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Taylor Swift recently opened up to Variety on her relationship to both food and her body, (hyperlink sentence) after comments on her body ranged from mildly aggravating to incredibly damaging. Swift explains how she might see “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.” While she doesn’t name it implicitly, Taylor Swift’s description of not eating is characteristic of Anorexia nervosa or avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder— often shortened to anorexia — which is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder.
An eating disorder is a persistent disturbance of eating or eating-related behavior that results in the consumption of food that is not typical or not suitable for the person’s age, circumstances and nutritional needs. An eating disorder is diagnosed when that disturbance impairs physical health or psychological or social functioning. The most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating and avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder.
Those with Anorexia or avoidant or restrictive food intake disorder often hold themselves to impossible standards of weight, shape, and food intake since their perception of body size is distorted. These perceptions can result in dangerously low body weight and an overwhelming fear or anxiety about gaining weight, which manifest in unhealthy behaviors like extreme food restriction or not eating at all — just as Taylor Swift mentions.
While Taylor Swift doesn’t elaborate at length on how her eating disorder has manifested, she does explain how comments from others — even people she didn’t know — were especially hurtful. Here are a few helpful swaps when discussing food, weight, and body type: