at least subconsciously, also attributed it to her weight.
  • She made a vow to herself to never exceed 103 pounds.

Memories During her Film and Broadway Career

When she secured her first big time break as the lead role in ‘Gigi’ the Broadway show, her producer, Gilbert Miller, suggested that she take a leisurely sail from London to New York and learn all of her lines on the way there. She traveled by boat for 18 days.

On the travel, she ended up gorging herself on chocolates (yes, we certainly know already that she has this thing for chocolates.) When she finally arrived from her long voyage, she was about 15 pounds heavier and her manager Gilbert certainly noticed!

Gilbert said to her, “Put a little meat on your bones eh? Don’t forget we hired you for your bones.” (She was barely 116 pounds).

Being by nature vulnerable and sensitive, she vowed to never put on weight again. She stated “And in my mind, I decided to also lose a few extra pounds as insurance.”

Audrey Hepburn’s eating disorder and anorexic tendencies were reignited during grueling rehearsals for Gigi.

If You’re Trying to Lose Weight…

Now, I need to bring up this next topic… A lot of women these days are not happy with how they look.  We all need to learn how to be happy with who we are as a person, in all shapes and sizes.  But I believe we all need to be healthy too or at least try to strive for that.  We may never get to our “ideal weight” but as long as we are making progress and are trying is what matters. However, Let’s not try to be “skinny”… let’s try to be HEALTHY.

I have close friends and a sister who were overweight, even myself sometimes.  If you are overweight, THERE ARE healthy ways to lose the weight, even if you’ve tried plenty of times.  Please don’t hurt yourself or your body by bulemia or starving yourself.

Here are things for you to try out:

  • Green Vibrance – This is the best green drink to get. Not only is it chalk full of vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to lose weight and detoxify, but it also has probiotics.  Read up on the effects probiotics have on your weight and mood, it’s really fascinating.
  • CHANGE your diet – Start eating WHOLE foods, minimize carbs and sugar. Stop eating junk food that YOU think is healthy! It probably isn’t, go research it!
  • EXERCISE Smart – Forget running and jogging – Do more High Intensity Interval Training and Lifting Weights.  Jogging has very little benefits to losing weight.
  • Eat consistently – Don’t Binge eat, and don’t go for days without eating. Get on a schedule that your body can adapt to instead of trying to guess what you’re doing.
  • Intermittent Fasting – There are some really promising studies that have come out that say that intermittent fasting (fasting short periods like a meal) is great for your body, paired with exercise.
  • Garcinia Cambogia – Haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve heard good things about it.
  • Green Coffee Bean Plus – Controls  hunger & Increases metabolism
  • Sheer Thermo – Natural way to accelerate burning fat and metabolism
  • Cellulite Brush – Doesn’t solve it 100% but it helps out.
  • Hot Cream for Cellulite – Gid rid of that nasty cellulite.  This doesn’t get rid of everything, but it helps the process

I really recommend this program to lose weight safely and naturally – you owe yourself to at least check it out and see what you think.  It’s a little sales pitchy at times, but this program has a wealth of information that you haven’t heard yet, has a money back guarantee, and best of all it works.

Check it Out


El Fin! That’s it for my article on Audrey Hepburn anorexia!

Hope you enjoyed my article on Audrey Hepburn Anorexia, if you have any questions or comments to add to this, please let me know below in the comments! If you didn’t like it, let me know too, I try to welcome all constructive criticism! 🙂


  1. This is an amazing website. Please keep it up. I think you did an excellent job on this article. Very informative on such a dark topic (I, myself have an ED.) You did a wonderful job writing this. And I love how you mentioned the bottom portion and esp. where you said “try saying healthier and not skinnier”.

  2. It’s clear she did have an eating disorder. Look at her fuller figure by at least 15 pounds in the photos where she’s a ballet dancer. She was also a very heavy smoker

    • I would believe that ballerinas have to be extremely fit to do the feats they do on stage. I think that more anorexic people usually lose a lot of muscle and can’t move around as well. I could be totally off base though.