By Liana Jacob

THIS woman who was driven to become a six-stone anorexic by bullies has defied them by recovering from her condition and landing her dream of a career in fashion.

Fitness trainer, Em Haas (24), from New Jersey, USA, was only five or six years old when she started getting bullied at school. When family members began comparing her to her sister, the negative comments began sinking into her subconscious, leading her to restrict her food.

Em before. Em Haas /


Em was a tiny 6st 5Ibs and UK size two when she was just 15-year-old. The more compliments she would get, the more it motivated her to lose more weight. She began skipping meals when she went out with friends, she lied to her parents about her food intake, and she became ‘obsessed’ with getting smaller.

After receiving a shocking diagnosis from her doctors that her body would ‘shut down’ if she kept going the way she was going, Em realised she had to get better. By the age of 17, she reached a healthy weight of 10st and UK size six to eight and was in the fashion industry for six years after, but has since left fashion to pursue fitness.

Em before. Em Haas /

“I was bullied in school and by family members regarding my weight and constantly compared to my older sister who didn’t struggle as much with a weight issue,” she said.

“What was being absorbed into my subconscious at a young age, grew and I became super body-conscious as a teenager who equated worthiness or acceptance with being thin.

Em before. Em Haas /


“The beginning of my illness started simply by restricting my food and doing long hours of cardio, quickly realising that the more I did and less I made up for it in the kitchen, the more I lost.

“I became obsessed with getting smaller as it meant more instances to show my family and others who had teased me growing up that I was ‘good enough’ out of spite and self-hatred.

“The more people noticed or commented on how small I was, the better I felt about myself. From April to August, I had gone from 135 to 140 pounds to about 89 pounds.

Before and after. Em Haas /


“My whole summer was spent lying to loved ones, pushing my worried family so I could be alone with my illness.

“I would bury, hide and throw away food, kicking and screaming when my mum would sit me down to watch me eat, feeling like a child all over again.

Before and after. Em Haas /


“But this time, I never felt more disgusted, ashamed and uncomfortable in my own skin. With a heart rate of thirty-five beats per minute, the doctors finally just told me and my parents, for me to start recovering or my body was going to continue shutting down.

“After a few months of just ‘going through the motions’, putting on weight for family and doctors to get off my back, I started to realise how much I was missing in my life.

Em now. Em Haas /


“I began to notice girls my age having curves, going out with boys, fitting into clothing, while the opposite sex was afraid to touch me; all the bones were still showing through my clothes and dresses were the only thing that fit me.

“Another huge wake-up call was when my doctor pointed out to me during a check-up that my dream of going to New York and pursuing my career in fashion design would never happen if I didn’t recover.

Now (L) Before (R). Em Haas /


“Overcoming anorexia has allowed me to have a new appreciation for my body than just looking a certain way.

“After feeling my muscles burning out with five-pound dumbbells, my joints feeling brittle and my heart racing when I would sneak out on runs while my mum was at work, there is no greater feeling than feeling like my body has no limit when it comes to reaching its optimal potential.

Em after. Em Haas /


“It physically does not make sense that I am even alive today so therefore I feel like I was given a second chance for a reason.”

From consuming as little as 230 to 290 calories a day, Em now eats a wide variety of high fiber food, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and good sources of fat. She now consumes between 2,000 to 2,100 calories a day and weight trains four days a week.

“I found that by chasing the physical side of recovery first, is what took my confidence so long to heal,” Em said.

Em after. Em Haas /


“This is something that I continue to stress to my clients now; chasing the physical side of fitness won’t last long, it’s developing the mindset and the self-confidence that makes you recover.

“My family and friends see how motivated, happy and self-confident I am without having the illness control me anymore.

“Stop living in your head and start living in your heart. Your life begins the moment you love yourself.

Em now. Em Haas /


“I find myself to be a strong, beautiful light in this world that I want to continue to shine on others who are still in the dark.”

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