Singer-songwriter Kesha has opened up about her experiences with her eating disorder in an essay for Elle UK, in which she explains her difficulties, not only to combat the rumours questioning the true reasons behind her rehab stay earlier this year, “I worried about what people would think. I was here for an eating disorder—but I knew people would assume I was here for other things.”
With many of her songs expressing ideologies of self-love and acceptance such as, “We R Who We R” and “Warrior” she goes on to discuss that she felt like a fraud singing affirming songs to a young audience whilst struggling with an eating disorder and self-acceptance herself, “I’ve always tried to be a crusader for loving yourself, but I’d been finding it harder and harder to do personally,” she said. “I felt like a liar, telling people to love themselves as they are, while I was being hateful to myself and really hurting my body. I wanted to control things that weren’t in my power, but I was controlling the wrong things. I convinced myself that being sick, being skinny was part of my job. It felt safer somehow. I had been abusing my body. I just wasn’t giving it the energy it needed to keep me healthy and strong.”
I think that for Kesha to come out and write a letter publicly like this, and in brutal honesty about her struggles is a really wonderful achievement, not only for her and for our culture of stigmatising mental health, but also for the younger generations who look up to her. By doing so, she is turning her back on the trend to shun public responsibility, and taking responsibility for herself, her health and the public impact of her image.
Her bravery to talk about her difficulties in a frank way is admirable – and an exceptionally positive move forwards that young stars like Kesha and Demi Lovato can come forward and talk about mental health in a non-glamourising but raw way. It is a far cry from the 00’s, and we had the glamourising media influx from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, Kate Moss, Rachel Zoe and Lindsay Lohan spiking negative impacts of the media alongside the size 0 debate and the fashion industry on their effects in regards to body image and attitude portrayals within youth media, who are inevitably impacted by such messages. Although the media doesn’t cause an eating disorder but “thinner is the winner” and “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” ideologies sure do perpetuate unhealthy ideologies.
“The music industry has set unrealistic expectations for what a body is supposed to look like, and I started becoming overly critical of my own body because of that,” the 27-year-old singer wrote. “I felt like people were always lurking, trying to take pictures of me with the intention of putting them up online or printing them in magazines and making me look terrible. I became scared to go in public, or even use the internet. I may have been paranoid, but I also saw and heard enough hateful things to fuel that paranoia.”
By acknowledging the impact that working within the entertainment industry has had on her perceptions of herself and her image is very brave. Instead of denying the pressures having an impact, she is addressing that there is a problem within the entertainment industries – by doing so, she is acknowledging the social pressures faced by us all, and mostly so, the younger generations. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction towards a healthier environment within and portrayed by the entertainment industries for younger people, in addition to tackling the stigma of mental health by abolishing her silence.
Thank You Kesha.