On Friday, singer Kesha became the latest celebrity to speak out about her eating disorder, when she checked into the Timberline Knolls Centre and gave this statement to the press:
“I’m a crusader for being yourself and loving yourself but I’ve found it hard to practice, I’ll be unavailable for the next 30 days, seeking treatment for my eating disorder … [and] to learn to love myself again. Exactly as I am.”
Being in the public eye, a celebrity always receives much more of a reaction from society when going public with an issue like this, which is why I have to admire Kesha’s bravery and that of the other celebrities who have spoken openly about their problems over the years.
However, going public is a gamble and there are both positive and negative repercussions when a celebrity admits to having an eating disorder. In some cases it can be a valuable and important message to others who may be suffering, particularly young girls who might idolise and look up to these celebrities, and I would like to think that it may encourage others to get help themselves.
However, unfortunately, the media has a tendency to focus on the negative aspects. I have already read a number of online articles scrutinising Kesha’s weight over the years and discussing her previous diet and exercise regimes. The other worry is the glamorisation of eating disorders, which often happens when they appear in the public eye associated with celebrities and supermodels. As much as society has started to move away from the idea that anorexia and bulimia are glamorous lifestyle choices, rather than serious diseases, there is still no doubt that young people and teenagers are susceptible to being influenced by the lifestyles of celebrities.
Although Kesha has done an extremely courageous and brave thing by getting the help she needs and doing it publicly, what her fans and the rest of the general public will never see or hear is the hardship she will face on her journey to recovery and for long afterwards. When celebrities do speak about their eating disorders the common occurrence is for them to emerge from rehab after a short time and as far as anyone is concerned, they are perfectly healthy again, all relationships with food restored. In reality of course this is not the case and Kesha among many others will still be battling her eating disorder behind closed doors for a long time to come.
These factors make me question just how positive celebrities speaking out actually can be, does it paint an unrealistic picture of an eating disorder? In 30 days time when Kesha makes her post-treatment statement to the press, some will know what is going on beneath the bravado, the challenges she has still to face and what recovery from an eating disorder is really like. I hope that her courage continues and that her influence will encourage others to take the same brave steps.