Ke$ha surprised everyone when she stepped out of the spotlight last week to undergo treatment for an eating disorder. The “Timber” singer shared with her fans that she would be seeking help at the Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center near Chicago for 30 days.
According to experts, her decision to get help and her honesty with fans is the first step to recovery.
“In-patient treatment is often really important and it takes time,” Kate Taylor, who edited the book “Going Hungry: Writers on Desire, Self-Denial, and Overcoming Anorexia,” told MTV News. “Obviously, actresses, singers, celebrities of all kind who are on display, particularly women, are under a lot of pressure in terms of how they look, and, you know, not to say that normal women aren’t either, but for celebrities it’s a professional thing too.”
Ke$ha is the latest female A-lister to open up about her struggles with an eating disorder. Over the course of the last few years, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga and “Pretty Little Liars” actress Troian Bellisario have all gone public with their issues. Many of those celebrities have become advocates for those who have eating disorders.
“I think that’s really hard,” Taylor added. “I think that it’s not surprising that a lot of them suffer from eating disorders, particularly really young ones. So I think it’s great that she’s getting treatment. It can be a very hard illness to recover from. But, I think serious in-patient treatment is the most important first step.”
After rehab, Ke$ha could use her experience and fame to help others with the same struggles, Taylor said.
“Maybe she’ll be able to talk about it more when she’s out of treatment and that could be a great thing if she’s willing to be open about it and possibly become a spokeswoman for those issues and how hard it is for these young women who are in the spotlight and under pressure,” Taylor said.
Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of National Eating Disorders Association, told MTV News that paparazzi and social media put new pressures on this crop of celebrities.
“It doesn’t cause eating disorders, but I absolutely think the pressure now with the Internet, people zooming in and taking a picture of someone’s thigh and then sending it to millions of people around the world. You know, they didn’t have that back when Elizabeth Taylor was considered the most beautiful woman in the world. The microscope is enormous and painful and I hate to see it,” Grefe explained.
“It’s not that people wake up one day and say ‘I want to have an eating disorder,’ ” Grefe continued. “What they do wake up and say is ‘Oh my goodness, I need to go on a diet because I’m being criticized.’ And that’s the world they are living in. And it’s tough to see so many of these celebrities, but the pressure on them is enormous.”
Grefe noted that Ke$ha, like many of her peers before her, has opened up the conversation about how dangerous eating disorders are.
“She really made an important step, as does everyone who decides they finally need treatment for an eating disorder because that’s the most important thing they can do,” she said. “People are in denial so often and they just say it’s not a problem. Anorexia has the highest death rate of any mental illness and so to take it lightly or wait too long before going into treatment is actually dangerous. The fact that she was public about it, I love that.”