[USAToday] Barbi Twins: Beauty Taken to Extremes

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From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Wed Sep 13 2000 - 19:02:41 PDT

Oh come on, no one can eat twenty cases of girl scout cookies in a week:


Beauty taken to extremes
Sept. 12, 2000
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

The Barbi twins made a splash with their top-selling Playboy magazine
covers, centerfolds and pinup calendars in the early to mid-'90s. Now,
they're back, but this time they're revealing something even more sensational.

Sia and Shane Barbi, now 36, are going public with details of their
struggle with compulsive overeating, anorexia and bulimia, the
binge-and-purge eating disorder, during their modeling career.

In stories that stretch the limits of the imagination, they say they often
crash-dieted before photo shoots, then gobbled everything they could get
their hands on from huge carts of rich desserts to pounds of chocolate.
Afterward, they would purge their systems by vomiting, taking huge
quantities of laxatives or exercising for hours on end.

The twins insist this isn't an attempt for more stardom.

"We want to be honest with women," says Shane. "Our career was developed
out of the shame and guilt of our disease."

"We wanted to tell the true story behind the pictures," says Sia, who
offers tales of bizarre eating behaviors in her new book, Dying to Be
Healthy (Pentimento Entertainment, $12.95). They have several lectures
scheduled, and they say they are being bombarded with requests to tell
their story to students on university campuses, where eating disorders are

Their tale dates back to their childhood. By age 9 or 10, they were
compulsive overeaters.

At one time, they ate 20 cases of Girl Scout cookies in a week, according
to one passage in the book. Say what? Was that 20 boxes or 20 cases?

"Nobody believes it, but we were that sick," Shane says.

The twins are non-stop talkers, who interrupt each other and finish each
other's sentences. They sometimes make light of some of the crazy things
they did, but for years it was a life-threatening problem that dominated
their lives.

During their modeling career, they tried every crash diet imaginable,
including single-fruit diets. One time they ate only watermelon for a week,
consuming as many as six large watermelons in one day. Another time it was

Still another time, recounted in the book, they had a friend lock them in
an apartment with nothing but distilled water for what they thought would
be 40 days. They lasted for 10 days but got so hungry, they tied some bed
sheets together and climbed out of a third-floor window, weakly ran to a
nearby convenience store and gorged on pastries, candy and other fattening

Some of these stories seem over-the-top, but the twins say they are true.
"They show insanity," Sia says. "Food was our drug of choice, and I
literally would do anything for food."

Although she doesn't know the Barbis' case, psychiatrist Nada Stotland,
professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago, says that
anorexics and bulimics sometimes do things that seem beyond the imagination.

"These are extreme cases that are being described, but people with eating
disorders do go to extremes," she says.
To try to compensate for all their binges, Shane would often make herself
vomit. They also both also went through periods of starving themselves or
exercising compulsively.

Over time, their weight yo-yoed from as low as 110 pounds to 148 pounds or
higher. (They're 5-foot-9.) They were at one of their highest weights when
the 1993 Playboy photos were taken. Sometimes they arrived at a photo shoot
feeling fat, and Greg Gorman, their photographer, used lighting, special
angles and had them raise their arms and turn a certain way to create a
svelte waist and make their stomachs, thighs, hips and bums look smaller.
"We should have been modeling for Lane Bryant, but they turned us a certain
direction and we'd looked thin as the other models," Sia says.

Adds Shane, "The way they do the lighting is magic. It's unfair that women
don't know that."

They say they finally realized they had to get help with their eating
disorder when Sia overdosed on laxatives in 1996 and had to be rushed to
the emergency room. That was the beginning of a long recovery process that
has included therapy and countless group meetings within support groups
such as Overeaters Anonymous.

They say they suffer numerous medical consequences from their disorders.
They have compromised immune systems, and the eating disorders and
excessive exercise have taken a toll on their spinal cords, bones and teeth.
Shane, who is married to actor Ken Wahl (Wiseguy), would love to have a
baby but has had several miscarriages, which she also blames on problems
from the disorders.

They now weigh between 124 and 130 pounds and follow a healthy vegetarian
regiment. They exercise for two hours a day but would like to get that down
to a more reasonable 45 minutes a day.

They've had countless offers to do movies, videos and TV series, but
they've turned them down. "They don't want us because of our talent,
because we sure the heck can't act," says Sia. They have several projects
in the works, including a health-and-fitness calendar.

Their modeling career has left them financially independent, so they don't
have to work, Shane says. She lives with her husband in a house in Malibu.
Sia, who works as a horse trainer, lives in a condo nearby. Profits from
their book are going to charity, they say. "We made good enough money, so
we don't have to work," Sia says. "We're low-maintenance."

Instead, for now, they're on a mission to reach out to other women who
suffer from eating disorders.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful or thin, but it's when
that goal becomes an addiction that it's a problem," says Shane. "Beauty
should be a product of healthy living."

The book can be purchased online or by calling 800-345-0096.


'Brother' walkout? Let 'em walk, I say Walk out. We beg you. Upset by the producers' shameless attempts to manipulate them into conflict, the six remaining Big Brother inmates are threatening a premature group exit tonight, leaving the network with nothing but dead air. The six Brothers are, of course, misguided in their belief that this act of defiance should it occur would be the door slam heard round the world. (They're so deluded about their importance and appeal, it's almost sweet.) But walking out would be a fitting close for one of the sorriest chapters in TV history. -- Robert Bianco, http://www.usatoday.com/life/enter/tv/let010.htm

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