Leah Anderson, like many other young women, nearly starved herself to death trying to achieve a seemingly unattainable standard of beauty, so a new plus-size doll that emulates a more curvaceous model offers a welcome dose of reality for her.
When Anderson was growing up, the idea of beauty was often portrayed in the media by super-skinny models, causing her to become obsessed with trying to alter her body to fit that image.
When her soccer coach asked her to gain some weight, Anderson complied, but then decided to shed pounds. Soon her dieting spiraled out of control.
"I started gaining the weight back, or gaining weight, when my coach told me to," Anderson told ABCNEWS affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle. "And then I just flipped out, completely flipped out and stopped eating all together."
Then she started obsessing over her body, causing her to lose an immense amount of weight.
"I got down to a little over 90 pounds and I'm over 5 [feet] 8 — so I lost a good 50, 60 pounds probably," she said.
An Uncontrollable Obsession
However, Anderson's uncontrollable obsession still made her believe that she needed to lose more weight.
"You still feel fat at 90 pounds," she said.
Starting in her freshmen year of college, Anderson became addicted to glamour magazines, and that obsession continued for 2 ½ years.
"I was just obsessed with numbers and the facts and statistics, and things like that, the images that you see in the magazines of these models and you just are like, 'I'm just not like that, so I need to be,'" she said.
Everyone was aware that Anderson had a problem except her. She had to hit rock bottom before she asked for help, and only then learned that every body is beautiful.
"If I did not get help, I would have died," she said.
However, Anderson wasn't the only victim of the media's portrayal of perfection.
"Models only represent two percent of the American public, so that means 98 percent of the people don't look like women they see in magazines and on TV," said Holly Hoff, of the National Eating Disorder Association.
Hoff says four out of five women are not satisfied with their bodies and, like Anderson, look to fashion models and magazines for beauty and body standards.
A New Standard of Beauty
Many women look more like the full-sized model Emme (née Melissa Miller). Emme is 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds and wears a size 16, according to media reports.
As a supermodel, television host, best-selling author, lecturer and clothing designer, Emme has set a new standard of beauty for larger women. She became the first full-figured model ever to receive a cosmetic contract when she was signed by Revlon. She has twice been named as one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People."
Emme believes natural beauty comes from your attitude, style, and confidence. Now, through her new Emme doll, which will appear soon on store shelves, she hopes to send that message to young girls.
"Finally we can see a doll that is closer to looking like what we see everyday," said Hoff.
Anderson wishes a doll like Emme could have been around sooner.
"If you really do think about it, yeah, it could have been a completely different society today if they had dolls like that 10 to 20 years ago when I was a kid," she said.
Michelle Esteban, from ABCNEWS affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle, contributed to this report.