America was introduced to Lacey Schwimmer on “Dancing With the Stars” as Lance Bass' partner in 2008. Lacey has been on the show three seasons, but she has been hiding a deep personal secret – her battle with anorexia. Now, Lacey is coming forward in the hopes of helping others.
“I was really, really scary thin,” Lacey told Access Hollywood's Maria Menounos. “And I saw a picture of myself from some dance competition…”
“One of these that was in the magazine?” Maria asked, referring to the December 28 issue of InTouch, which hits newsstands on Friday, and which features the pictures of Lacey during her battle.
“Yeah, actually it's the funny one of me joking around with my friend,” Lacey said, referring to a picture of herself in pajamas. “My waist is insanely thin; my hair was starting to fall out; it was getting thin. My skin looked gray and that's when… I was like, 'Alright, this isn't cool.' I saw other girls that were healthy and happy at my age and I was not like that whatsoever.”
Lacey's eating disorder began at 13 while training for 10 hours a day as a dancer.
Her parents were also her coaches — very strict coaches, she said — and Lacey was home schooled to accommodate her rigorous schedule.
“Tell me what you would eat in a typical day,” Maria asked.
“I ate a packet of turkey, which was about six slices of turkey — give or take,” Lacey said.
Lacey would also skip meals.
“I skipped breakfast and I would eat at around like 2, 3 o'clock and then I would have a candy bar for dinner and just drink orange juice throughout the day,” she said.
“And that's it?” Maria asked.
“Yeah, pretty much. Energy drinks, you know, anything to keep my body going without the calories,” Lacey said.
Lacey then discovered diet pills at age 18.
“I saw that Britney Spears was using it and I wanted her body so I was like, 'OK, this is gonna work,” she said.
It did, shocking 15 pounds off her 5' 3” frame.
Still, she thought she had a handle on her disease at 19 when she joined “Dancing With the Stars.”
Then, fellow professional dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy was quoted as telling Lacey and Cheryl Burke, “The camera adds 10 pounds. You have to do something about this.”
“I read those comments and I didn't know whether to believe them or not to believe them,” Lacey told Maria. “I approached him. I was like, 'What is this about?' and he goes. 'They misquoted me.'”
“Did you believe him?” Maria asked.
“No, you know, but it's OK,” Lacey said.
Lacey then relapsed into past behavior, starving herself and abusing diet pills once again.
“I started getting all these like, 'Oh Lacey, you look so great let's do a bikini shoot!' And I was like, 'That's not a good thing,'” she said. “I felt guilty in a way.”
But these days, things are different.
“What do you see now when you look in the mirror?” Maria asked.
“I am comfortable in my own skin finally,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes.
“Women are so self-conscious already and then when people just poke at you and [are just] like, 'You're big'… or 'You're too big to be on TV.' You know, it kills you inside,” she said.