Zayn Malik recently released his self-titled memoir, Zayn. In his book, he talks in depth about his personal life, a side of Zayn that most of his fans have never heard about before.
Amongst his success, he talks about his experience with crippling anxiety and an eating disorder. But his eating disorder was not caused by what you might think. Most of the time, eating disorders are attributed to lack self confidence and body image, but Zayn's was not.
Zayn explains that he would go without eating for days at a time. But it had nothing to do with his body image. It gave him a feeling of control. While everything else in his life seemed to be out of his control, Zayn overcompensated by controlling his intake of food.
In his mind, Zayn had very little control over his life at the time. The one thing he was absolutely in control of was food. And he took that control to the extreme. In his words, "I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did."
As someone who has experienced the same lack-of-control feeling, it comforts me that Zayn has brought this issue to light. Like I said earlier, most eating disorders that we hear about are caused by factors such as body image and self-confidence. Our society falls short of recognizing the other contributing factors to these debilitating illnesses.
My entire life, I have been a perfectionist, and in high school my perfectionism reached its all-time high. If I didn't excel in my classes, I considered myself a failure. Even a B wasn't good enough in my eyes.
My senior year, things started to spiral out of my control. Close family members fell ill, college applications were due; I didn't have the slightest idea where my life was headed. That feeling of not having control over major aspects of my life was unbearable. Just like Zayn, I began to take control of my life through my consumption of food (or lack thereof).
I'd lie to my friends, family, and coworkers about what I had eaten on a day-to-day basis. When I did eat, I would just grab a granola bar to tame the feeling of hunger for a little while. But that constant feeling of hunger gave me satisfaction that I had gained control of something in my life.
It took me a while to recognize that what I was doing to my body was not healthy. Even after coming to grips with my lack of healthy eating habits, I still felt alone.
I never really thought that anyone else felt the same way I did. It wasn't until a few days ago when Zayn spoke out about his struggles that I realized that there are others who have experienced a similar reality. His testimony brings to light another side of eating disorders that society doesn't always address.
It's been four years since I've stopped controlling my intake of food, and I am happier and healthier than ever. I can't thank Zayn Malik enough for speaking out about an issue that is so close to my heart. And I want all those suffering from eating disorders to know that it can and will get better.