While most women haven’t had the experience of being on the cover of a magazine or in countless paparazzi photos, Swift’s feeling here is probably relatable to many. “I remember how, when I was 18, that was the first time I was on the cover of a magazine,” she continues. “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!’ And 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.”
The under-eating not only affected her mental health, but her physical as well, especially while she was on tour. “I thought that I was supposed to feel like I was going to pass out at the end of a show, or in the middle of it,” Swift says in the doc, according to Variety. “Now I realize, no, if you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel [enervated].” Swift says she doesn’t care so much now if someone comments on a weight gain, and she’s reconciled “the fact that I’m a size 6 instead of a size double-zero.” Swift says she was completely unaware that anything was wrong in her double-zero era, and had a defense at the ready should it come up. If anyone expressed concern, she’d say, “‘What are you talking about? Of course I eat. …. I exercise a lot.’ And I did exercise a lot. But I wasn’t eating.”
Swift says she has found comfort in the work of Brene Brown and Jameela Jamil. “I love people like Jameela Jamil, because she says things in a really articulate way,” she tells Variety. “The way she speaks about body image, it’s almost like she speaks in a hook. If you read her quotes about women and body image and aging and the way that women are treated in our industry and portrayed in the media, I swear the way she speaks is like lyrics, and it gets stuck in my head and it calms me down.”
Given her reach and impact, it’s a pretty big deal for Taylor Swift to speak out about her complicated relationship with food in such an intimate way and share that she’s in a healthier place now.
“I am actually really happy,” she says. “Because I pick and choose now, for the most part, what I care deeply about. And I think that’s made a huge difference.”