Tracey Gold was well known to television audiences in the 80s as the wholesome teenage sister on the long-running series Growing Pains. She co-starred for seven years alongside Kirk Cameron as brainy sister Carol Seaver in a picture-perfect American family. A working actress since the age of 4, she was a pretty and professional young star with a limitless future. But behind the smiles Tracey was fighting the battle of her life.
Ten years have passed since photos of the shockingly thin Tracey faced us from the cover of one of People's bestselling issues ever. "I always knew there'd come a day in the future, when I was far away from the media glare, when I'd have the proper time and perspective to process all I went through. Now there are many trained experts in the field of anorexia and eating disorders; and there are a lot of girls who struggle with it. I have both: the knowledge and the experience. I want this book to be something girls can turn to for help; something they can pick up and hold, a source of comfort and encouragement. It is for every sister, daughter, or friend whose life has been touched by anorexia nervosa. My celebrity has provided me a forum from which I can help others."
Actress Gold, now 33 and a happily married mother of two, is best known for her role as brainy teenager Carol Seaver in the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains. But thanks to the tabloids and other popular press (including People, which featured Gold on its cover 10 years ago), she's almost equally well known for her battles with anorexia, which reached a crisis as the show ended its seven-year run in 1992. Gold reflects on why she became anorexic and how she overcame the illness. Her friendly tone will resonate with teen girls (although they probably didn't grow up watching Growing Pains and may not even know who Gold is). Gold's producers regularly told her to lose weight, and when she was unable to comply, wrote "fat jokes" into the script. Gold is more guarded when discussing the specific details of her recovery (e.g., while she says psychotherapy played an important role, she reveals little of what went on in the sessions and what she learned). And fat jokes aside, she gushes with praise for almost every actor, producer and director she has worked with. Gold realizes she was privileged to be able to afford the best care and that others might not be as lucky. The book's afterword is a call for activism and includes sections of a proposed federal law, which, if passed, could promote greater awareness of eating disorders and how to treat them as can this affecting book. B&w photos throughout.