Country singer Lauren Alaina opened up about her struggle with an eating disorder while she was competing on season 10 of American Idol.
“I started having problems with [an] eating disorder in middle school and then in tenth grade, I go on American Idol,” Alaina, 28, said to Hannah Brown on the Wednesday, August 9, episode of the “Better Tomorrow” podcast. “And I was in my very awkward, chubby phase.”
Alaina explained that the “biggest criticism” she endured came from the girls in her high school but that changed when she decided to go on “national television.”
“I was always confident on the stage, the one thing I wasn’t confident [about] was my weight probably like my whole life,” she recalled. “Well not my whole life, but starting in eighth grade-ish because I became a cheerleader and I was a softball player before that and so I was not built the same.”
Alaina was the runner-up on the wildly popular singing competition series in 2011, losing to fellow country artist Scotty McCreery. Alaina recalled being “between a teenager and a woman” while a 16-year-old on the show, and marveled at how so many viewers focused on and criticized her body.
“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,” Alaina admitted. “I suffered with such a severe eating disorder in those years where nothing was connecting, it wasn’t only because [I needed] to work hard, I lost who I was completely. Everything, my light like it was dimmed quite a bit because of the TV aspect.”
Alaina remembered there was even a blog at the time, which she did not name, that photoshopped a “pig nose” on her face and referred to her as “Miss Piggy.” Still, despite the hurtful comments, Alaina managed to also feel good about her fan-favorite performances on the show.
“It was an extreme high and an extreme low and I got sick … I struggled very, very bad with bulimia for a very long time,” she confessed. “In fact when I was going on Dancing With the Stars [in 2019,] I had been in remission for years at that point. And something about knowing I was going back on national television I had to start going to therapy for it again.”
Alaina says she’s currently doing “great” as she continues to release new music and tour while feeling “happy and healthy.” While she usually stays away from reading comments online, she does look at the ones that are “really great” and interacts with her fans. She says that today, “things are very positive.” now.
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If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder, visit the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders (ANAD) website or call their hotline at (888)-375-7767 to get help.