Feb. 4, 1983: Musician Karen Carpenter dies at 32 from health complications related to anorexia
After being called chubby as a teenager, Karen Carpenter began dieting. When she slimmed down from 145 to 120 lbs., her friends and family praised her weight loss. It was only after her weight continued to plummet, dropping to a skeletal 90 lbs. in the mid-1970s, that they realized her health was in jeopardy.
The lead singer of The Carpenters, the Grammy-winning band she’d formed with her brother, died on this day, Feb. 4, in 1983, of heart failure related to her years-long struggle with anorexia. She was 32.
Carpenter’s death raised awareness of the dangers of eating disorders, which had until then been little publicized or understood. For a generation of women who saw Twiggy as an icon of the ideal body shape, it also proved — as TIME concluded in 1989, when summing up the moral of a docudrama about Carpenter’s life — that it was, in fact, possible to be too thin.
Carpenter was the first celebrity casualty of an eating disorder, according to Randy Schmidt, the author of Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter (4.5 stars out of 5; 239 reviews). After her death, however, other public figures shared their own struggles with anorexia and bulimia, most notably Princess Diana. More
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Follow these topics: Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Bulimia, Nutrition: Eating Disorders: Orthorexia Nervosa