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"World's thinnest woman" not happy about being a role model

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Valeria Levitin has been called the "world's thinnest woman."

Her frame is so thin that she looks like a walking skeleton--extreme anorexia has left her devastatingly malnourished, with protruding bones and disturbing-looking facial features.

A dangerous role model

Yet the 37-year-old who was once a healthy-looking, fuller-figured woman, wants the graphic images of her circulating around the Internet to be posted carefully. She's afraid it's going to send a positive message about anorexia and that it may even encourage girls already prone to the disease to see her as a role model.

"I am not going to teach them how to die. It is not a game, it is not a joke, it is your life," Levitin said.

She's now campaigning against the disease, saying that she's battled anorexia for almost 20 years, and that her eating disorder "robbed" her of life. She's been single for 10 years and says she can't participate in the normal activities of a relationship, like going to restaurants or parties.

Anorexia and competition

A spokesperson for UK eating disorder charity, Beat, said that young women with eating disorders may actually look up to Levitin for inspiration, and that the images of her may trigger competition among anorexics. Levitin consistently receives fan mail from girls asking her to teach them how to be thin.

"You can’t be shocked out of it, you can only be further drawn into it by trying to compete with anyone you think is thinner than you, better at it than you."

One young woman who wrote to Beat said that these types of images don't surprise anorexics anymore.

"Shock is not a cure, but what it does do is make me feel as if I am 'not really anorexic.'"

Levitin discusses the struggle of having a disease that makes people not want to be around her. She hopes that she can be an example of what not to do.

"I want young people to live happy, healthy and meaningful lives," she said.

Source: Huffington Post