'Human Barbie' Slammed for Endorsing Eating Disorders

By Paul Gaita 08/12/14

Valeria Lukyanova, a.k.a. the Human Barbie, was criticized by a charity group for endorsing a dangerous diet called "breatharianism."

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Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova, who earned worldwide headlines for transforming herself into a “Human Barbie” through numerous plastic surgeries, has been condemned by a British charity for supporting eating disorders by promoting a controversial and unhealthy diet.

Lukyanova has stated that she maintains her tiny waist, which is said to be less than 20 inches in diameter, by following a practice called “breatharianism,” which says it is possible for individuals to exist without consuming food. Advocates have claimed that they survive on air and light alone, a practice that has been opposed by both scientists and medical professionals. In several cases, the practice has led to death from starvation and dehydration.

B-Eat, which provides support to individuals with eating disorders and their families, has labeled her endorsement as both unhealthy and unrealistic. Lukyanova’s statements of support are particularly galling to the British public, especially after an inquiry into the death of Liverpool teenager Eleanor Holmes, who reportedly committed suicide after visiting “pro-ana" websites. Lukyanova has been linked to such sites in the press and has been cited as an inspiration for several women who have undergone similar extreme body modification efforts.

Lukyanova’s commitment to breatharianism is perhaps the most irresponsible, but by no means the most bizarre. At various times, she has claimed to be from another planet and to have the ability to speak with extraterrestrials. Lukyanova has also claimed the ability to travel through time or experience astral projection. She appalled many by posing on a beach in Yalta boycotted by tourists after Russia’s annexation of the area from Ukraine.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.