Published Jan 24, 2020Taylor Swift is the subject of the documentary Miss Americana, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival yesterday (January 23), and she reveals in the film that she battled with an eating disorder around the time of her "1989 World Tour."
In the film, she admits that seeing photos of herself every day caused her to develop a negative body image, causing her to critique the way she looked and "trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating."
In an interview with Variety, Swift elaborated on her relationship with food and her body.
"I didn't know if I was going to feel comfortable with talking about body image and talking about the stuff I've gone through in terms of how unhealthy that's been for me — my relationship with food and all that over the years," she said. "But the way that Lana [Wilson, the film's director] tells the story, it really makes sense."
Swift added, "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. 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."
Swift said when she saw tabloid headlines like "Pregnant at 18?" she would think she had done something wrong, while comments from designers about her being able to fit into sample sizes of clothing would be internalized as doing something right.
Swift admitted she was under-eating and didn't realize it was affecting her performance ability until she began to recover.
"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 in the film, referring to her 1989-era concerts. "Now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel [enervated]."
Wilson also elaborated on her decision to include footage of Swift talking about her eating disorder and criticized those who rewarded Swift for being unhealthy.
"You can also just not notice people being really skinny, because we're all so accustomed to seeing women on magazine covers who are unhealthy-skinny, and that's become normalized," Wilson told Variety. "It's incessant, and I can say this as a woman: It's amazing to me how people are constantly like 'You look skinny' or 'You've gained weight.' People you barely know say this to you. And it feels awful, and you can't win either way. So I think it's really brave to see someone who is a role model for so many girls and women be really honest about that. I think it will have a huge impact."
Miss Americana will arrive on Netflix on January 31.
If you or someone you know if struggling with disordered eating and body image issues, there are resources available to help via the National Eating Disorder Information Centre.