BRITAIN’S Got Talent belly dancer Sophie Mei almost starved herself to death in pursuit of the perfect body after she was catapulted to stardom on TV, she revealed in an exclusive video chat with Graham Walker.
Today she bravely told her story to encourage others suffering from eating disorders to seek expert help, as she celebrated her new start by announcing she is pregnant.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our full chat with Sophie and her partner Chris Hale.
Sophie became a curvy role model three-years ago as millions of viewers saw top judge Simon Cowell vote her into the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, calling her ‘cute’ with ‘star quality’.
But as work started flooding in she became obsessed with trimming her famous figure and it re-ignited eating problems she first suffered when bullies called her fat at school.
Sophie began taking laxatives and made herself sick up to a dozen times a day as she struggled with bulimia nervosa.
She dropped from a size 12 to a zero and lost 4.5 stone. At one point the 5ft 8ins dance star was a life-threatening two stones under-weight.
Doctors warned her she was killing herself and feared she may never be able to have children.
But the South Yorkshire 23-year-old has overcome her problems and today revealed she is five-months pregnant. She hopes her story will inspire others to get help.
Her ribs can be seen sticking out in photos when she became a skinny shadow of her former self, which will shock fans of the TV series who remember her for her stunning looks and voluptuous figure.
Lost in a world of bulimia, she also gained weight - like many people with an eating disorder, who battle with control and sometimes depression.
“We all see perfect looking girls on television and in magazines and think that’s how we should be. But we are all different,” she told The Star.
“I had eating disorders when I was much younger, at school, when I was bullied for being fat.
“But I thought I’d got over all that until I had all the fame after my appearance on Britain’s Got Talent. It’s a great show and helped me with my belly dancing career.
“But all your insecurities are still there and in my case they were highlighted by the amount of attention you get. I became this curvy role model but I was still uncomfortable about my own body. It all sparked off the whole eating disorder problems. This time it came back with a vengeance.”
She hit an all-time low but agreed to expert help last Christmas to turn her life around. Now she hopes to inspire others to seek help.
“There will be people of all shapes and sizes reading this who will also be hiding an eating disorder and I hope my story will encourage them to get help, before it’s too late. If I can turn my life around, there’s hope for them.
“Belly dancing taught me to love my curves. Size is about being the most healthy shape for your body.
“I will keep dancing while I can and return to it once I have the baby, but my main focus is on media work, including presenting and writing.”
Sophie, of Pitsmoor, a freelance journalist and researcher, was crowned Student Human Rights Journalist of the Year at the Amnesty International Media Awards and now edits an online human rights magazine at veritamag.com.
Boyfriend Chris Hale, 24, of Wakefield, runs his own Just Breathe altitude training company based at Greens Health and Fitness centre in Napier Street, Sheffield.
He said: “What Sophie has gone through is character building. She’s got an incredible strength about her. It’s made her into a stronger, adaptable individual.
“If she can overcome that she can overcome anything. Now we’re really excited about the baby.”
* If you are suffering from an eating disorder contact your GP and speak to SYEDA (South Yorkshire Eating Disorder Association). Visit syeda.org.uk and call 0114 272 8855.