Contrary to what body-shamers may believe, Ellen Pompeo has not had an eating disorder, and she's here to set the record straight. "I used to get a lot of criticism for how thin I was, and I didn’t have a lot confidence because of it," she told People. "But I was naturally thin." The Grey's Anatomy actress said that the constant speculation about her body was harmful not only to her, but also to her fans. "I always thought it was irresponsible of the media to portray me as someone with an eating disorder because if some girls look up to me and think that’s what you have to do to look like me, it’s a horrifying concept," she said. "I listened to the criticism a little too much — and this was pre-social media. It’s even crazier to think what women have to deal with now." She has a point — after all, 42% of women we polled earlier this year reported having felt bad about their bodies as a direct result of social media. That's not to say that social media is all bad, of course, or that it necessarily causes body-shaming. Body-shaming is a cultural problem that gets magnified on social media platforms for a variety of reasons. However, the ease of sending a relatively anonymous comment means that high-profile women like Pompeo (and Ashley Graham), are even more susceptible to unwarranted negativity and criticism over what their bodies look like. Sadly, this isn't the first time Pompeo has had to debunk eating disorder rumors, which have circulated since Grey's Anatomy launched her into the spotlight in 2005. Addressing those "irresponsible" rumors back in 2007, she told Los Angeles Confidential Magazine, "I just worry about the girls who look up to me. I don't want them to think I starve myself or don't eat, and that to be like me that's what they have to do." These days, Pompeo says aging has helped her realize that your life and health are about so much more than appearance. "I think when you’re in your 20s and 30s, you’re super obsessed with your looks because you don’t have any other wisdom," she said. "I have the wisdom to know that growing old is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. If my physical beauty is the only thing that leaves me and my health and my family stay, then that is what’s really important to me." Pompeo's concern over how her public image affects fans is admirable — and it's probably a big part of what makes her such a role model.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.