Lauren Alaina is opening up about her battle with an eating disorder.
The country singer was a competitor on Season 10 of American Idol way back in 2011 — at the tender age of just 16 years old. While she may have appeared as this bubbly and happy girl on screen, in reality, she was struggling a lot on the inside.
Lauren shared on the Better Tomorrow podcast Wednesday that she had been battling an eating disorder battle, specifically bulimia, throughout her childhood. And when she was thrust into the spotlight, her condition worsened:
“I started having problems with eating disorders in middle school and then in tenth grade, I go on American Idol. And I was in my very awkward, chubby phase.”
As Lauren struggled with an eating disorder behind closed doors, she was also dealing with an overwhelming amount of brutal comments about her weight from viewers. The songstress explained to podcast host Hannah Brown she was shifting “between a teenager and a woman” on national television. And being hit with a barrage of negative comments about her body made things really hard for her — to the point where she completely “lost” herself:
“People commented a lot on my weight. What kind of evil humans can comment on a 16-year-old child is beyond me now, but as that 16-year-old child, it got very bad for a while. I suffered with such a severe eating disorder in those years where nothing was connecting. It wasn’t only because of me needing to work hard, I lost who I was completely. Everything. My light, it was dimmed quite a bit because of the TV aspect.”
That’s heartbreaking. And Lauren wasn’t only facing criticisms from fans of American Idol. She also had media outlets attacking her weight. The Road Less Traveled artist recalled an unnamed blog that often photoshopped a pig nose on pictures of her and called her “Miss Piggy” after each of her performances in the competition series. What the f**k?! It’s possible she’s referring to the long-defunct website Vote for the Worst, a community devoted to Idol hate-watching the competition.
Although Lauren was experiencing success on the show, it was hard to appreciate her time there as she fought her eating disorder:
“It was an extreme high and an extreme low and I got sick. I struggled very, very bad with bulimia for a really long time.”
Eventually, things got better for Lauren. She was in “complete remission for years.” But when she went on Dancing With the Stars in 2019, she “had to start going to therapy for it” due to her trauma and fear of being “back on national television again.” Fortunately, the country star seems to be in a “great” place and has a strong group of supportive people surrounding her these days:
“Luckily, in my life, pretty much everybody knows and will check in on me and make sure I’m being healthy. I’ve had therapy, and I’ve changed a lot of things in my life. And that will always be a thing I struggle with. But I’m doing great, I’m very happy, very healthy.”
We’re glad Lauren is in a good place now and able to talk about her story for those struggling with something similar. You can see her interview on the Better Tomorrow podcast (below):
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, there is help available. Consider visiting https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ or call their hotline at (800)-931-2237 for resources.