'Dr Who' star Billie Piper reveals her battle with anorexia

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The Independent Online

Actress Billie Piper has told how her years as a teenage pop star and her desire to emulate photos of "skinny models" drove her to eat tissues and go for up to five days without solid food.

Piper, 24, who stars in BBC1's Doctor Who, said she became anorexic and would purge her body with laxatives. She also punched herself in the stomach to make her hunger pangs go away.

In her autobiography, Growing Pains, to be published later this month, she says it was her relationship with DJ Chris Evans that gave her a new zest for life and which made her starvation diet go "out the window".

Piper said she developed a fixation about her weight when, as a chart-topping 16-year-old, she overheard a TV presenter call her "fat" at the Brit Awards. She decided to cut out junk food, but when the weight failed to fall off quickly enough, "I'd cut everything out and see how long I could go before I really had to eat".

Coffee, Diet Coke and cigarettes would often be the only things she took on board. "At one point, I managed five days without solid food," she said in The Mail On Sunday's serialisation of her book.

Piper then began to look for drastic weight loss tips from other anorexics in magazines. "I read about a girl who ate tissues to fill herself up, so I sat on the floor of my hotel room somewhere in America and tried to force Kleenex down my throat. But the tissue thing was bollocks. Not only was I still hungry, I nearly choked on a ball of tissue.

"To make the hunger pangs go away, I used to punch my stomach hard. I searched out pictures of skinny models to spur me on. Normal-sized women seemed revolting to me."

She said she now feels guilty about flaunting her own slender frame at public events. "People need help, advice and love, not websites telling you how to lose your last pound, or scantily clad, deeply anorexic celebrities parading around flaunting their golden bones."