On celebrities and eating disorders

I’m now just *days* away from the release of The Tycoon’s Daughter, the Treadwell book about Emma’s struggle with an eating disorder in the modeling industry. The book is very close to my heart, maybe more than all of the other Treadwell books in the series, because I think body image is such a profoundly important issue for young girls.
I’m sure this may be perceived as a bit of an inflammatory post because Little Monsters are quick to defend Lady Gaga, but knowing that, I’m going to post anyway.

Ke$ha

Ke$ha

Pop star Ke$ha, who landed her own record deal and became a star in her own right after singing backup for Britney Spears, just announced that she checked into Timberline Knolls, an eating disorder treatment center (oddly enough) in the town where my father lives outside Chicago. I can’t clap my hands loudly enough for her, because she’s let her fans know that this is an issue with which she personally struggles, and she’s demonstrating total girl power by getting help for it. THIS is setting a good example.
Last year, when Lady Gaga was called out by the press for gaining weight before her European tour, she made a big deal about informing her fans that she suffered from an eating disorder, then didn’t publicly make any statement about seeking treatment, and suddenly appeared 30 lbs slimmer in photos again once her tour ended. I’m a fan of Lady Gaga’s music, but I felt that this behavior of hers was completely counter-intuitive to her “Born This Way” platform and sent an indisputably negative message to fans, male and female, about body weight.

Jennifer Lawrence recently caused a stir when she told Barbara Walters that she thinks it should be illegal for the media to call people fat, and while I’m a big supporter of freedom of speech, I do think that there should be fines for making derogatory statements that impact how youth view themselves and their peers. Ms. Lawrence’s point that radio stations and networks are fined for cuss words is a valid one: who do cuss words really hurt, anyway? Do they inspire healthy kids to go on diets, find ways to get their hands on drugs to stimulate weight loss, and manifest in ways to cause other negative behaviors, like cutting? If more celebrities were forthright about their own personal struggles with body image, they might inspire more young fans to seek help and get serious about getting healthy.

Kudos to Ke$ha for her honesty and courage. I hope the lovely people of Lemont, Illinois take good care of her. For anyone struggling with this issue who could use some good advice, here’s one of my absolute favorite stars, Demi Lovato, addressing kids in treatment at Timberline Knolls, where she, herself, received treatment:
http://www.mtv.com/videos/news/746211/demi-lovato-stay-strong-visiting-timberline-knolls.jhtml

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7 thoughts on “On celebrities and eating disorders

  1. Was diagnosed with Anorexia in my mid-20s, I weighed 90lbs and would go by for days with just coffee and cigarettes to sustain me. I was trying to get into the music industry. I’m glad that that’s over and I am where I am now. Excited to read this book. I’ll keep an eye out for its release.

    • Thank you so much for sharing! Especially that you were trying to get into the music industry – as I think oftentimes eating disorders and body image issues manifest when there’s some other pressure in the mix (trying to be accepted into a tough, image-driven industry, prove yourself among “cool” people, etc.). I’m glad you made it through anorexia and are happy & healthy now!

  2. I do so agree with you re eating disorders. The media, fashion and film industry have a lot to answer for. To say a normal. healthy woman is obese is an insult – and insulting to the truly obese who are most likely heart broken at their situation. So looking forward to your next novel – you are an incredibly talented young woman!

  3. Caitlyn,
    I am so excited for the next book to come out!!!! I can’t wait to read it! You are one of my favorite authors and I love the treadwell series!!!!

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