A teen dropped from eight stone to four after being branded “thunder thighs”.
Margherita Barbieri, 18, from Reading, was told her physique was “unacceptable for ballet” and her dreams were crushed.
She developed anorexia after putting herself on a strict diet to lose weight, often not eating for two days and living off a single bowl of porridge – which is a mere 140 calories.
After her weight plummeted to four stone in 12 months, Margherita battled the severe illness for five years before realising she finally wanted to recover.
She created a list of over 200 foods which she was too afraid to eat, including butter and chocolate.
Gradually Margherita began ticking off foods once she gained the confidence to eat and she now weighs a healthy eight stone.
Margherita, an aspiring musical theatre dancer, said: “I went from a healthy eight stone to four after I was told by one of my ballet teachers that my physique was unacceptable for ballet.
“Even though I was perfectly healthy, at one point I was even told I had thunder thighs which was another catalyst for my weight loss.
“My weight was perfectly fine but I didn’t realise that then, I was determined to become a better dancer so I started over-exercising without eating anything at all.
“It made me hate my body, the body I once loved, the body I was once proud of, and instead I turned against my appearance.
“I dropped four stone in a year to the point where I was told I was too thin to even have therapy, I began to enjoy punishing my body and I fell in love with hating myself.”
Margherita went on to use the list of over 200 foods she was afraid to eat and turned them into a positive, in a bid to help her overcome her disorder.
Gradually every day she began to tick off each one, after allowing herself to eat them again. She now enjoys every food on the planet and is learning to love her body again.
She said: “I eventually stopped being ashamed of my mental state and I knew I had to do something to improve my weight.
“I started ticking off each individual food on the list that I was once too afraid to eat and soon went from a tiny four stone back to over eight and I feel and look so much healthier now.
“Some days I felt so weak that I couldn’t get out of my bed, and I even developed kidney failure due to being so skinny.
“But now I no longer feel permanently exhausted and I’m making up for lost time and living life to the full.”
Margherita now aspires to become a musical theatre dancer and raise awareness to help other young women overcome the illness.
Margherita said: “I still love and adore ballet but it comes with a lot of pressure and I have decided that I would rather pursue the musical theatre route.
“To appear in music videos or be in the West End would be a dream come true, especially after everything I’ve gone through.”
“Suffering from an eating disorder is horrible, it controls your life, and recovering from it has been the hardest, most challenging thing I have ever done.
“My advice to everyone is to learn to love your body and yourself, have a good relationship with food, don’t let anyone put you down.
“I think we should all be fighting for a cure for anorexia, it is a powerful illness that is often life threatening, I am so lucky that I chose to recover.”