Brittany Murphy Brittany Murphy Brittany Murphy Brittany Murphy Why

Brittany-Murphy-Denies-Rumors-About-Eating-Disorder-2BRITTANY MURPHY: As we reported yesterday and everyone in the entire world has since reported 5,000 more times, Brittany Murphy died yesterday at the age of 32 from Cardiac Arrest. As reports slowly trickle in, we’re wondering if perhaps this tragedy might open up an opportunity for people to talk about how culture’s obsession with thinness is actually killing people. (If you haven’t read it already, Appetites by Caroline Knapp should be required reading for all human beings.)

Also, is it weird that we’re still talking about it? Well, in addition to being genuine fans of Brittany’s and thinking she was sexy, we have a theory! Aside from Aaliyah’s death in 2001 at the age of 22 (plane crash), this is the first American female celeb approximately our age (give or take a few years) to suddenly pass away, and unlike Aaliyah, Murphy wasn’t the victim of a tragic accident, or necessarily even a “victim” in the strictest definition of the word. Although technically it seems awfully arbitrary that culture has chosen actors & actresses to serve as common reference points and symbolic entities worthy of our endless fascination & subsequent projection, it is what it is. Brittany was in so many of the movies and TV shows that defined our pop cultural generation, from Blossom to Sister Sister to Clueless to Girl Interrupted to 8 Mile. Many of us on Team Autostraddle grew up right alongside her (if only a few years behind).

murphy139So perhaps we feel whatever ailed her, which the autopsy will reveal, is something that perhaps ailed us too, or ailed our friends; growing up in approximately the same universe. Of course her death isn’t “more tragic” than that of the thousands of women each year who die of anorexia. But just as Heath Ledger raised interesting questions about prescription drug control and Natasha Richardson made us all think twice about saying “I’m fine” after violently whacking our heads against something, Murphy may prove to be our first example of the worst case scenario proclamations so freely flung about when gossiping about other “troubled” stars such as Britney Spears & Lindsay Lohan. The sickest part? Perez Hilton himself made such a declaration about Brittany Murphy a few weeks back. Maybe Michael Lohan will think twice next time before opening his trap.

Though a cause of death has yet to be determined, it’s interesting that drugs is the first suspected culprit.  Perhaps most people aren’t aware that eating disorders in and of themselves can cause heart failure — and that the years of speculation about an eating disorder often affirms, rather than detracts, from the anoretic’s pursuit — being under suspicion wouldn’t have ever made her eat.

From People Magazine: “A lot of [Murphy’s] problems were due to poor self image. She wore extraordinary amounts of makeup, tons of fake eyelashes, got her teeth capped, dyed her hair blonde, lost weight – she wanted to be a beauty. She didn’t want to be the fat girl from Clueless. She didn’t eat a lot. She would drink copious amounts of coffee.”

Amy Heckerling: “She seemed to go through a change on Clueless,” Heckerling told an entertainment blog Sunday. “Maybe she felt like she was not the, like, skinny, pretty girl, you know? And then the next few movies she was, you know, thinner, blonde … going out with Eminem and Ashton Kutcher.”

Brittany’s Last Interview: “I am a bit thinner now than what I would like to be,” Murphy, 32, admitted to Fox News‘ Pop Tarts at an event just 2 ½ weeks before her untimely death Sunday.

Eating Disorder Statistics: 20% of people suffering from anorexia will prematurely die from complications related to their eating disorder, including suicide and heart problems. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. A study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.


TMZ: At 10:30 AM, TMZ has learned the L.A. County Coroner is currently conducting an autopsy on Brittany Murphy, despite the wishes of her husband Simon Monjack.

Brittany Murphy was very ill in the hours before she went into cardiac arrest and died, sources tell TMZ: “We’re told Murphy was taking prescription meds for flu-like symptoms she had been experiencing for several days. We’re told Murphy began vomiting early Sunday morning and told family members she was feeling very ill.”

NY Daily News: “He said an autopsy was underway Monday but that it would take four to eight weeks for toxicology results to come back. A final cause of death is pending the tests.

OhNoTheyDidnt: Celebrities react to the death of Brittany Murphy on Twitter.

Radar Online: In a bizarre twist, Brittany Murphy’s home that she died in was once owned by Britney Spears. Weirder yet, the fact that Britney spears spells her name “Britney” instead of “Brittany” has made us mis-type Brittany Murphy’s name like ten times in the last 24 hours without even thinking.

Old News:

One India October 29, 2009: “Actress Brittany Murphy reportedly raised alarm recently by shouting she heard gunfire outside her Hollywood house … Cops suggested that the noise must have come from a noisy generator. Murphy’s representative maintained silence over the incident.”

Entertainment Wise Feb 2008: “She’s extremely difficult. When she gets to the set, it comes to a grinding halt. She’s so hot and cold, you never know. Among her alleged list of requirements includes diagonally cut peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts removed.”

Introspection & Tribute:

Jezebel’s “Girl, Interrupted”: “It’s something we’ve watched in progress throughout this entire decade: young women who are held up as the next big thing (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears) and then brushed aside or openly mocked after they no longer fit an expected mold. It is both a story of self-destruction and mass-destruction, the business of creating and destroying a star; sometimes it’s caused by internal forces, and sometimes it’s fed by the rest of the world.”

SalonBrittany Murphy’s sad, sudden end: “But whether she was playing a penguin or a beauty contestant, Brittany Murphy, who died Sunday morning at the cruelly young age of 32, took every role she played and made her characters loveable and flawed and startlingly, daringly human … Few actresses of her generation or any other possessed such unselfconscious tenderness… Imagine how, had she been given the chance, she could have grown into a charismatic character actress with a durable career, a slightly daffier Susan Sarandon. Instead, she’ll be remembered as the ebullient, forever young woman with a knack for playing ladies who didn’t fully fit in this cold world, but who loved it wholeheartedly, unguardedly regardless.”

Gawker TV: A Look Back at Brittany Murphy’s Best Roles, including this one from Boy Meets World:

GAGA: Los Angeles Gaga fans may be in for a surprise –“Although Gaga’s rep won’t confirm the news, a source reveals that Beyoncé and Kanye West will be joining the singer onstage for a song or two.” (@eonline) EXCUSE US WHILE WE RUN AND DIE OF JEALOUSY

BEST OF: You want year-end lists? We’ve got year-end lists. Well, firstly we’ve got our own 10 Best and 10 Worst Gay Happenings of 2009. Andrea’s got All The Gay Things That Happened in 2009, and Dorothy Surrenders got a little roundtable going with her AE cohorts on Gay Crushes of the Decade. Vulture has Your Best Performances of 2009 From Jay-Z to Jon Stewart. Largehearted Boy has a complete list of every list about the best books of the decade and the best books of 2009.. AfterEllen has its 2009 Visibility Awards. i09 presents The Most Important Events Of 2000-2009, Comic Style. More TK.

AVATAR: “When will white people stop making movies like Avatar?” – “This is a classic scenario you’ve seen in non-scifi epics from Dances With Wolves to The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member … If we think of Avatar and its ilk as white fantasies about race, what kinds of patterns do we see emerging in these fantasies?” (@io9) At fourfour, Rich weighs in on his feelings about Avatar and the race issues. (@fourfour)

RIHANNA: Rihanna & Jay-Z heated up Rockefeller Center. The main reason I am drawing your attention to this story is because even though it might be fur (?) that she’s wearing, this picture makes us want to cuddle with Rihanna real bad 4ever and ever.


ASK RO: Via Oh No They Didn’t:


MERRY CHRISTMAS: So this is on somebody’s lawn: Santa is shown dead on the ground with X’s over his eyes. Standing over Santa and staring down the barrel of his shotgun is Jesus. And the dead, limp body of Rudolph is strewn over the back of a pickup truck. According to Ron Lake, who set this all up, “Christmas isn’t about Santa; it’s about Jesus,” he said. “It’s an expression of my repressed creativity.” (@komonews)

TEGAN & SARA: Tegan & Sara interview at Alert the Press and The Whole Storey: an interview with Emy Story, T&S’s art director! (@alert the press) (@curve)

LOHAN: OMG LINDSAY WAS OUT PARTYING AGAIN and Michael Lohan is on twitter now. (@ohnotheydidn’t)

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3227 articles for us.


  1. i’ve been thinking ED since i read this, too. i think it’s interesting that there’s been so little speculation/mention of this in the press. maybe i haven’t read enough reports about her death, but it seems like people are avoiding saying it, as though it’s more crass than speculating about drug addiction or something.

    • It’s the first thing one of my best friends and I thought of yesterday, but that’s because several years back we almost lost her to anorexia. It was scary and this whole thing just makes my heart hurt.

      • I’ve had my own experiences but also have had a strange knack for having very close friends or dated a ton of people with EDs — boys and girls actually. So I feel like I tend to recognize it pretty quickly in people. It’s sad because I don’t think our culture really deals with it appropriately, they sort of attack actresses like it’s just a secret they need to track down, like homosexuality or a drug habit, when it’s so much more complicated than that. And also much easier to hide, as women are encouraged to diet and rarely questioned for not eating.

        In several interviews she would insist she was the same size she’d been in Clueless but had just lost weight in her face. Today reading this quote for the 6th time it occurred to me that wasn’t necessarily a blatant lie, but rather a statement deeply rooted in body dysmorphic disorder.

    • I really hope if she does end up having been killed by her ED, it actually comes out, so maybe, just maybe, girls thinking about this stuff will go “Oh my, this really CAN kill you”. Instead of the endless parade of super thin girls lying and saying they love to eat ice cream, giving teenagers complexes.

      • Exactly. They need to really see what can happen AND be given a chance to talk about it. Not just be talked AT about ED’s…

  2. Thank you, AS! Great coverage and I’m already seeing that this is, in fact, opening up a dialogue about EDs and how harmful they are/can be.

  3. I am sooo very sorry to hear this — having trouble, in fact typing my message. There is a mixture of messages here: one is the public, two are the fans, and three is the media. I have ALWAYS thought of Brittany Murphy as simply a treasure to behold. Sharp as a tack, humorous, a very nice person, and certainly not one to deserve such an end. I am very saddened by this news and wish the family and friends of Brittany Murphy all the best … and hope Brittany Murphy has finally found the true happiness she was unable to find here.

  4. Thanks for this post. Talking about eating disorders is so incredibly important. My younger sister learned last week that she has actually made herself infertile through the abuse her body has gone through. She’s seventeen years old and it breaks my heart. We need to talk about this and get people, especially younger people, informed.

  5. awww rihanna looks so cute n that pic

    after reading this about brittany murphy i am so sad, but i hope the mainstream media doesn’t exploit her situation in a negative way the way they did m.j

  6. So this is only vaguely related to this post but I literally just realised that this Avatar movie does not equal Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’m even more confused than I was by the blue people. Why is the world so confusing? Can we just all be happy and eat cookies? I think we all need to eat more cookies.

    • I actually thought that James Cameron was debuting a new line of like actual avatars? You know, like the little icons people use on the internet? I was like, why is everyone freaking out about this movie guy making some graphics? Then I was like OH IT’S A MOVIE.

  7. I’m no theologist, but I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t spread his message by using a double barrel.ummmmmm, that’s nuts.

  8. “it seems awfully arbitrary that culture has chosen actors & actresses to serve as common reference points and symbolic entities worthy of our endless fascination & subsequent projection, it is what it is.”

    What “It” is, is a business of which you are a prime contributor. It’s NOT ARBITRARY WHEN Virtually EVERY lesbian oriented and non lesbian oriented media website has reported on Murphy’s death. This is why I did not report the death on my media website.
    You “guys” make a living hyping celebrities incessantly only to shrug off your involvement by claiming some ethereal omnipresent force is forcing “society” to focus on celebrities. Give me a break and take responsibility.

    • Urban Sapphic, that was really unnecessary. If you had read the earlier post about Brittany Murphy, the team wrote,

      “We generally don’t dedicate entire posts to the death of an actress or actor, because it’s problematic to us that Americans feel more emotionally affected by the death of an actor/actress they only knew via movie roles and subsequent interviews and likely never met in real life than they are by say, world hunger, or gay genocide in Uganda.”

      They admitted that they don’t indulge in the deaths of celebrities. They just happen to respect and admire Brittany Murphy. You don’t need to make blunt accusations.

    • Additionally, it’s not that AS is focusing on some minuscule part of a celebrity’s life; they’re drawing attention to the larger issues that we face.

  9. I know this site is majority Caucasian writers/readers, but I have to agree with that statement about Avatar. The white man has ALWAYS painted him self as the savior, hell he put Jesus in his image even though he COULD NOT have been white. I wonder what the writers ethnicity is because if he wasn’t white I need to ask what took him so long in realizing this sad phenomenon?

    • By “this site” do you mean i09 or autostraddle? When you refer to the writer’s ethnicity do you mean James Cameron or the writer of the article on i09? The i09 writer is a white lesbian who’s actually written a book about Race & Class in America … I got the impression from reading the article that this is something she’s always noticed but felt it was relevant to bring up now as everyone is celebrating how great Avatar is.

      She says at the end: Whites need to stop remaking the white guilt story, which is a sneaky way of turning every story about people of color into a story about being white. Speaking as a white person, I don’t need to hear more about my own racial experience.

      The debate in the comments over at i09 is pretty interesting.

      • I meant this site and the author of that article. She is white? Great. That makes this article even better!

  10. “This is a classic scenario you’ve seen in non-scifi epics from Dances With Wolves to The Last Samurai, where a white guy manages to get himself accepted into a closed society of people of color and eventually becomes its most awesome member”

    this is the most hilarious way i’ve seen this put.

    that author makes a lot of good points…
    “Whites need to stop remaking the white guilt story, which is a sneaky way of turning every story about people of color into a story about being white. Speaking as a white person, I don’t need to hear more about my own racial experience. I’d like to watch some movies about people of color (ahem, aliens), from the perspective of that group, without injecting a random white (erm, human) character to explain everything to me.”

    NOW I ACTUALLY WANT TO SEE AVATAR FINALLY i guess i should anyway.

  11. whatttttt im reading your comments and im soo confused lol so im going to read the entire post all over and then the comments lol

  12. urban sapphic i just went on your site and its mostly about celebs…what the hell are you talking about #NEXT

    i actually appreciated this post about brittnay murphy she was such an amazing actress and she really owned each roled played, she wasn’t just some regular actress

    Avatar is becoming a must see for me, i’m honestly sick of seeing “the white hero” “the white jesus” the “white santa claus” from now on i want all heroes, and saviors to be “green”

    I do not want them to be black,white or any other color I want them to be green…then no one could say anything about it being racist and no dumb ass director could really make his hero out to be white or black…i bet you it would save a lot of drama, debates, and headaches for everyone

    Anyway, does anyone on here have a tumblr im so addicted to it lol follow me

    • it’s like going green! just different but also progressive!? i think riese has an auto tumblr. and i have a long lost one somewheres!

Comments are closed.