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Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift said in an interview last week with Variety magazine that she has struggled with an eating disorder.
Details about her experience on and off stage are chronicled in a new documentary about her life called, “Miss Americana,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last week. The documentary will be released on Netflix on Jan 31.
The 30-year-old entertainer admits that she would starve herself and simply stop eating after seeing pictures of herself that caused her to perceive her body negatively. She cites constant scrutiny of her appearance as damaging. At one point in the film she says, “It’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day.”
She became accustomed to feeling as if she were going to pass out at the end of a show or in the middle of one, she says in her film. Moreover, she believed depriving herself of food was normal behavior. She has since adopted a healthier mindset around food, saying, “Now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel (exhausted).”
People who watch the documentary will see Swift’s transformation from a size double-zero in her “1989” tour days compared to her size 6 frame while touring for her album “Reputation” in 2018.
Other Celebrities Struggle
Taylor Swift is just the latest celebrity to admit struggles with an eating disorder. Other celebrities who admit to having eating disorders, according to People magazine, include the following:
- Singer Karen Carpenter struggled for several years with an eating disorder. It ultimately led to her death by heart failure in 1983.
- Singer Demi Lovato entered a treatment facility at age 18 to deal with anorexia and bulimia. She admits to having felt ashamed of her body.
- Actor/singer/model Zoë Kravitz found it difficult to be surrounded by fame growing up and developed anorexia and bulimia as a teenager that continued into adulthood.
- Princess Diana once said in an interview that she developed bulimia the week after she was engaged to Prince Charles. She said it took about a decade to overcome her condition.
- Comedian Russell Brand says he developed an eating disorder as an adolescent. Around age 12 he said in an interview that he began binge-eating and vomiting.
- Gabourey Sidibe, an actress, reports she has had bouts of bulimia and depression. Eating and purging helped her cope with depression.
- Model Molly Sims reports sometimes not having eaten for days and walking up to 14 miles per day to maintain a size 0 during her earlier modeling days.
- Actor Hillary Duff says that she developed unhealthy eating habits as a teenager and that she was unhappy. She said her hands would sometimes cramp due to a lack of nutrients.
Other celebrities who have experienced eating disorders include actors Jane Fonda, Dennis Quaid, and Portia D Rossi, as well as news personality Ginger Zee, singer Kesha, and gymnast Shawn Johnson.
What Is Anorexia Nervosa?
Anorexia nervosa is a psychiatric condition that is part of the group of eating disorders, according to MedicineNet author Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD. It affects approximately 1% of adolescent girls and 0.3% of adolescent boys in the U.S., although young children and adults may also have the condition.
What causes anorexia? The cause has not been definitively established, but Dr. Dryden-Edwards says, “self-esteem and body-image issues, societal pressures, and genetic factors likely each play a role.”
Dr. Dryden-Edwards says the three basic diagnostic criteria of anorexia nervosa are restriction of food intake that leads to markedly low body weight, an intense fear of weight gain or becoming fat, and self-perception that is grossly distorted.
In addition to restricting food, people who suffer from anorexia often exercise excessively and overuse diet pills and/or laxatives, diuretics, or enemas in order to reduce body weight, according to Dr. Dryden-Edwards. The behaviors are meant to reduce body weight but also help the person feel a sense of control over his or her body.
Eating disorders can potentially negatively affect nearly every system of the body including the heart, kidneys, bones, gastrointestinal tract, and endocrine system. Frequent vomiting can damage tooth enamel. Lack of nutrition and/or purging may lead to dangerous electrolyte imbalances.
Dr. Dryden-Edwards says treatment for eating disorders may include psychotherapy, medication, nutritional education and management, and in-patient intervention, if necessary.
Talk to your doctor or therapist if you are suffering from symptoms of an eating disorder. Call the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) helpline at 1-800-931-2237 to receive support, resources, and treatment options.