Florence Welch uses new single to finally confront her eating disorder
Florence Welch opens the new single from her band, Florence and the Machine’s by singing “at 17, I started to starve myself.”
The song, “Hunger,” marks the first time she was “able to put it on paper” or publicly talk about the eating disorder she developed as a teenager.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian’s Observer, she said had been terrified of talking about her eating disorder despite currently being in remission. Still, she felt she needed to sing about it – though she also says doing so confused her family.
“Like, ‘You couldn’t admit this for years, and now you put it in a pop song?'” Florence remembers her sister saying.
As an adult, she realized that many of her symptoms were linked to coping mechanisms she developed growing up to protect herself from imaginative fears (she believed ghosts and werewolves were real.)
“I learned ways to manage that terror – drink, drugs, controlling food. It was like a renaissance of childhood, a toddler’s self-destruction let loose in a person with grown-up impulses.”
Still, she doesn’t know where exactly these habits developed into an actual eating disorder. When she was asked what she felt triggered the eating disorder, she responded “I know how to deal with it in a song, but a lot of stuff I’m… still figuring out?”
“I can say things in a song I don’t understand yet, like: ‘I thought love was a kind of emptiness’ — that feels important. You think love is unreachable, empty, hungry, then there’s a kind of sadness when something more stable comes towards you. You don’t recognize it as love because it’s not desperate enough. And I’ve never tied the two together until now.”
It has taken more than a decade for Welch to reach the point where she felt comfortable talking about her experience with her eating disorder, but she says that time has given her some perspective.
“I’m further away from it than I ever have been,” Florence said. “It was something I experienced and I’m 31 now and at a time where I can perhaps… see what I was looking for?”
If you or someone you know is living with an eating disorder, please call Brookhaven for help at 888-298-HOPE (4673). We can answer any questions you have and find the right treatment plan for you.