The Hairspray star, who struggled with an eating disorder, once weighed 85 lbs.

By Aaron Parsley
Updated September 26, 2007 04:10 PM
John Smock/AP

Brittany Snow’s descent into the dark world of eating disorders began when she landed the role of Susan Lemay on TV’s Guiding Light, the actress, now 21, tells

“I remember looking around at all these women who were on the soap opera who were working out and dieting,” Snow says.

Taking their cue, a 12-year-old Snow tried her first diet, called Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type. “I took it to the extreme,” the Hairspray star admits, which included a two-month stint when she “lived on pineapple.”

After losing 10 lbs. on the diet, Snow says she heard compliments and felt accepted by those around her. Soon it was a feeling she couldn’t get enough of.

“It kind of progressed into this thing where I needed to always be dieting and losing weight and more weight,” she says in the site’s interview series Half of Us, which addresses mental health issues and ways to get help. “It became my life and I didn’t have any friends and this was definitely my best friend and I held on to it really tight.”

At 15, Snow was stepping onto the scale 10 to 15 times a day and weighed only 85 lbs.

“I knew that was a really low number and I knew that my hair was falling out and I had really weird skin. My face looked really weird and I was getting this fuzz on my face and I was always cold – always to the point of uncontrollably shaking,” she says. ” But “I was more scared that 85 lbs. wasn’t good enough. I wanted to be lower.”

Rock bottom came when Snow began cutting herself. “I would look at the scars and what I had done to myself and that would convince me not to eat,” she says. “I also was crying for attention and I also really wanted someone to see my scars and help me and give me a hug.”

By 19, Snow was in rehab and things took a turn for the better. She stopped cutting and got help for her depression. “But the eating stuff was still really hard to deal with,” she says. “It’s still a struggle.”

Her advice to girls who are going though a similar situation is to take baby steps. “It’s very important to talk to anybody. Maybe the first step is just to talk to a friend about it,” she says. “Probably they’ll relate in some way.”

Who’s turning 40? Which celebs are high school dropouts? What’s hot and definitely not in fall fashion? Check out PEOPLE’s new digital magazine now!