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Scarlett Pomers

A story of struggle and survival

At just 18 years old, Scarlett Pomers has already done some amazing things! As an accomplished actress, you may have seen her on Star Trek: Voyager or playing Reba McEntire's daughter Kyra on the sitcom REBA. Now a budding musician, you can see her band playing in some of Hollywood's hottest spots! What you might not know about her is that she suffered from an eating disorder and now works to raise money for others in the same situation. Listen as she shares her story of struggle and survival and how she gives hope to others who live with eating disorders still.

Age: 18
Home Town: Orange County, CA

When did you first realize you had an eating disorder?

It was something that crept up on me after losing a few extra pounds.

Was it something you tried to hide in the beginning?

Definitely. By the summer of 2005, I was pretending I was eating in my room while I was doing homework, pretending I was on my computer, or telling my family I had already eaten.

How did you go about getting help? What was that experience like?

I had to tell my mom because I was so scared. I didn't want to die, but I was terrified of gaining weight at the same time.

Scarlett speaks about eating disorders
Scarlett speaks about eating disorders, body image and peer pressure at a Girl Scout meeting in Oklahoma City. (Photo by SPE Inc)

How has your struggle with anorexia shaped who you are today?

It taught me that I could allow myself to make mistakes and learn from them. Many eating-disordered patients are perfectionists, setting impossible standards for themselves. When they can't live up to these superhuman goals, they believe they are complete failures. I now realize that I have the right to be proud of the things I accomplish and if I can't be perfect at everything, that doesn't make me a failure. It makes me human.

What are you doing now to help others who are going through the same experiences?

When I was doing in-patient treatment, I wanted to tell others who were suffering from an eating disorder not to be ashamed to ask for help. After I was discharged in December of 2005, I began doing every interview, TV talk-show, and radio program I could to get the word out that this is not a glamorous "Hollywood" fad, but a deadly mental illness that thrives on secrecy and shame. Sufferers and their families deserve treatment and support, not blame or contempt.

Tell us about your charity, Arch-Angels.

I started the organization because I witnessed too many girls and their parents begging to be allowed to continue with in-patient treatment, but their insurance would not cover them. I met several families who had gone bankrupt or lost their homes trying to save their child. I was compelled to find some way to help.

I speak to parents and young people about my experience in the hope that they will educate themselves and be able to recognize the early signs of an eating disorder before it completely controls their loved one. Once Anorexia or Bulimia is firmly entrenched in the mind, it is a nightmare for the entire family.

Arch-Angels raises money to bring awareness to sufferers and their families. These are real illnesses and the sooner people get help, the better the chance they have for a full recovery. Eating disorders kill more people than any other psychological illness in the world. The misconceptions and secrecy help these diseases thrive and take hold of the mind with an iron grip.

By raising funds through Arch-Angels, we hope to assist those who cannot afford treatment. We are currently talking with many treatment programs throughout the U.S. to see who would use our contributions to directly help patients with recovery. We do not want to see these funds spent on administrative costs and office expenses. Let the bigwig CPAs and administrators worry about that.

Our mission is to directly help people stay in treatment with reputable programs long enough to kill the enemy because that's just what eating disorders are: the enemy. A murderer of the mind and body. I try to advise families to be angry at the illness, not the patient, even when it seems like a demon has replaced the mind of the child they've known and loved for years.

No matter how terribly the family and friends are suffering, I hope they remember that the patient did not choose to live with a voice in their head, screaming disgusting names and criticism at them 24 hours a day.

Right now, what is the most important thing you do to stay healthy?

I continue to meet regularly with my wonderful therapist and plan to do so for as long as I want. But, the number one thing I do for myself is talk to my mom everyday.

She's the one who went through the entire journey with me and has grown with me in my recovery. She listens with as much patience as she can and supports me in whatever I want to do, without expecting me to be a clone of what she wanted to be at my age.

Everyone needs someone who loves them unconditionally, especially during the growing up years as they try to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their future.

You've been in so many movies and television shows! Which ones have given you the best memories?

As far as movies, my favorite would have to be a Disney Channel film called "A Ring of Endless Light," where I played Mishca Barton's little sister. We shot for six weeks in Australia and saw what a beautiful country it is and I fell in love with the amazing people. I also learned to surf there. It was an experience I'll never forget.

You have a band, have written and performed your own songs, and are currently creating your first solo album. Can you tell us about how your life experiences influence your music?

Every lyric I write has to do with something in my life. Many of my songs started out as poems and then became the lyrics to my songs. "This Tattoo" was a poem I wrote about how certain people who pass through your life can leave a mark on your heart or mind forever.

I brought the poem to a song-writing session with a team called “The Wizardz.” They loved it and we set it to music they had written. I was about 14 at the time and that's how I began learning to write songs for myself, instead of just singing music written by others.

I love songwriting sessions and I've been writing poetry and stories in my journal since I was 7 years old, so I have lots of material that I've worked in to many of my other songs. I continue to write everyday.

Do you have any advice for girls who are interested in acting or music?

Take classes, study everything you can. There's an amazing amount of information at the library, and even more on the internet. If you're fortunate enough to have a school with a drama department and/or music department, sign up for everything you are interested in and listen and participate. I learn more by doing than just listening to a lecture. Go to local plays and then audition for them. It doesn't matter if you get the role, you will learn something from every audition experience and your confidence will grow the more you do it.

carlett performs on stage to benefit the National Eating Disorders Association.
Scarlett performs on stage to benefit the National Eating Disorders Association. (Photo by SPE, Inc)

For musicians, including vocalists, regular practice is extremely important. There are places you can find on the internet that will teach you how to play an instrument for free. Another way to improve is to go to live shows. See why some local bands build an audience and others can only get their family or friends to show up.

Great songs, great musicians, and a great vocalist are the minimum you need to be successful. If you're putting on a great show, the audience won't even notice if a guitar string breaks or someone hits a sour note during a performance.

If you don't the have funds to attend live local shows and major concerts, rent concert DVDs or check your library to see what DVDS they have. Then, study what makes performer a great ENTERTAINER.

When I was 16 years old, my band and I played the hottest clubs in Hollywood. We covered the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard. Every time we played a new club, I was offered a residency there, meaning the manager or talent booker thought the show was so good, they wanted us to play every week for a certain period of time. That was pretty flattering for a 16 year-old girl, considering these venues included the world-famous Whiskey A Go-Go, The Roxy Theatre, The Knitting Factory, and The Key Club, just to name a few.

I believe the reason for this was not that my songs are the greatest ever written or that my voice is the greatest ever heard, even though people bought my CDs and cheered during and after the show. The reason is because we gave them the whole package. We rehearsed and worked hard and people liked the music very much, but I have always performed with the philosophy that an audience paid their hard earned money to be entertained. If they just wanted to hear music they could buy a CD and listen in their car or home as many times as they wanted.

When they pay to see one of my shows, it's my job to make it an evening they remember and want to see again. So I work an audience with all the fire and passion I have for my music.

I won't tell you all the little extra things that make my live performances different than other Rocker Chicks. You'll have to come and see for yourself. My best advice to anyone that wants to perform is do your homework. Study the successful people you like to watch and listen to. Then, make a list of the things that make them so unique. Now think about what's unique about you or your band and incorporate it into your show.

When it's your time to go on, OWN THAT STAGE! Connect with your audience and they'll want to see you again. You'll sell more CDS, too, and club owners will invite you back because they'll know you can bring in an audience. That's the difference between those who play music and those who can make a career out of it.

Good luck in all of your dreams and go for them 100%. People may tell you, you can't make a success out of something you love to do, but that’s only true if YOU believe them.

Content last reviewed July 01, 2007
Page last updated July 01, 2007

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.