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5 Singers Who Are in Recovery from Eating Disorders
Even the most glamorous among us can experience self-doubt and self-hatred. These five singers dealt with eating disorders—and came out the other side.
I was performing concerts on an empty stomach… I was losing my voice from purging.-Demi Lovato
In 2010, Demi Lovato shocked her fans by quitting her tour with the Jonas Brothers to seek treatment for emotional and physical issues. The star of the Disney Channel show Sonny With a Chance revealed that comments made by childhood bullies about her weight tormented her all the way into adulthood. “I was performing concerts on an empty stomach,” she said. “I was losing my voice from purging.” After an intervention, Lovato checked into treatment. “A picture of my little sister on my little bulletin board was one of the main things that kept me going,” she said. Since then, she has worked to help others struggling with the similar issues by speaking out often and by filming a PSA for the Love Is Louder movement.
The former Pussycat Dolls singer quietly struggled with bulimia for eight years. “You get blisters on your hands…and I’d try to hide those,” she revealed. “I think the girls [in the band] could tell.” She eventually started losing her voice, and was found passed out more than once. “It is such a horrible paralyzing disease and it was such a dark time for me,” she said. Finally, she realized she needed help: “I thought, ‘I’m going to lose everything I love if I don’t love myself.’ It’s sad to see how I wasted my life…I’m never letting that happen again.”
I felt like part of my job was to be as skinny as possible, and to make that happen, I had been abusing my body.-Kesha
Wild girl Kesha always seemed to be having such a fun time—until she checked into rehab in January 2014. Most people assumed she had just been partying too hard, but she was actually there for an eating disorder. “I felt like part of my job was to be as skinny as possible, and to make that happen, I had been abusing my body,” she wrote in an op-ed for Elle UK. She became too afraid to go out in public for fear that paparazzi would take unflattering photos of her. In desperation, she called her mom from a gas station to ask for help. After two months in rehab, she’s now feeling much stronger: “Strong enough to admit that I needed help and strong enough to have faced it head on.”
A pencil-thin build is standard among indie rockers, but Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon actually struggled with anorexia when he was a teenager. “I always thought I wasn’t good enough,” he has said. “I’d do anything to keep my hands and mouth busy without eating.” This involved drinking a lot of black coffee and running in a heavy tracksuit to sweat off more pounds. He discovered an unusual way of curbing the disorder, though: marijuana (and the calories consequently taken in due to the munchies). Now the frontman works to bulk up instead of losing weight. “I want to look like I can defend myself,” he said. “I want a guy to look at me in a bar and know that he can’t talk shit to me or run me over, even though he probably could.”
Disappointment, sadness, and pain hit me hard, and I tried to numb those feelings through my relationship with food.-Alanis Morissette
As a teen, Alanis Morissette often ate food to deal with her emotions, leading to bulimia and anorexia. “I was a young woman in the public eye, on the receiving end of a lot of attention, and I was trying to protect myself from men who were using their power in ways I was too young to know how to handle,” she has said. “Disappointment, sadness, and pain hit me hard, and I tried to numb those feelings through my relationship with food. For four to six months at a time, I would barely eat.” But when she was 18, a friend confronted her, which prompted Morissette to seek recovery. Even so, she dealt with eating issues right through her twenties. But finally she’s reached a healthier place: “Eating the right way has become a sort of spiritual practice for me.”
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