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Irish actress Evanna Lynch opens up about overcoming an eating disorder


by Jennifer McShane
09th Oct 2018
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Irish actress – and Harry Potter favourite – Evanna Lynch may have made her mark on the big screen as the now beloved Luna Lovegood, but off-screen, she’s just as powerful a force.  She’s proud of her roots, hailing from Termonfeckin,’ and is still a role model for thousands of young, impressionable women, despite it being 10 years since her role in the franchise.

Perhaps this remains why she is unafraid to speak out about an eating disorder that affected her from just 11-years-old. The now 27-year-old is making waves across the pond as one of the contestants on the US version of Strictly – Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) – and has opened up about her friendship with J.K. Rowling. They started off as pen pals, and long before Lynch was cast as one of Rowling’s characters, the star said the author helped saved her life.

“Her books and kindness made me want to live again”

Lynch explained she was battling an eating disorder that had taken over her life when letters from Rowling helped her to overcome her illness. “When I was like 11, 12, I was battling an eating disorder. Anyone who’s had an eating disorder knows it completely takes over your life,” she said. “And the only thing that could actually take my attention apart from that was the Harry Potter series.”

 

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“I started writing to J.K. Rowling and she wrote back and we became pen friends after that,” said Lynch. “I was in and out of hospital and I was quite sick and I would be getting these letters.”

Reflecting on what was a notoriously difficult time her life, Lynch said that Rowling’s “books and her kindness really made me want to live again.”

“Even now, it boggles me, how she had the time,” Lynch told IMAGE. “I think she has an amazing heart. I was very sick at the time, and I told her that Harry Potter was my only distraction from that. I told her all my insecurities, and I guess she related to that. I guess I knew she would, I knew she would be sensitive enough to understand. She sometimes told me in letters about how insecure she felt as a young girl, and that she injects that into all her characters – the outsider feeling. Especially in Luna and Neville [Longbottom].”

Turning into everyone else

Lynch previously shared the striking moment she gained confidence in her own skin in the July issue of IMAGE Magazine last year – and it was when she was battling her disorder in hospital. She was, she says, “obsessed with physical perfection” before realising that it was taking away her sparkle.

“I remember distinctly a moment in treatment for an eating disorder when, in a room full of young women who were similarly obsessed with physical perfection, it dawned on me that I was just turning into everyone else. All these girls had committed themselves solely to their own bodies, and the pursuit of physical perfection was consuming our minds, our personalities, our potential, whittling away at everything that made us unique.”

She has well and truly overcome some life-altering hurdles – just look at her performing a dreamy waltz to Hedwig’s Tune on DWTS.  “I love the feeling of creating and acting more than I love the feeling of being skinny or of being perfect,” she added, before saying that even landing her dream role didn’t take away her insecurities.

“You are constantly having to choose between the negative voice that’s in your head telling you that you’re terrible at everything, that you suck. And then the voice saying, ‘No, I can be something.’

“I just want to say that once you put yourself out there and believe in yourself, things happen.”

Empowering, eloquent and a woman who can magically waltz with the best of them – we need more Evanna Lynch in our lives.