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Pro-Ana Websites Teaching Teen Girls how to Become Anorexic and Bulimic; J.K. Rowlings Does Not Want her Girls to be Skinny-Obsessed, Empty-Headed, Self-Obsessed, Emaciated Clones

Aired July 4, 2006 - 23:00:00   ET


A.J. HAMMER, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: A startling trend, why young girls are cutting themselves. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.
SIBILA VARGAS, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: And "Harry Potter" author, J.K. Rowling rants about certain celebrities. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. A SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special on Hollywood and body image starts right now.


ANNOUNCER: On SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, the shocking websites that say eating disorders are a good thing, girls encouraging other girls to be anorexic, offering startling tips on how to starve themselves.

MARNA PALMER, LEANED ABOUT EATING DISORDERS FROM WEB SITE: I was -- laxatives, spending four hours a day at the gym. At my worst I was throwing up seven or eight times a day.

ANNOUNCER: Plus the primetime TV star who became anorexic, telling all in the interview you`ll see only on SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

Rosie O`Donnell in a riveting interview.

ROSIE O`DONNELL, TALK SHOW HOST: Yeah, I told my sister when I was 18. I`m like, "I think I`m gay." She`s like, "Really?"

ANNOUNCER: Rosie opens up about being gay in Hollywood, being a gay parent, and how she has overcome challenges professionally and personally.


HAMMER: Hello, I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Thank you for joining us for this show. This is SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special: "Hollywood and Body Image."

HAMMER: And we begin with an alarming trend online, tips on how to starve yourself, ways to learn how to speed vomiting, all available at the click of a mouse.

VARGAS: And for those of you who haven`t heard about these websites referred to as pro-ana, they`re teaching people, mostly teen girls, how to become anorexic and bulimic. They even provided one primetime TV star with dangerous tips that sent her life into a tailspin. Now, we`ll speak to her in a moment, but first, a look inside pro-ana through SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson.


ANDERSON (voice-over): A hunger to find others like them, a desire to be thin, to be perfect. That`s what`s driving more and more people to sites like these.

They`re called pro-ana for pro-anorexia, or pro-mia for pro-bulimia. They`re places people go to trade disturbing tips. This one recommends using a spoon instead of your finger to purge food after a binge.

LEIGH VAN DUSEN, EATING DISORDER TREATMENT SPECIALIST: Some of the things are things that can cause someone to be in medical danger immediately.

ANDERSON: Many of the pro-ana sites use pictures of stars, "thinspiration" for girls looking to replicate their favorite actresses or models.

LYNN GREFE, NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION: Encouraging people to be ill is really what it is, and it`s like a secret cult. It`s a secret society and word spreads around.

ANDERSON: Word has most definitely been spreading around. Sites like these are popping up all over the Web. Do a Google search for pro-ana, and you`ll get thousands of hits, each and every one sending a dangerous message about eating disorders, that they`re actually a good thing.

VAN DUSEN: If you just type in anorexic, sometimes these come up. So, unfortunately, someone who is looking for help could come across a pro-ana site. In that vulnerable state, they could easily be swayed into participating in one of these communities or so-called communities.

ANDERSON: Marna Palmer was one of those people. She started her battle with eating disorders when she was 13 years old.

MARNA PALMER, LEANED ABOUT EATING DISORDERS FROM WEB SITE: I was -- laxatives, spending four hours a day at the gym. At my worst, I was throwing up seven or eight times a day.

ANDERSON: Our cameras caught up with her when she was 22 and on her way to recovery at the time, and she talked about her constant obsession with food.

PALMER: I honestly don`t know what normal people think about. That is something that`s just incredibly mind-boggling to me, to be able to think about something other than food, and working out, and comparing yourself to the other girls.

ANDERSON: During the height of her illness, Marna says she was a regular visitor to these websites.

PALMER: The 12 and 13-year-old girls that would come on saying, "I`m so fat. Please teach me how to be anorexic, teach me how to be bulimic."

ANDERSON: While no one knows for sure how many people visit the pro- ana sites, it is believed that it`s mainly adolescent girls who are clicking around.

PALMER: When you feel like you can`t talk to anybody, and you don`t want to get treatment, then these girls understand.

ANDERSON: And that`s precisely the problem: Eating disorders involve a great deal of shame, and professionals say the sites function as a crutch, as a way for visitors to remain closed off from help.


HAMMER: Actress and singer Scarlett Pomers says she used pro-ana sites while suffering from anorexia. Her illness got so bad, that she had to enter rehab and leave the set of "Reba," that`s the TV show she starred in alongside Reba McEntire. Well, Pomers is now in recovery and is an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT`s Brooke Anderson had a chance to speak with Scarlett and asked her why anyone would even visit websites that teach them how to be sick.


SCARLETT POMERS, SINGER AND ACTRESS: I my case, it was actually very strange, because about a year before I ever developed anything that resembled an eating disorder, I actually stumbled upon one of the websites through a very popular blogging site and I was really upset and very disturbed by it and I immediately contacted the host of the site and said, "Look at this. You have to get rid of this, this is horrible. I mean, look at what they`re doing, and saying, and telling each other." And basically, the blogging site wrote back to me saying that it was OK, it was free speech, and it`s better for them to have a place to talk. But...

ANDERSON: So you were healthy then?


ANDERSON: What changed? You were working on "Reba." What changed and when did you realize you had a serious problem?

POMERS: You know, it gets to a point where it goes from something maybe innocent, like just a diet, or you trying maintain the weight you have, or something like that, to where, you know, you start to develop more and more habits that are not ordinary or are destructive. And then I think, you know, it kind of starts out in the sense of, "I want to look a certain way," but then it becomes something completely different where it`s about the control.

ANDERSON: So it kind of creeps up on you?

POMERS: Yeah, it really does.

ANDERSON: Many say that these pro-ana sites are addictive. How was it for you? Were you looking on these websites monthly, weekly, daily?

POMERS: Daily, when it was really bad, yeah. And I think also your question before about why people would go to them if they were actively searching out pro-ana websites, I think it`s because they want to find something -- they want to find other people who they can relate to and so they won`t feel so alone, because when you have an eating disorder, you tend to isolate yourself very much. And, you know, in so many situations in which people are eating or you have to be normal with food, you can`t be sociable with people.

ANDERSON: But these are people you could identify with on this website?

POMERS: Yes, so we`re going through the same things.

ANDERSON: I was looking at the websites today, looking at some of them, and I was shocked at some of the tips that I read. They included smelling the garbage when you get a hunger pain so that you don`t want to eat, or cleaning something gross so that you lose your appetite. What are some of the more outrageous tips that you learned, and you used, and that also you were teaching others?

POMERS: Well, I actually don`t really like to talk about specifically what I did when I had my eating disorder or the tips that I learned, because I know that other girls who do have eating disorders, even though they might see someone like me who is in recovery and who is being, you know, more -- making healthier choices and living a good life after an eating disorder, they will use the tips for, you know, destructive behavior. So I prefer not to talk about it specifically what I did or what I learned, but definitely the ones that you described are some of the less extreme ones, I would say.


POMERS: And I -- it`s very upsetting and it`s very hard, because I think, you know, kids are spending so much time on the Internet and learning all of this stuff and have so much access to it and their parents don`t know, because the Internet wasn`t really part of their generation. So I think people just really need to kind of take care and watch what their kids are doing, no matter what age they are.

ANDERSON: Do you think you would have gotten as sick as you did, had you not stumbled upon these websites?

POMERS: No, I don`t think -- I think, well, I mean, it`s hard to say, but I think that it might not have happened as fast as it did, which maybe that`s a better thing, because I did get help very quickly, and -- but definitely I think that I wouldn`t have gotten so sick so fast if I hadn`t learned the different tricks and things.

ANDERSON: Some of these websites feature pictures of skinny celebrities, Mary Kate Olsen, I saw Calista Flockhart. How does the pressure in Hollywood to be so thin contribute to eating disorders and obsession with weight?

POMERS: You know, I think, I`ve actually been really lucky as an actress in Hollywood, because I`ve never been pressured by a producer or a studio or anything like that to be thinner or to lose weight, and I never had a problem with my weight. It wasn`t something that I overly obsessed about before I had an eating disorder. So I`ve been lucky, in that sense. And like I said, really, it starts out maybe you kind of feel like you need to improve something about yourself or you, you know, go on a diet.

ANDERSON: It gets bigger and bigger and bigger.

POMERS: But it becomes something where it`s not even about how you look anymore, because when you look so sick, and people know that you`re sick by looking at you, obviously, you know something is wrong.

ANDERSON: Well, we are very glad that you are in recovery. We know that it takes a lot of courage.


HAMMER: (INAUDIBLE) for speaking out. Scarlett Pomers` new CD, "Project Chains" is out now and the proceeds benefit the National Eating Disorders Association.

VARGAS: Well, now we want to hear from you. It`s our SHOWBIZ TONIGHT question of the day. Skinny Hollywood: Do you feel pressured to be thin? Go to and send us an e-mail

HAMMER: Well, J.K. Rowling is on a rant about the world`s obsession with weight. Now coming up, we`ll tell you why the "Harry Potter" author is attacking skinny models and the peoples who revere them.

VARGAS: Plus girls who are slicing and mutilating their own bodies. Tonight the shocking way some young women are dealing with the pressures of life. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT with a disturbing look at cutting coming up. We`ll also have this:


O`DONNELL: The ability to parent has nothing to do with your sexual orientation -- at all.


HAMMER: Rosie O`Donnell unplugged. Rosie opens up to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT about leading life as a gay parent, why it`s difficult and why it is her greatest joy.

First tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly: Great America Pop Quiz." In the film "Forrest Gump" what rival football team does Forrest`s Alabama squad play against? Was it A. Georgia; B. Miami; was it C. Atlanta; or maybe D. Tennessee?

Think about it and hang around. We`re coming right back with the answer.


HAMMER: Once again tonight`s "Entertainment Weekly: Great America Pop Quiz." In "Forrest Gump" what rival football team does Forrest`s Alabama squad play against? Was it A. Georgia; B. Miami; C. Atlanta; or was it D. Tennessee?

The answer, D. Tennessee.

VARGAS: Welcome back to a SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special on Hollywood and body image. I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood.

Now, "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling has a serious bone to pick with ultra skinny models and celebrities. She`s sick and tired of the message they are sending to young women, especially her two young daughters. She went off on the pressure to be skinny on her website saying she doesn`t want her two girls growing up in a skinny obsessed world.


VARGAS (voice-over): From Lindsay to Nicole to Teri, Hollywood is thinner than ever. And that has got one of the most successful authors in the world fuming. J.K. Rowling is the mastermind behind the wildly popular "Harry Potter" series. She`s also the mother of two young girls.

And today she`s fuming over the messages that ultra-thin celebrities are sending to young, impressionable people, especially her girls. On her website, Rowling writes, "I`ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in their skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me because I don`t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones." And she`s not alone. This nutritionist and author agrees, Hollywood is sending scary messages.

ELISA ZIED, AUTHOR, "SO WHAT CAN I EAT?!": I think by seeing all these so-called ideal images, it is encouraging children to take on unhealthy habits, which in turn can make them become very thin or become unhealthy.

VARGAS: J.K. Rowling is one of the most powerful women in the world. It was pictures of an emaciated woman in a magazine that made her want to speak out saying, "She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy, and having the world`s fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off, but her concave stomach, protruding ribs, and stick-like arms tell a different story. This girl needs help, but the world being what it is, they`re sticking her on magazine covers instead."

ZIED: She is absolutely right, because parents are having such a tough time explaining to their kids why they should be proud of how they look as individuals when all across the media we`re seeing very, very thin, unhealthy images.

VARGAS: Rowlings is rallying around pop star Pink whose hit song "Stupid Girls" takes dead aim at the Lindsay Lohan and Mary Kate Olsens of the world, saying brains are more important than bones and lip gloss.

Rowling writes: "`Stupid Girls` satirizes the talking toothpicks held up to girls are role models: those celebrities whose only function in the world appears to be supporting the trade in overpriced handbags and rat- sized dogs."

The pressure to be thin is stronger than ever, so strong, in fact, that many of our favorite stars have developed eating disorders.

JAMIE-LYNN SIGLER, ACTRESS: Within four months, I might probably have dropped almost 40 pounds.

VARGAS: Jamie-Lynn Sigler says she was eating next to nothing and exercising up to four hours a day before school, all why starring on HBO`s hit show "The Sopranos." She`s now a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association. So is "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, who suffered from bulimia.

PAULA ABDUL, "AMERICAN IDOL": I had a serious problem.

VARGAS: Take "Simple Life" star Nicole Richie. She`s lost a dramatic amount of weight, reportedly dropping below a hundred pounds. Still she says she`s never had a problem with food. Even her dad, singer Lionel Richie, stands by that telling us she only loses weight when she`s stressed out.

LIONEL RICHIE, SINGER: She`s OK though. I can tell that as a father. She`s good.

ZIED: I think when you see these images of thin, thin women, it may be some sort of red flag for an eating disorder. In some cases, it may not be, but if you see wide fluctuations in your favorite celebrity, chances are there`s something going on there and it might not be the most healthy thing.


VARGAS: And we just saw Nicole Richie in that piece and she had come forward about her weight admitting to "Vanity Fair" she is too skinny and is not happy with how she looks. She also says she`s seeing a doctor and a nutritionist and doesn`t want young girls to look up to her as a role model -- A.J.

HAMMER: Well, Sibila, what J.K. Rowling and Pink are saying and singing about has really hit a never. But the question is, is it painfully true? Well, that`s what I asked Suzan Shultz, she is the editor in chief of "Cosmo Girl," and that`s a fashion magazine aimed at teenage girls.


HAMMER: So I am curious. You write about this. This is your audience, these young girls. Is what J.K. Rowling is saying, is she overestimating the influence that people like Nicole Richie, who we were seeing those pictures of there, and Lindsay Lohan -- is she overestimating how influential those skinny starlets are on young women today?

SUSAN SCHULZ, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "COSMO GIRL": Well, it definitely has an influence. I mean, there`s no question about it. Girls say -- I mean, we actually just did a body image survey with all of our global editions, and the U.K. edition of "Cosmo Girl" was one of them. And the fact is, girls say that they think the media is hyping it too much. Over half of girls say, you know, we are not as influenced as you think. I mean, granted, they also aren`t really that satisfied with their bodies.

So it could -- you know, teenagers will talk out of both sides of their mouths because they`re going to be rebellious and say, oh, it`s not affecting us, I`m fine. But, you know, when they see all of this -- all of these girls looking so pretty and looking skinny, it definitely has an effect. There`s no question about it.

HAMMER: Because all we`ve been hearing for years is how the media is sending the wrong message to young people.

SCHULZ: Right, well, it`s true. And, you know, the other thing that was in our survey and J.K. Rowling would be happy to hear, is that the girls in the U.K. it`s actually more their parents and their siblings that they listen to when it comes to body image, whereas girls in the States, it definitely is media and celebrities. But overall girls say that they put pressure on themselves to, you know, kind of be skinnier.

HAMMER: We just talked about a couple of young women who came out, big Hollywood starlets who came out with eating disorders. Can they really influence girls or send them down the path towards bulimia or anorexia?

SCHULZ: Well, you know what? I mean, you have to realize that girls are confident for the most part. I mean, it`s not like every kid is going to become -- you know, have an eating disorder just because somebody in Hollywood does.

So it`s really girls who are sort of more predisposed, and scientists are looking into the fact that there`s, you know, a gene, that there`s actually -- you can be predisposed to have an eating disorder. And they are looking into that more and more.

So just the same way that kids weren`t going to go to school shooting just, you know, because of some song they heard or they weren`t going to go committing suicide because of that, this is kind of like the new media thing.

HAMMER: Same sort of thing.


HAMMER: I have less than 30 seconds, but I`m curious. You heard what J.K. had to say. Do you think she`s coming from a position of somebody who influences young people or, you know, as she said, she`s the mother of two? Or is it a little bit of both, maybe?

SCHULZ: Well, you know what, anybody who brings this up, whether it`s J.K. Rowling or Pink, you know, this is a good conversation to have because it is a problem and it is effecting girls. But I just want to underscore the fact that girls are confident and they`re not just going to be listening to, you know, what a celebrity says.


HAMMER: Once again, that was Susan Schultz, editor in chief of "Cosmo girl." You can check your news stand for the latest issue of "Cosmo Girl."

VARGAS: And the body issue thing hits close to home on the MTV reality shoe the "Real World." Coming up, we`ll look into how the show is dealing with one of it`s cast members struggle with an eating disorder. We`ll also have this:


O`DONNELL: Some people think it`s bad that there`s are two mommies. And said I know, and he said, I think I`m one of those people.


HAMMER: Rosie O`Donnell, the tough love of being a gay parent. Now, she admits there may be something her kids don`t have. That`s coming up in a riveting interview.

VARGAS: Plus, O.J. Simpson is back and his white Bronco. We`ll tell you why some people think his candid camera show is no laughing matter. Coming up, you`re watching a special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "Hollywood and Body Image."


HAMMER: And welcome back to this special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Time now for a story that made us say "That`s Ridiculous" when we got hold of it. O.J. Simpson has made a candid camera show called, "Juice." And that seems ridiculous enough, right there, but you`re not going to believe one of the pranks. Are you looking this video? We got this from "Inside Edition.` Now, in it, Simpson pretends that he`s trying to sell that infamous white Ford Bronco to a used car lot. In doing that he boasted, quote, "It helped me get away." Sounds kind of tasteless, well, Ron Goldman`s father told "Inside Edition" that he found Simpson`s morally reprehensible. Simpson, of course was acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, and then he was held liable by a civil jury which ordered him to pay $33.5 million to the Grown and Goldman families. Now, much of that money still remains unpaid, and Brown family attorney Gloria Allred says, she hopes that any money that Simpson makes from "Juice," will go to satisfy the judgment in the civil case. "Juice" is now able on DVD right now. And, we have to say, "That`s Ridiculous." Sibila, I can assure you, I will not be spending of my hard-earned money on that particular DVD

VARGAS: Neither will I. But, I mean, look at that DVD cover. I mean, that is ridiculous. That says it all.

HAMMER: We`re going to do that another time. He does need to raise the money and, you know, he`s doing whatever he can, I guess. Let`s just hope it all goes to the right place.

Well, as the SHOWBIZ TONIGHT special on Hollywood and body image continues tonight, girls who are slicing and mutilating their own bodies. SHOWBIZ TONIGHT has a disturbing look at cutting. That`s coming up.

VARGAS: Plus, real problems on "Real World" as one of its characters struggles with an eating disorder. We`ll look into how the show is dealing with the problem, coming up. We`ll also have this:


O`DONNELL: The ability to parent has nothing to do with your sexual orientation -- at all.


HAMMER: Rosie O`Donnell, unplugged. Rosie opens up to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, talking about life as a gay parent, why it`s difficult and why at the same time it`s her greatest joy.

SHOWBIZ TONIGHT is coming right back.



HAMMER: Welcome back to SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. It is 30 minutes past the hour. I am A.J. Hammer in New York.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news show.

Tonight, a special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT: "Hollywood and Body Image."

HAMMER: And coming up Sibila, a young woman with an eating disorder, anorexia, appearing on the MTV hit show "The Real World." Now some people are saying it is exploiting her just for a good storyline. Others are saying, no, it`s a good thing because it sheds some light on a really serious problem. We`ll look into that coming up in a few minutes.

VARGAS: Also tonight, A.J., Rosie O`Donnell opens up in a way that we have never seen her before. She is - it`s just a riveting interview with Paula Zahn that you`re not going to want to miss. That`s coming up a little bit later.

HAMMER: She said some stunning things.

But first tonight, it is a shocking trend that`s getting a lot more attention in Hollywood: self mutilation, or cutting, in which people - in many cases, young girls - cut into their skin with knives and razors. Plum sings about it on her new album.




HAMMER: She wrote the song "Cut," when a girl who is a cutter, posted a note to Plum`s MySpace profile. And in the 2003 movie "Thirteen," the teenager played by Evan Rachel Wood, would sneak into a bathroom to cut herself. Even Angelina Jolie has admitted to once having a fascination with knives and self injury.

The big questions are: why do kids do it, and how can they stop?

Here`s Adora Udoji for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.


ADORA UDOJI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driven by hope, 16-year- old Danielle and her mom traveled all the way from Tennessee here to Linden Oaks Hospital outside Chicago.



OBENHUBER: OK. Cold is good. Better than other things.

UDOJI: Other things, dark and dangerous things, brought them here in search of help.

HURST: I`m ready. I`m - I`m ready to change. I really want to do this for myself.

UDOJI: For years, Danielle - a cheerleader, a gifted student, a budding actress, has kept a secret from nearly everyone. Always smiling, but battling depression and teenage stress using scissors and knives to cut herself.

HURST: It made me feel like all my troubles were flowing out. And it wasn`t blood, it was - you know, it was - my troubles with my mom, and my problems at school and my body image.

UDOJI (on camera): Shocking to some, but experts estimate up to 6 million Americans injure or mutilate themselves, often through cutting. And that number, the say, is growing.

(voice-over): Danielle started at 12 when it felt like she was fighting with everyone in her life.

HURST: Now I had this thing that made me feel better and it wasn`t drug. And I was excited because, you know, it was, like, this is perfect. Why didn`t I think of this before? And so it just got worse and worse and worse.

UDOJI: Rock bottom came when she was 16. Danielle was so depressed she could barely leave her room. And she hurt herself so badly she was always wearing long sleeves.

HURST: I had to do it every couple hours, you know - make myself feel better. And it felt like...

UDOJI (on camera): Just to get through the day?

HURST: Oh, yes.

UDOJI (voice-over): Danielle`s mother remembers the shock when her daughter first showed her the scars.

OBENHUBER: This just can`t be happening to me. I had a baby girl. We`re just going to get this fixed right now, make it go away. It`s - it`s a silly thought. Things like that don`t go away.

UDOJI: Her parents sent her to therapists and treatment programs. Nothing worked.

OBENHUBER: I never have any words of wisdom.

HURST: I know.

UDOJI: Finally, they came here, to Self Abuse Finally Ends Alternatives, a 30-day in-patient program specializing in self injury.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Impulse-control disorder.

UDOJI: Doctors say self-injury ranges from cutting to burning to beating oneself, and is often symptomatic of other problems, like depression, anxiety or sexual abuse.

HURST: It`s just utter hopelessness and other, you know, depression.

UDOJI: Right away, Danielle joined the two dozen others in a program.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, my name is Julianne (ph). I`m 30 and I (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Tom (ph). I`m 19 and I`m from Long Island, New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name`s Em (ph). I am 16 and I`m...

UDOJI: They come from all over North America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a mother of two, and my self injury was getting in the way of being a better parent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Self injury was an - well, it still is, a way for me to relax.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just do it because it releases the pain that I feel inside.

UDOJI: Though it`s mostly females here, experts estimate 40 percent of those who injure themselves are male. They say there`s no typical profile; people from all races, ages and economic backgrounds do it. But they all have one thing in common:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does it always hurt? I mean is it - is that...


UDOJI: Hard to believe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boxcutters galore...

UDOJI: ...when Danielle and her new friends are talking about boxcutters, knives, razors. But the cutting`s like an anesthetic, says Wendy Lader, co-founder of Safe Alternatives. She says they`re not trying to kill themselves; they`re trying to stop the pain.

DR. WENDY LADER, CO-FOUNDER, SAFE ALTERNATIVES: It`s sort of anti- suicide. They`re trying to survive.


UDOJI: The program aims, through group therapy up to nine hours a day, to teach them new ways to survive. Five days in, Danielle`s talking about painful memories.

HURST: (INAUDIBLE) because it`s just a flashback of something that I`ve done or...

UDOJI (on camera): Did it feel more out of control when you were with other people?

HURST: Oh, yes. It`s like - it`s like, it`s a competition, to see who can leave the biggest mark and use the most blood. It was - it was very, very dangerous.

UDOJI (voice-over): Many can`t seem to stop, but Dr. Lader insists self-mutilators can be treated.

LADER: This is coping strategy, and I - I definitely believe that when kids learn to handle their emotions, (INAUDIBLE) should be able to face their fears directly, that they can, in fact, get better.

UDOJI: Here, doctors believe everything should be in the open, including sharp objects, so Danielle and the others learn to control their impulses.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Danielle, congratulations on graduating from SAFE.

UDOJI: After four tough weeks...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s it feel, lady (ph)? To be a graduate.

HURST: Liberating.

UDOJI: After two weeks at home, she`s still feeling optimistic.

HURST: My whole world doesn`t change because I went through SAFE. But I`m the one that changed, and I know how to fight the feelings now.

UDOJI: And Danielle knows that every day she`ll be tested.


HAMMER: That is so incredibly disturbing. Nice to see a positive outcome there. That was Adora Udoji for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.

VARGAS: Well, from cutting to another series disorder: anorexia. Millions of Americans struggle with this illness, but is it something that should be shown on reality television? Well, MTV executives certainly thought so. They chose a woman with some intense personal issues, including an eating disorder, to be part of "The Real World." Now some people say her story helps shed light on the subject. But others say that making her part of the storyline exploits her situation.


VARGAS (voice-over): This is 24-year-old Paula. She`s one of the seven cast members on MTV`s 17th season of "The Real World." She`s caught in a downhill spiral.

PAULA MERONEK, CAST MEMBER, THE REAL WORLD: I`m supposed to be going to a doctor. Basically going to be letting me know that I`m crazy and that there`s a lot of things wrong.

VARGAS: An eating disorder, depression, and a violent past relationship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her boyfriend used to beat the (bleep) out of her for three years, put her in the hospital five times.

VARGAS: In the 10 episodes that have aired so far, Paula has been open about her past. She tells roommates that her former boyfriend was abusive, a subject she gets upset about mostly when the crew is drinking, which seems to be very often.

MERONEK: I take diet pills.

VARGAS: She`s also open about her eating disorder issues. She has a history of bulimia and diet pills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anorexic -- when she walked in the house, I thought she was going to break in half.

VARGAS: But despite her willingness to talk about her problems, some people are worried. Should someone like Paula be cast on a popular TV show?

From what SHOWBIZ TONIGHT can tell, MTV and "The Real World" casting department did know about Paula`s problems. In a statement to "The New York Times," the show`s co-creator Jonathan Murray says, "Because she was so self-aware about it, and because she had off and on thought about doing something about them, we came to the conclusion that it was OK to put her in this show."

Paula herself said that she felt more out of control the longer she was in Key West, where the show was taped this season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paula needs professional help.

VARGAS: Almost right off the bat, Paula`s roommates suggested she try to get her problems under control. And it was MTV executives who paid for Paula to get professional help. In this week`s episode, they sent her to a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about your weight?

MERONEK: I think it`s fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how much do you weigh?

MERONEK: Like 100 pounds.


VARGAS: And Paula has said that MTV saved her life. She says she doesn`t know where she would be without the help and support she received while taping in Key West.

HAMMER: Well coming up, if you hate going to the movies and seeing commercials before the feature presentation, we`ve got some not-so-great news for you. Someone out there actually likes the idea because its expanding beyond the movies, and we think it`s ridiculous. That`s coming up next.

Plus, we`ve got this:


ROSIE O`DONNELL, ENTERTAINER: Some people think it`s bad that there`s two mommies. And I said, I know. And he said, I think I`m one of those people.


VARGAS: And Rosie O`Donnell, the tough love of being a gay parent. She admits there may be something her kids don`t have, coming up in a riveting interview.

A special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "Hollywood and Body Image," continues after this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by to break, Master Control. Roll the break, effect black.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fade up music. Sibila, stand by in Hollywood. Ready, A.J. on Camera 5. And mic A.J., first dissolve 2 (ph).

HAMMER: Welcome back to a special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT, "Hollywood and Body Image." This is TV`s most provocative entertainment news hour. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

And it`s time now for another story that just made us say, "That`s Ridiculous!" Well, if you just can`t stand it when you have to sit through all those commercials in the movie theaters, bad news: ads may soon be coming to a stage near you. You heard me correct. Actors will actually be acting out live, scripted commercials, and they`ll be using the sights and sounds of London before the start of plays. Now this started in Dublin, Ireland, and the idea is heading to New York and Germany and even Pittsburgh. Blimey! Why, you ask? Well, apparently officials want to boost tourism to the U.K. But we got to say, stage ads, that`s bloody ridiculous.

Although Sibila, I will tell you, I would prefer to sit through stager ads acted out by real, live people than sit through the long commercials that we`re used to seeing on television that we now see in the movie theaters all the time.

VARGAS: You got a point there, A.J. But then again, if you got "Les Miserables," which I - which I went to go see, that`s three hours, and then you`ve got intermission. (INAUDIBLE). That could be a little bit ridiculous.

HAMMER: You take a little extra time and you hang out in the lobby. I don`t know.

VARGAS: All right. Well, shifting gears, the issue of body image in Hollywood is something Rosie O`Donnell knows all about. And it`s a topic she`s been very vocal on. Just ask Star Jones Reynolds, you know what I mean?

But when it comes to pressures in Hollywood, it`s not just body image, but lifestyle image she has to had to contend with. As one gay woman, Rosie has struggled before she came out of the closet and had to deal with many more issues when she finally did go public, and as you`ll see in this special edition interview with CNN`s Paula Zahn for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT.



PAULA ZAHN, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": (voice over): Rosie O`Donnell.

O`DONNELL: What happened with that, guys?

ZAHN: Talk show host.

TOM HANKS, ACTOR: There`s no crying in baseball.

O`DONNELL: Why don`t you leave her alone Jimmy?

ZAHN: Actress.

O`DONNELL: Familiar with stretch jeans? I bought them. Size 11/12. I stretched them into a 15/16.

ZAHN: Comedian.

O`DONNELL: You know, the tag says 11/12, and that`s what is important, damn it.

ZAHN: For years, she was the "Queen of Nice," a nickname she says never quite fit. But the last few years have brought many changes for Rosie. A woman who came into our living rooms every morning like a friend has become a stay-at-home mom.

I had a rare opportunity to catch up with Rosie. We talked about her family, her childhood, and the moment she realized she was gay.

O`DONNELL: I didn`t have a family to come out to.

My mother died when I was 10, my father was not really present, we were -- we raised ourselves, essentially. And, you know, I told my sister when I was 18. I am like, "I think I`m gay." She`s like "Really?" I`m like, "Yeah." She`s like, "How do you know?" I am like, "I had a crush on Christa Lucci (ph) in college." She`s like, "I guess that means you are." I`m like, "Yeah. Let`s go to Friendly`s."

ZAHN: While Rosie says that her sexuality wasn`t that big of a deal, in the early 90s, it was a very big deal to be out in Hollywood.

O`DONNELL: This was before Ellen, you have to remember this. This was even before Melissa was out. You know, k.d. was sort of the first one of our friends because we were all friends, we were all little young lesbian together in Hollywood. We used to have parties and we all knew each other, and it was very, you know, fun to remember.

And I remember k.d. came out it was like the big thing, and everybody was like what is going to happen? And we would call each other. And then Melissa came out, and well we -- well, Ellen and I remember talking with her, well they`re rock stars, it`s different. And I wasn`t really willing to come out and say that I was gay until I knew I was with the person I was going to be with forever.

ZAHN: And Rosie finally met that person in Kelli Carpenter. But while Rosie`s siblings were accepting of them, Rosie`s biggest challenge was winning over Kelli`s conservative family. Kelli`s mother was particularly tough.

O`DONNELL: When I met Kelli`s parents, they were -- you know, very anti-gay. They were very born again Christian southerners and she told me that there was no way they would ever come to our house if they knew that we were a couple.

ZAHN (on-camera): Never accept you?

O`DONNELL: "Never" is what she said to me. But they`ve come -- I have to say, when you think of where they started to where they are, it gives me hope for anyone. It`s totally changed and altered their world view and I think opened them up in a way that they never expected.

ZAHN (voice over): Rosie still wasn`t publicly out. She and Kelli, though, were in a committed relationship and living as a family. Rosie had already adopted a son, Parker, before meeting Kelli, and then the couple adopted two more children, Chelsea and Blake, and were also foster- parenting a 5-year-old girl in Florida, where they were living.

Rosie finally came out as a gay parent in March of 2002.

O`DONNELL: As you know, I am a foster parent here in the state of Florida. I have a child...

ZAHN: She was motivated when the ACLU brought suit against the state of Florida for preventing homosexuals from adopting foster children. She was now an advocate and also a target, accused of having concealed her sexuality.

O`DONNELL: I felt sort of out, believe it or not. I thought everyone knew, too. I - you know, when I would say that I was in love with Tom Cruise and people would say, well that was all an act. It is not an act. It`s not an act. I never said that I want to have sex with him. I said I wanted him to come over and mow my lawn in a T-shirt and jeans and bring me lemonade.

ZAHN (on-camera): But you also didn`t say you had the hots for Angelina Jolie?

O`DONNELL: No, but I think if you watch the show you could tell. No, and you`re right, and I think that is a fair argument, and when people would say that to me, I always would say, you know, but Tom Cruise was not a lie, but there was another part of the story that was left unsaid.

And I don`t really function in a level of sexuality of sex in general, gay or straight, kind of on the surface. I think that it`s very internal for me. It is something that, you know, I don`t - I don`t see somebody and think, "oh," I don`t go to that. It doesn`t go there for me.

ZAHN (voice-over): A very private matter that was now being played out in public.

O`DONNELL: I didn`t think at the time that it was that huge. Now since coming out, I think it was huger than I realized, you know?

ZAHN (on camera): So you never made a calculation that if I come out, this is going to hurt my livelihood?

O`DONNELL: No. In fact, when I took the job in 1995 with Warner Brothers for the talk show, I remember before I took it I sat down with all the businessmen suits and asked for a meeting of everyone and I said to their faces, everyone at this room, I want you to know that I`m gay. I`m always going to be gay; it`s not going to change -- I`m not going to become un-gay. I can`t imagine saying ever it publicly. I don`t feel the need to. But if it were to come out, I need to know you all right with that and be supportive of me, because I will never deny it. And they all said no, that`s fine and thank you for telling us.

If you want to find out how to adopt, tomorrow`s the day to watch the show.

ZAHN: What is the worst form of discrimination you`ve suffered from once you came out of the closet?

O`DONNELL: The worst was not being allowed to adopt the foster child that we raised in Florida. We were told by our lawyer that we would have to perjure ourselves. We would have to lie and sign a form in the state of Florida, a form that says you are not now and have never been a homosexual in order to adopt a child, even a foster child that you raised. We were told that we were not allowed to adopt this child without...


O`DONNELL: ... becoming a felon. Exactly.

ZAHN (voice-over): Realizing they couldn`t adopt that foster child, the couple was devastated. They wanted more children.

But this time they chose instead for Kelli to give birth using donor sperm. Vivian was born in late 2002. Rosie was out, she was proud, and she was a gay mother of four.

O`DONNELL: To say that it - it`s comes without problems is a lie. But to say that parenting for heterosexual families comes without problems is an illusion, too.

ZAHN (on camera): But you have to acknowledge, Rosie, there are people out there who are fearful that gay parents are imposing their sexuality on their children.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and if you look at studies, you know, every study that has ever been done shows that there are no greater percentages of gay children that come out of gay families. So although I know that it`s frightening for some people, the ability to parent has nothing to do with your sexual orientation -- at all.

And anyway, your sex life with your husband has nothing to do with your ability to parent your children. And I will say that it brings different challenges to the lives of children who are raised by gay parents, but it also brings tremendous opportunity to learn about acceptance and tolerance and bigotry.

ZAHN (voice-over): Even so, everyday life brings with it some very tough questions from her kids. This one from eldest son, Parker.

O`DONNELL: He came over to me and he said, "You know, Mom, some people think it is bad that there`s two mommies." And I said, "I know." And he said, "I think I`m one of those people." He was 5 years old.

ZAHN (on camera): And Mom said?

O`DONNELL: And I said, "Really? Why you to think that." He goes, "Because I think it`s good to have a mom and a dad." I said, It is good to have a mom and a dad. A mom and a dad is a great family. But in this family you have a mommy who wants another mommy. So in order for you to have a daddy you would have to not have me as a mommy."

And he sat and he thought and he took like about a minute. He looked up and said, "Well, I guess I`ll just keep you then." I said, "All right."

There is that moment where you feel there is something that this child is not having because of me. You know, my common theme with our kids is half empty, half full. You can, the rest of your life, be missing what you think is in that glass. Or the rest of your life, enjoy what is in there. It`s your choice. And so it works for our - for our family.


VARGAS: Again, that was CNN`s Paula Zahn for SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Stick around. We`ll be right back.


VARGAS: Welcome back.

Now we`ve been talking about Hollywood and body image throughout this special edition SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. So we`ve been asking you to vote on our "Question of the Day": "Skinny Hollywood: Do you feel pressured to be thin?" Well, keep voting at and write us at We appreciate all of your e-mails, and we`ll read some of them tomorrow.

HAMMER: And that is it for this special edition of SHOWBIZ TONIGHT. Thank you so much for watching. I`m A.J. Hammer in New York.

VARGAS: And I`m Sibila Vargas in Hollywood. Have a great night. And stay tuned for the latest from CNN Headline News.


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