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Kelly Clarkson Shares How Looking Physically 'Healthy' Doesn't Make You Mentally Healthy

Update Oct. 24 12:59 p.m.: Since the publication of this piece, Kelly Clarkson tweeted, “I wasn’t ever miserable because I had to be thin. I said I was miserable & as a result I became thin,” contrary to the original Attitude article which read, “She was painfully unhappy at the time because of the pressure she felt from executives to stay ‘really skinny.’”

In an exclusive interview with Attitude magazine, former “American Idol” winner Kelly Clarkson opened up about how the pressure to be thin led her to experience suicidal thoughts.

“When I was really skinny, I wanted to kill myself,” she said. “I was miserable, like inside and out, for four years of my life. But no one cared, because aesthetically you make sense.”

In a study that examined suicidal thoughts and attempting to lose weight, it was found that underweight adults attempting to lose weight were at a higher risk for suicidal ideation and depressive symptoms.

“It was a very dark time for me. I thought the only way out was quitting. I like wrecked my knees and my feet because all I would do is put in headphones and run. I was at the gym all the time,” Clarkson said.  

This isn’t the first time Clarkson has opened up about mental health struggles. Back in the August 2007 issue of CosmoGIRL!, the singer shared that after losing a part in a high school musical to a thinner girl, she turned to disordered eating behaviors.

“The lesson I took from that was purely superficial, but that’s what I grew up thinking for a long time. It wasn’t smart, and I headed straight into an eating disorder and became bulimic for the next six months,” she said.

And while most people who struggle with bulimia and other eating disorders can’t “go cold turkey” and simply “snap out of it,” like she said she did in the interview, her statement does bring up an important point about the pressure to “look” a certain way to be successful.

In a study on thinness in the media, researchers found “in Western culture, thinness was associated with good health and high status.” But as Clarkson’s reflections show, thinness isn’t a guarantee that everything is OK.

Mighty contributor Erica Chau elaborated on this idea, explaining why people didn’t know she was struggling with an eating disorder:

There are a lot of disorders you don’t see. While the pain, anxiety and frustration may be invisible, the hurt, pain and emotion turmoil certainly are real. It’s a daily struggle. Please don’t make my daily battles harder than they already are, simply because it doesn’t ‘look’ like it’s that bad.

Thank you Kelly Clarkson for opening up about an issue that is so often overlooked. Just because someone doesn’t “look” like they’re struggling, doesn’t mean they aren’t. We need to extend compassion to all, regardless of how “put together” they seem to be — it could save a life.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Photo via Kelly Clarkson Facebook page

Image via Creative Commons/vagueonthehow from Tadcaster, York, England

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