She says looking at photos of herself was a big trigger for her during her 1989 tour
In a new Netflix documentary, Taylor Swift is revealing her struggles with an eating disorder that caused her to “stop eating” altogether when she’d see photos of herself. Her lowest point, she says, was during her extremely popular 1989 tour.
The documentary, titled Miss Americana, highlights the pop star’s career and personal life. Her candor about her eating disorder, however, is truly enlightening. She shares with Variety that looking at photos of herself would trigger her into not eating.
“It’s not good for me to see pictures of myself every day,” she says in the film. She admits there have been times in the past when she’s seen “a picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or… someone said that I looked pregnant … and that’ll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating.”
She’s spent half her life in the spotlight, having signed her first major record deal at just 15 years old. That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone so young, and to spend a majority of your formative years having your body discussed, analyzed, and photographed constantly has got to be, at the very least, incredibly daunting and stressful.
She admits that her issues surrounding her body image and food are difficult to discuss, and she was hesitant to do so for the movie. “I’m not as articulate as I should be about this topic because there are so many people who could talk about it in a better way,” she admits. “But all I know is my own experience. And my relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad.”
She says she’d receive praise for being a size “double zero” (how is that even a size?!) because that meant she fit into the sample selections offered by fashion designers. They wouldn’t have to create anything new or tailored to fit her physique. (Yes, that’s right, a “sample” size is double zero for many fashion houses — that’s another rant for another day.)
“I’d walk into a photoshoot and be in the dressing room and somebody who worked at a magazine would say, ‘Oh, wow, this is so amazing that you can fit into the sample sizes,'” Swift explains. “‘You register that enough times, and you just start to accommodate everything towards praise and punishment, including your own body.”
The way the pop star describes her eating habits during her 1989 tour is nothing short of heartbreaking — she admits to intentionally depriving herself during the grueling physical performances, night after night. “I thought that I was supposed to feel like I was going to pass out at the end of a show, or in the middle of it,” she says. “Now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel (enervated).”
Now, she says, she’s learning how to tackle the shame she feels by deciding to give weight to things that matter and not focus on those that don’t. The singer also recently revealed that her mother, Andrea, was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
“I know that there’s a lot of bad stuff that’s gone on recently, a lot of really hard stuff my family is going through, and a lot of opposition and feeling pressure or suppression of one kind or another,” she says. “But I am actually really happy. Because I pick and choose now, for the most part, what I care deeply about. And I think that’s made a huge difference.”