Taylor Swift isn't holding anything back in her new Netflix documentary.
In Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Thursday, the "Lover" singer revealed that she struggled with eating disorders in the past. Crediting the paparazzi's intrusive and frequent scrutiny of her appearance with causing her to develop an "unhealthy" relationship with food, she admitted that there were times she'd even "starve" herself.
Her struggle is documented in the "raw and emotionally revealing" film, where Swift is seen being swarmed by a sea of photographers as she leaves her apartment. In a voice over she says, "It's not good for me to see pictures of myself every day." Then, she shared moments where seeing an unflattering image of herself triggered her to lose weight.
"It's only happened a few times, and I'm not in any way proud of it," Swift continued. "A picture of me where I feel like I looked like my tummy was too big, or…someone said that I looked pregnant…and that'll just trigger me to just starve a little bit — just stop eating."
Prior to the film's premiere, Swift had recalled a tabloid story that alleged she was pregnant at 18 because of the structure of her outfit during an interview with Variety.
"I remember how, when I was 18, that was the first time I was on the cover of a magazine," she told the outlet. "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!'" she continued. "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."
This idea of being punished and rewarded also translated to the way she looked at food. She added, "And my relationship with food was exactly the same psychology that I applied to everything else in my life: If I was given a pat on the head, I registered that as good. If I was given a punishment, I registered that as bad."
Still on the topic of her disorder and the media's negative effect on her mental health, Swift also discussed how challenging it was to be candid about her body image struggles, noting that she was initially reluctant to share that piece of her with the world.
"I didn't know if I was going to feel comfortable with talking about body image and talking about the stuff I've gone through in terms of how unhealthy that's been for me — my relationship with food and all that over the years," she explained. "But the way that [director] Lana [Wilson] tells the story, it really makes sense. I'm not as articulate as I should be about this topic because there are so many people who could talk about it in a better way. But all I know is my own experience."
"I think I've never really wanted to talk about that before, and I'm pretty uncomfortable talking about it now," she continued. "But in the context of every other thing that I was doing or not doing in my life, I think it makes sense" to have it in the film."
Taylor Swift: Miss Americana will be available to stream starting January 31.