Country Singer Lauren Alaina Opens Up About Her Experiences With Bulimia
When singer Lauren Alaina was just 16 years old, she was thrust into the national spotlight as a contestant on “American Idol”. This would be the highlight of many performers’ lives, but for Alaina it proved to be her undoing.
During her time on the show, Alaina googled her name and discovered a blogger had singled her out for her weight and nicknamed her “Miss Piggy”. The blogger would also take photos of the singer and digitally add a pig nose and pig ears in every post.
As a high schooler, Alaina stood 5 feet, 8 inches. But, her body was larger than her peers and the singer already struggled with body image issues. After her time on the show and under national scrutiny, the body image problems intensified. Eventually, they grew into a several years-long battle with bulimia that would almost end her career entirely.
Ultimately, Alaina would finish second on “American Idol” to Scotty McCreery in 2011, which led to Alaina going on the American Idol tour. At the same time, she would begin strictly eating only 500 calories a day and starting to use injections intended to lose weight. Not long after, she would spiral into bulimia, which she attempted to hide by simultaneously maintaining a lean diet and frequent exercise regimen. Before long, she had lost 40 pounds.
“I think people kind of wondered how I was losing all of that weight,” Alaina told The Tennessean. “At the time, I was so sick, but I still wanted to be smaller. I’m 5-8 and was wearing a size 0.”
For several years, Alaina lived with her illness and rationalized it as helping her career. Little did she know the effects of bulimia on her body were putting her at risk of never singing again.
Lauren Alaina hid her eating disorder from everyone, including friends and family, until visiting a doctor to treat polyps on her vocal cords. Alaina had the polyps ever since she was child, but they were growing more severe – a common sign of eating disorders. When the doctor asked if she ever had an eating disorder, the singer initially denied it. Thankfully, her mother was also present and knew something was wrong.
“She said, ‘Lauren,’ in that mom voice,” Alaina recalled. “I remember being so embarrassed. I thought I was hiding it from her, so when she said that, I was like, ‘Oh.’ I burst into tears.”
The polyps weren’t the only symptom plaguing Alaina by this point. Her hair was falling out in clumps, and she was struggling with fatigue from lack of nutrition. The doctor explained that if she didn’t recover from her bulimia soon, the polyps would likely continue to become more severe until Alaina would not be able to sing ever again.
“Obviously, singing is the only thing I want to do in life,” she said. “I have no backup plan. People knowing made me not want to do it.”
Under doctor’s orders, Alaina went on vocal rest while retreating to a beach house for two weeks with her mom, who she says “stayed glued to my hip.” While the recovery wouldn’t be as immediate, the retreat was the start of recovery with the support of her close friends and family.
“I was letting someone I was never going to be in the same room with impact my every day happiness,” Alaina said of the blogger who called her names. “I still wake up with the uglies and I still have days where I say things to myself that I shouldn’t say. But I feel like speaking out about it has made me want to be healthier.”
Now, finally free from her eating disorder at the age of 21, Alaina is taking inspiration from her struggles to help inspire others through her music. Her latest single, “Road Less Traveled,” was directly inspired by her experiences with bulimia and overcoming and eating disorder.
“This song came from a part of me that isn’t the prettiest part of me, but I want to use it to encourage people regardless of what they see as their flaw,” said Alaina, who wrote the song with body-positive pop star Meghan Trainor and Jesse Frasure.