Our member Allie Outram has welcomed Taylor Swift opening up about her eating disorder.

Allie says it was positive to hear the pop superstar talking about her experience and that it will raise awareness with the public.

Taylor says she was “triggered to starve a little bit” after someone commented on a photograph of her that she looked pregnant.

The Shake It Off singer, who is due to headline Glastonbury this summer, spoke about her experiences in a new Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, and in an interview with Variety magazine.

Body image

Taylor told Variety: “I didn’t know if I was going to feel comfortable with talking about body image and talking about the stuff I’ve gone through in terms of how unhealthy that’s been for me — my relationship with food and all that over the years.

“But the way that Lana (Wilson, the film’s director) tells the story, it really makes sense. I’m not as articulate as I should be about this topic because there are so many people who could talk about it in a better way.

“But all I know is my own experience. And my relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: 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.

“And then I’d walk into a photo shoot and be in the dressing room and somebody who worked at a magazine would say, ‘Oh, wow, this is so amazing that you can fit into the sample sizes. Usually we have to make alterations to the dresses, but we can take them right off the runway and put them on you.’

“I looked at that as a pat on the head. You register that enough times, and you just start to accommodate everything towards praise and punishment, including your own body.”

Awareness

Allie, a psychotherapist and former international athlete who is based in Bradford, was anorexic and wrote the book Running on Empty about her experiences.

She said: “Anything that can bring awareness of eating disorders is a positive thing. Taylor Swift says she isn’t proud of what she did but it’s an illness and was nothing to be ashamed about.”

Allie added: “Eating disorders are serious, complex, costly and challenging mental illnesses. They are often perceived as discrete, subtle and silent conditions however the message they send out is loud, crystal clear, and speaks volumes.

“Individuals may suffer in silence with hidden feelings, neglected thoughts and dismissed emotions but their message is one of the most powerful examples of non-verbal communication known.

“All eating disorder symptoms are significant and can only be understood as an expression of underlying issues and difficulties. They contain a message that goes beyond the limits of the behaviour itself.

“Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness claiming precious, promising lives ever year. One in five of the most seriously affected will die prematurely. Of all psychological conditions they also have the worst prognosis. The sooner someone gets the treatment they need, the more likely they are to make a full recovery.”

To talk to a BACP counsellor or psychotherapist about eating disorders, visit our Therapist directory.