Kelsea Ballerini Struggled With Bulimia as a Teen: ‘For Me, It Was a Source of Control’
In her new book of poetry, Feel Your Way Through, Kelsea Ballerini explores some of the darker, more intimate parts of her past, and among them is her complicated and ever-evolving relationship with her body.
One poem, called "Kangaroo," delves into her struggles with body image when she was a young teenager.
"A boy named Jackson called me 'kangaroo' when I was a freshman in high school," she writes. "...He explained this new nickname because of my belly and little legs." (quote via People.)
During that time of her life, Ballerini reveals, she battled an eating disorder. In the years that followed, the singer took diet pills, worked out excessively and struggled with bulimia.
"My parents had just gotten divorced, and I think for me, it was a source of control," Ballerini tells People of her experience.
These days, she says she's in a "much healthier spot," though there are still times when she struggles with body image.
"There are still days when I revert back to being that 12-year-old, and I have to catch myself, and hold myself accountable to the work I've done," Ballerini continues. "...I've re-calibrated what it means to me to just look in the mirror and just be like, 'Man, I'm healthy. I'm strong. I have good breath support to do my job well.' Those are things that matter to me now, rather than: 'I look skinny in a dress.'"
But it can be particularly difficult to maintain that healthy outlook as a celebrity, with thousands of people watching — and commenting on — Ballerini's appearance every time she attends an event or plays a show. The singer remembers after one 2015 Today performance, "I saw an article pop up and it said, 'Ballerini debuts baby bump,'" she says.
"I reverted back to that 12-year-old version of me, but thought: 'Either you're going to get triggered by this all the time, or you're going to get to a point where you're okay enough to look past it,'" she goes on to say.
When one fan floated another pregnancy rumor after the 2020 CMA Awards, Ballerini didn't just look past it: She also spoke up in response, explaining specifically why it was inappropriate to make that suggestion.
"I'm sure you mean well, but it's incredibly insensitive to ask or assume if another woman is pregnant," she replied on social media. "I'm not, by the way. Just carrying around my organs. But if I were, I'd want to share that on my own time, when I felt ready. Let's not judge bloat levels on the Internet."
Feel Your Way Through arrived in full on Tuesday (Nov. 16.)
See Country Music's 50 Greatest Love Songs: