Ke$ha Goes to Rehab for an Eating Disorder, Confirming the Wrongness of Our Body-Image Expectations
Shock washed over the glitter-covered youth of America this week when news broke that Ke$ha was heading to rehab for an eating disorder. It was impossible not to notice that she'd lost a significant amount of weight last November, when the video for "Timber" -- her track with Pitbull -- came out and showed her displaying a washboard belly that looked distinctly like it hadn't been fed beer in a long while. Confirmation that something's wrong makes us very sad, indeed -- after all, Ke$ha's the one lady pop-star out there who's supposed to be immune to this nonsense.
The list of young ladies who end up afflicted with anorexia and bulimia because of their showbiz jobs is already very lengthy. In the music industry alone, the casualties are almost constant. Last year, it was Demi Lovato; in 2012, it was Lady Gaga; Amy Winehouse's brother believes her death in 2011 had more to do with bulimia than alcohol or drugs; in 2010, Lily Allen admitted she'd had a problem, in 2007, it was (allegedly) Britney Spears; in 2001, it was Ginger Spice, Geri Halliwell; in 1995, it was Paula Abdul. The list is incredibly long and undoubtedly didn't start with Karen Carpenter, who died of anorexia-related issues in 1983.
It's not difficult to fathom how and why this happens. The pressures on even non-famous women to conform to an unrealistic ideal are both insane and everywhere -- it's how the multi-billion dollar beauty and fashion industries stay in business, after all. So if one considers how much extra pressure famous women are under, it's almost unfathomable. Ke$ha herself told Seventeen magazine in early 2013: "I remember every person who told me I couldn't do something or that I was ugly or too fat. People in the music business were like, 'You're never going to make it.'"
But make it Ke$ha did, and until last year, she was a shiny beacon of self-love and body acceptance, standing out in a sea of perfect pop tarts -- not because she was fat (she never was), but rather because she wasn't afraid to show her flaws and make over-the-top fashion choices. Ke$ha's everywoman quality and be-yourself mantra is exactly where her appeal lies, and it's exactly what young women need to balance out the warped and pervasive "Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels" messages.
Rumors are now swirling that Ke$ha's long-time producer, Dr. Luke, has been putting weight-related pressure on her for years. An unnamed source claimed in a TMZ interview this week that he even went so far as to tell her she "looked like a fucking refrigerator." Of course, we don't know how true any of that "insider" stuff is, but we haven't forgotten how mean people were about some bikini-clad beach photos taken in Australia of her a couple of years ago. Shit was brutal.
Striving to attain a smaller and smaller dress size isn't the only cause of anorexia and bulimia of course -- it has to do with control, too. Women who feel a lack of control over other areas in their lives are particularly susceptible to eating disorders. Given the fact that Ke$ha told Rolling Stone last October that: "What's been put out as [my] singles have just perpetuated a particular image that may or may not be entirely accurate ... I don't want to just continue putting out the same song and becoming a parody of myself. I have so much more to offer than that," it would appear that control might also a factor in her current health issues.
The bottom line is this: the more the music industry only supports thin women, the worse this is going to get. And the more slim, famous, beautiful women develop eating disorders, the more young, non-famous girls and women feel ugly. Because if the hot, adored, rich ones that are looked up to don't feel pretty enough yet, where does that leave everyone else?
We applaud Ke$ha for her openness on this subject and willingness to tackle this problem head on -- and we wish her a speedy and successful recovery. But we also wish so many media outlets weren't so quick to criticize and scrutinize women's bodies. In the age of too much Photoshop, Internet gossip and around-the-clock analysis, as well as with the likes of the always-heinous Fashion Police, things can seem worse than ever when it comes to pressure on females to conform to unreachable standards.
We need Ke$ha now more than ever -- the sooner she's back to her super-confident self, the better.