Cherry Boone O'Neill
- Category : 1954-births
- Type : MS
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Individualism 1
American child of a noted family, she was the first born daughter of singer Pat Boone. She was also the author of an autobiography, "Starving For Attention," which tells of her ten-year battle with bulimia-anorexia, when she dropped to an alarming 82 lbs. During her anorexic phase, she starved herself and exercised four hours a day, then as a bulimic, she gorged herself with food and then, through laxatives and induced vomiting, purged her body of the food. In the book, she claims that the condition is suffered by 10 million young women. Society's obsession with thinness must share some of the blame.
In 1984 she came out with a second book, "Dear Cherry," a collection of letters from women who understood and shared her experience.
After an advantaged upbringing, she succumbed to the pressure of having to live up to a public image. She stopped eating and was finally hospitalized for anemia 3/21/1977. From there, she went into rehab. Turning her private hell into public service, Cherry began lecturing and reaching out to others who suffered from eating disorders. She settled into a suburban area northeast of Seattle where she lives with her husband, Dan, an author and head of Mercy Corps, a group that works with the homeless and hungry. They have two kids, Brittany and Brendan.
Cherry writes that her obsession began at 13 when her weight ballooned to 140 lbs. Teased by her school mates, she vowed to never be fat again, turning her humiliation into a self-hatred of her body. Externally, she seemed a normal teen with good grades, dates and family activities, but she was actually eating one meal a day, watching every calorie and exercising fanatically. It was not until she had dropped to 92 lbs that her parents discovered her secret. They reasoned, pleaded, punished and sent her to medical help, but could not put a dent into the girl. She fit the typical profile, a perfectionist with a poor self-image, constantly trying to please others and overwhelmed by life. Rather than releasing or expressing her feelings, she turned her anger inward.
When she and Dan married in 1975, she was still dependent on laxatives. It was Dan who finally persuaded her to get psychological counseling. By then she was a skeleton, with rotten teeth from vomiting stomach acids. Making an effort to cooperate and understand, she took some two years to feel comfortably on the road to survival.