She’s become a fan favorite of Harry Potter since making her debut as Luna Longevity in 2007 – but at the time her casting was announced, Evanna Lynch was trolling mercilessly on social media.
Now 30, Lynch, who played the beloved character in four of the eight films, has opened up about her struggles with anorexia from age 11 to 13, and how it resulted in brutal self-loathing even after she physically recovered from the condition.
Speaking with the Sunday Times Magazine, the actress revealed that she would troll herself on Harry Potter fan sites and cruelly criticize her appearance, from what she called her “floppy cheeks” to her “blunt little, grease-stained fingers.”
She explained that trolling herself was a way to express her self-loathing, and that she became addicted to reading bad things about herself.
Evanna Lynch, 30, who played Luna Longevity in the Harry Potter movie saga, revealed she was trolling herself online after struggling with anorexia as a child (depicted as Luna in the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)
The actress spoke candidly about her self-loathing, which she expressed by feeding on negative comments written about her online (pictured in 2016 in Universal City, California)
The actress revealed that she would scrupulously criticize her appearance, writing of her hair ‘did she have to skin a hundred Barbies for that fake blonde wig?’
She also wrote: “She looks like she’s bathed in the grease from McDonald’s chips. Will she keep her next Big Mac meal in the folds of her floppy cheeks? Ugly inbred little troll!’
Looking back on this dark time of her life, Evanna said an eating disorder was one’s worst bully.
“The meanest person lives in your own head, so anyone out there can handle you. It didn’t come as a shock to me when I was criticized. I was looking forward to it, I expected it,” she said.
Evanna revealed that she became addicted to reading negative comments about herself, and that it felt “safe.”
The actress shared how she became pen pals with JK Rowling and told her she wanted to play Luna Longevity in the film (pictured on the set of Lorraine on October 21)
She explained that she reasoned that if she was mean to herself first, nothing other people would say would affect her.
She added that the people who mocked her online reflected what she believed about herself, and made her feel it would be okay to go to the “darkest place.”
WHAT IS ANOREXIA?
Anorexia is a serious mental illness in which a person restricts their food intake, often leaving them severely underweight.
Many also exercise excessively.
Some patients may experience periods of binge eating followed by purging.
Sufferers often have a distorted view of themselves and think they are bigger than they actually are.
Left untreated, patients can experience loss of muscle and bone strength, as well as depression, low libido and cessation of menstruation in women.
In severe cases, patients can develop heart problems and organ damage.
Behavioral features of anorexia include people saying they have already eaten or will do so later, as well as counting calories, skipping meals, hiding food, and eating slowly.
In addition to weight loss, patients may experience insomnia, constipation, bloating, feeling cold, hair loss and swelling of the hands, face and feet.
Treatment focuses on therapy and self-help groups to encourage healthy eating and coping mechanisms.
Source: Beat Eating Disorders
However, Evanna explained that reading these comments quickly became all-encompassing and she realized that her life would be cold and empty if she didn’t stop.
So she forced herself to think positively to turn away from trolling.
She said her memoir, The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting, published last month, was the latest step in her recovery.
The Harry Potter star, who spent two years in and out of clinics battling anorexia after being hospitalized for the first time at age 11, now considers herself fully recovered.
Evanna, who grew up in Termonfeckin, a rural village in Co Louth, on the east coast of Ireland, also shared her life-changing correspondence with Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
She started developing her eating disorder after her 11th birthday and said there was no obvious cause for it, it just “happened” to her.
She added that she felt a sense of achievement when she weighed herself and the scales went down, but she became increasingly miserable as the disease progressed.
While she didn’t credit it as the main cause of her condition, she said growing up in an era when size zero stars were praised for their looks was a contributing factor.
Like most kids her age, Lynch was obsessed with the Harry Potter books growing up, and she was “captivated” by the character Luna Longevity as soon as she read about her in the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
She said that Luna quickly became one of her favorite characters and that she became jealous of the character’s sense of self-acceptance.
This prompted her to write a letter to JK Rowling, where she told her about her eating disorder.
She said Rowling wrote her back a few days later with a kind and compassionate message, and the two became pen pals, writing to each other every few weeks to keep in touch.
She revealed that she told the author she wanted to play Luna Longevity in the Harry Potter movie, and eventually managed to land the part, which kick-started her acting career.
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