The Simpsons actor Yeardley Smith discusses her 24-year bulimia battle

The Simpsons star Yeardley Smith, 57, opens up about decades-long battle with bulimia, revealing how desperate desire to be ‘perfect’ triggered 24-year eating disorder at age 14

  • The 57-year-old detailed her lengthy struggle with the eating disorder
  • During a recent appearance on Allison Interview podcast, the voice actor revealed she battled the disorder aged 14 to 39
  • The Emmy-winner admitted: ‘The thing that I have struggled with all my life … is the pursuit of perfection’
  • Smith decided to make a change before her 40th birthday in 2005
  • The voice actor has famously voiced Lisa Simpson since 1987 

One of The Simpsons’ best known voice actors has opened up about her 24-year battle with bulimia – revealing how she finally overcame her eating disorder at the age of 40 after struggling with it for more than two decades. 

Yeardley Smith, now 57, is best known for voicing precocious youngster Lisa Simpson in the long-running cartoon series – however she has now leant her voice to a much more serious issue, speaking out about her personal eating disorder issues that plagued her life from her teen years. 

The Simpsons actor got candid about her struggles in a new interview on the Allison Interviews podcast in which she reflected on the ways in which she ‘continues to be a work in progress’. 

Recalling her long-running body image insecurities, Yeardley stated: ‘The thing that I have struggled with all my life – it is certainly better now, but there will be times in my life when I’m under a lot of stress when it will grab my by the throat again – and that is the pursuit of perfection. 

Overcome: The Simpsons star Yeardley Smith has detailed her lengthy battle with bulimia in a new interview

Inner turmoil: The 57-year-old revealed she suffered from the eating disorder for 24 years – pictured in 1992

‘The pursuit of perfection is a zero-sum game because you will never achieve it, and therefore you will never feel satisfied with your pursuit or what you actually achieve. [It’s like] the expression, “Perfection is the enemy of good”.’ 

The beloved voice actor, who has been voiced Lisa since 1987, continued: ‘For you to stay stuck trying to make it into something that you perceive as perfect is only going to keep you where you are and you won’t be allowed to go forward and evolve and continue to grow and learn. 

‘It will foster a misery that is unlike anything else.’ 

Opening up about her specific battle with bulimia, the Emmy-winner added: ‘That is something that I struggle with and it really shows up in my body image. I had an eating disorder for 24 years, from the time I was 14 until I was 39. I’m 57 now… my particular predilection was bulimia.’

Smith revealed that she  was moved to change her ways around her 40th birthday as she took the steps to seek out treatment.

The Herman’s Head star explained: ‘I had been in therapy many years by then and I would just lie by omission at that point. I remember thinking, “I can’t turn 40 and still [be doing this].”

‘I sort of pulled up my socks and said, “All right, I need some actual help. I’ve been telling myself I can do this on my own forever, and obviously I can’t so I need some help.”‘

Smith added that it took another couple of years after entering the program before she got to a point where she had overcome her fear of food.

Now the Dharma & Greg star is able to enjoy food much more.

‘Now I feel like food is actually good,’ she explained, noting that there are still ‘a couple trigger foods’ that she stays away from. 

The Simpsons debuted as a half-hour prime time show on December 17, 1989, and has since produced 33 seasons and a feature-length animated film.

Happier: The star now enjoys food more though she has a few ‘trigger foods’ she tries to avoid

Still going strong: The Simpsons debuted as a half-hour prime time show on December 17, 1989, and has since produced 33 seasons

It originated as a series of shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987. 

Yeardley won the Emmy in 1992 for Outstanding Voiceover Performance for her role as Lisa Simpson. The Simpsons show and its cast have also won 34 Primetime Emmys over the past 30 years.

Elsewhere, Smith recently tied the knot to her Small Town D**** podcast co-host, who goes by Detective Dan.

The couple wed on June 11 and received a sweet shoutout from ‘The Simpsons’ on social media to mark their special day.  

Anyone looking for support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact: National Eating Disorder Helpline on (800) 931-2237. For urgent support, text ‘NEDA’ to 741741 (fees may apply).


Bulimia nervosa usually affects young women and arises in late adolescence. Only one in five bulimics are men.

It’s estimated that around four of every 100 women suffers from bulimia at some time in their lives

The disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating, followed by vomiting or taking laxatives to prevent weight gain.

It is typically hidden due to feelings of shame over binge eating.

Side effect include the erosion of teeth enamel from bringing up stomach acid, heart palpitations and weight fluctuations. Vomiting can cause the salivary glands in the cheeks to swell, leaving the face puffy.

Damage to the kidneys, fertility problems and epileptic fits are also associated side effects. 

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