Taylor Swift has revealed she previously struggled with an eating disorder, and would sometimes “starve” herself if she thought she looked too fat.
The Shake It Off singer says comments about her body, including one particularly cutting headline that described her as looking “pregnant”, led her to stop eating.
She told Variety magazine she’s still uncomfortable talking about it – but that it’s handled well by the director of her new Netflix documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
Miss Americana promises a “raw and emotionally revealing” look at Swift’s rise to pop stardom, which she has described as taking “the masking tape off my mouth, like, forever”.
In a particularly candid part of the film, Swift describes how her “unhealthy” relationship with food led her to view feedback on her figure as either a “punishment” or “reward”.
She explains: “If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad.
“I remember how, when I was 18, that was the first time I was on the cover of a magazine.
“And the headline was like ‘Pregnant at 18?’ And it was because I had worn something that made my lower stomach look not flat. So I just registered that as a punishment.”
She says she saw praise over fitting into tiny sample sizes during photoshoots as a positive, so did her best to accommodate her body accordingly.
Admitting that seeing pictures of herself every day was bad for her, she said there were times in the past when certain images would “just trigger me to just starve a little bit – just stop eating”.
Swifts dramatic weight loss between 2014 and 2018 is illustrated with photos in the film, comparing her 1989 album shots with pictures from her Reputation tour.
She says that at the time she was cutting out food to stay skinny.
“I thought that I was supposed to feel like I was going to pass out at the end of a show, or in the middle of it,” she added.
“Now I realise, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel (drained).”
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Swift says now, at 30, she’s finally come to terms with her weight, accepting that she’s “a size 6 instead of a size double-zero” (a UK 10 rather than a UK 2, which measures 25 inches around the waist).
She credited British actress Jameela Jamil, who now lives in the US, with leading the charge against the impossible beauty standards she feels women in the industry are held to.
Swift also said she had been inspired by author and Ted Talk star Brene Brown, whose books had helped her deal with issues of shame.
Director Lana Wilson, says “unhealthy-skinny” had become normalised in the media at the time Swift was climbing up the charts, leading to criticism of women’s bodies across the board.
She hailed Swift as “brave” for speaking openly about her struggles.
Miss Americana premieres on Netflix on Friday 31 January.