Lady Gaga’s Battle with an Eating Disorder—Just Bulimia?

Woman's hand on the fence

Even though it seems like we know so much about celebrities, public information is only one piece of the puzzle. This makes it impossible to understand the full story. However, we can gain a more realistic picture if the individual chooses to share their life’s intimate details. One celebrity who has demonstrated authentic vulnerability about her struggle with mental health is Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga’s Eating Disorder Experience

Gaga has shared about her battle with bulimia and negative body image [1]. Gaga has talked about how being in the public eye has contributed to her struggle with body image. This makes sense, given the emphasis that is placed on appearance within Western culture. This pressure is heightened for public figures.

However, while Gaga acknowledges this has influenced her body image, she also shared that her eating disorder began before she was famous [1]. Eating disorders are complex conditions because they are the product of physical, emotional, and social issues [2].

Given the complexity and intimate nature of eating disorders, unless Gaga shares these details, it is impossible to know her relationship with food and her body. Until then, the information she has made public is a societal gift. Authentic disclosures like Gaga’s are like permission slips. Authentic and honest emotional expression creates space for others to be honest too.

Honesty About Eating Disorders in Society

Mother and daughter talking about Lady Gaga's eating disorder experienceHonesty like this takes courage because eating disorders are stigmatized in American culture. It can be shameful to talk about you or your loved one’s struggle with mental health. This is partially due to the fact that mental health is widely misunderstood.

This societal lack of understanding about these conditions can lead people to keep their struggle with an eating disorder a secret. However, healing can’t happen when someone is burdened by shame. Open conversations about struggles with mental health can help reduce feelings of shame that can prevent people from getting the help they need.

It can be intimidating to start a conversation with a loved one about your struggle with food, exercise, or body image. Similarly, it can be challenging for loved ones to express their concern to someone who is struggling with these issues. However, these conversations are crucial.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, it can be helpful to talk with a trusted person. This can be a family member, friend, or any safe person. A safe person is someone that can listen without judgment and can provide compassion.

How You Can Start the Conversation

If you know someone showing signs of disordered eating, it can be helpful to start the conversation with your intention. You could say something like, “I’m saying this because I care about you, not to judge or blame you.” Then you can point out what behaviors you’ve noticed.

For example, “I notice you haven’t been eating breakfast? Is something bothering you?” If they become defensive, then you can clarify your intention and let them know that you are open to talking about it when they are ready. This plants the seed for future conversations and can create feelings of emotional safety.

If you are a concerned parent, even if your child is dismissive or defensive, it is important to take them to an eating disorder medical professional in order to make sure they are medically safe. This can be difficult to do, but it can save a life.

Starting the conversation about mental health sometimes is the hardest part. If the result is getting treatment that brings relief and an overall better life, then it’s worth the risk.


Resources:

[1] Huffpost. (2012, February 10). Lady gaga talks eating disorders: Singer reveals she was bulimic in high school. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/lady-gaga-reveals-she-was-bulimic-in-high-school_n_1266646

[2] National Eating Disorder Awareness. (n.d). Prevention. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_electronic_sources.html


About the Author:

Samantha Bothwell PhotoSamantha Bothwell, LMFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, writer, explorer, and lipstick aficionado. She became a therapist after doing her own healing work so she could become whole after spending many years living with her mind and body disconnected. She has focused her clinical work to support the healing process of survivors of sexual violence and eating disorders. She is passionate about guiding people in their return to their truest Self so they can live their most authentic, peaceful life.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published October 26, 2020, on EatingDisorderHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on October 26, 2020, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.