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Why Taylor Swift's Eating Disorder Reveal Could Help Others

Pop superstar Taylor Swift, whose documentary “Miss Americana” premiered at Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, stunned fans across the world when she spoke out about a long-held secret: her past struggles with an eating disorder.

Swift, 30, spoke with Variety about her bold decision to include her past experiences with an eating disorder in her new documentary, sharing, “I didn’t know if I was going to feel comfortable talking about body image [in Miss Americana]… but the way that Lana (Wilson, the documentary’s director) tells the story, it really makes sense.”

In a voiceover in the documentary, the Lover songstress elaborated on her battle against her eating disorder, revealing that “it’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day.” She also candidly spoke out about difficult moments in her past when seeing pictures of her stomach or hearing strangers say that she looked “pregnant” would “…trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating.”

But despite Swift’s ultra-public presence, she’s certainly not alone in her struggles with body image and eating disorders. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), at least 30 million Americans of all ages and genders battle eating disorders. Further, 65% of women engage in disordered eating behaviors, while nearly a third of those living with eating disorders are male. However, over 70% of those who battle eating disorders don’t seek treatment, largely due to the stigma and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders.

Swift’s powerful candor about her eating disorder behaviors and body image struggles will not only resonate with others facing similar struggles, but could also encourage others to seek help for their eating disorder behaviors. Although a slew of celebrities, from Demi Lovato to Kesha, have opened up about their eating disorder struggles in recent years, every time yet another celebrity speaks out about their battles with eating disorders, they reignite our motivation to treat our bodies with kindness, seek help and actively work towards recovery.

Many people with eating disorders will see themselves in Swift’s struggles — her focus on reward and punishment, her black-and-white thinking, the praise she received for upholding society’s arbitrary beauty standards and, of course, her struggle to speak out about the challenges of living with an eating disorder. But Taylor Swift’s brave decision to open up about her past eating disorder could not only show disordered eaters that they are seen, but could also encourage them to speak openly about their disorders without shame and courageously seek the help they need to live fulfilling, recovered lives.

Image via Creative Commons/palendromist