Florence Welch on recovering from anorexia: ‘Anorexic thinking is still part of my life’

Florence + the Machine just released their new album, Dance Fever. I’m a big fan of the band and of Florence Welch, the lead singer. She is, to me, a throwback of the ‘70s leader singers like Stevie Nicks and maybe even a little Grace Slick. Florence is not all fairy dust and prairie dresses though. Florence has been through some sh-t and she’s talked about it openly. She covers the latest issue of Rolling Stone UK and she spoke about her longtime battle with anorexia and how her disordered thinking still affects her in many different ways (I’m also including some quotes from a recent Vogue interview too).

The long-term recovery from an eating disorder: “I think part of it is long-term recovery from eating disorders. So much of that is rejecting nourishment – ‘I don’t deserve to eat, I don’t deserve to feel comfortable.’ Anorexic thinking is still part of my life, even though the anorexia itself isn’t.”

This manifests in her personal life: “And so, with emotional intimacy, which is kind of like being fed, sometimes you can be like, ‘No, that’s too much, I don’t need it.'” She instead finds it easier to be vulnerable with the world, rather than a potential significant other. “Being intimate on such a grand scale is such a safe way to do it. But actual intimacy, actual commitment? I really struggle with it. You can spend your whole life craving love, and when someone gives you real wholesome love, loving the real you, you’re like, ‘Why would you do that? I’m disgusting!'”

She’s “afraid” to have kids: “It seems like the bravest thing in the world to have children. It’s the ultimate measure of faith and of letting go of control. I feel like to have a child and to let that amount of love in… I’ve spent my life trying to run away from these big feelings. I think I’ve had a stilted emotional immaturity just through having been in addiction and eating disorders for years.”

She has a “really complicated relationship” with her body. The interviewer noted that Welch is “finally comfortable in it, but the idea of the change it would undergo [in pregnancy] is one she finds terrifying”.

[From Yahoo UK & The Independent]

I genuinely appreciate how real she’s being here. She’s showing just how she still lives with those same thoughts of unworthiness, of not being “good enough” to eat or be loved, and it’s very real. Some of that will heal over time, some of that needs to be dealt with in therapy and doing the work of unlearning, but some of it will probably always be with her. She’s 35 years old, by the way. And she’s a recovering alcoholic, and she’s talked about how difficult it was to stay on the wagon during the pandemic.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, cover courtesy of Rolling Stone UK.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

17 Responses to “Florence Welch on recovering from anorexia: ‘Anorexic thinking is still part of my life’”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Wiglet Watcher, says:

    It does get easier to manage. When You learn more tools and get better people in your life it becomes manageable. Without having those support systems it’s incredibly easy to let yourself slip back. The lies of addiction is they feel welcoming and comforting, but they’re slowly ending you. I hope she stays on the wagon.

    • liz says:

      I agree with this, at least in my case. For me it was exercise bulimia. 35 years later, I can see when I’m starting to slip back into unhealthy patterns before they get dangerous. Having my husband, who loves me exactly as I am makes it easier than living with my mother (who still comments on my weight every time I see her).

      I was able to teach my child healthy eating habits and pattern that behavior for them. That might be one of the things I am most proud of as a parent – I didn’t let my problems with food and body image get passed along to my child.

      I love Florence’s music and I truly hope she can continue in her recovery and have the healthy life she wants.

  2. The Rainbow says:

    I love Florence.
    I like her voice, her fairy vibe, her presence on stage.
    She still is in a vulnerable stage in her life and I feel her.
    I am surprised that she is only 35, I thought she was over 40.

  3. Lauren says:

    This interview makes me love her even more. I have a few people in my life who have been dealing with this for decades.

  4. smegmoria says:

    Her music has definitely gotten me through some tough times. Thank you Florence.

  5. Louise says:

    Wow, I’m grateful that she’s talking so openly about her ongoing struggle. It’s so helpful to people going through it and those around them. One of my loved ones has struggled with anorexia and disordered eating for more than 20 years.

  6. Eleonor says:

    I love Florence, and Hunger is one of my forever song.

  7. Bettyrose says:

    That’s exactly how I feel about having children (and why I don’t). It’s the bravest thing in the world, except for when it’s the most irresponsible. I have the utmost respect for parents … except for the ones who had no business having children. And I have the same respect for those who made the decision that parenthood isn’t for them.

  8. K says:

    I totally understand how she feels. Having kids is a brave choice on every level. And I was always terrified I would ruin any daughter I had because of my eating disorder.

  9. lunchcoma says:

    That was a truly interesting interview. I’m I recovery from bulimia and alcoholism, so I can relate. The thinking gets easier to manage with time (except during times like the pandemic when it doesn’t), but it’s hard to completely get your brain out of patterns that used to provide it with some comfort, no matter how maladaptive the responses were.

    I also relate to the comments about kids. I didn’t really grow up until my late 30s, and it’s still kind of dicey whether I can care for myself, let alone others. I ultimately think everyone is better off if I focus on being an aunt and having other kinds of relationships with the next generation.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Yes, it got easier for me over time, but I still feel “the voice” of my eating disorders creep into my mind from time to time. There was security & familiarity there that was harder for me to let go of than the behaviors themselves. There was a time when that was my closest “relationship,” which I think is part of what she’s getting at with the difficulty with emotional intimacy.

      I wish you & all the other CBers well on your respective journeys with recovery.

    • bettyrose says:

      @Lunchcoma – That’s me exactly. I put my parents in the category of probably shouldn’t have had kids. I have severe anxiety stemming from multigenerational trauma and the emotional neglect I suffered at the hands of parents not mature enough for that level of responsibility. Then, in my early adulthood the universe decided to hand me some internal injuries that would have made a full term pregnancy very risky. Fortunately I was blessed to live through the gilded era of access to reproductive health services, which has only fueled my resolve to fight for that access for all future generations. Parenthood is a very important role for those who choose it.

  10. AmyB says:

    I always appreciate and admire when celebrities share their personal experiences, such as this. It just lets others know that yes, even with all the fame, money and advantages, you can still suffer from these debilitating addictions and mental health disorders. I suffered from anorexia for almost two decades, and I can honestly say, that is not a part of my life now. I spent a good portion of that time in very intensive psychotherapy too, working out the past trauma, and issues at the heart of my eating disorder, and my depression. I still take medication for my depression, and while I am not immune to being critical of my body at times, I would never EVER be self-destructive to it again. I love and accept myself now and I have moved past all the painful, and difficult things that drove me to that in the first place. I don’t think, I don’t deserve to eat, or I am not worthy, EVER. I do my best to take care of myself, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    It does get easier, but it takes work and patience. Having my daughter (when I was 30) actually helped me. It wasn’t completely easy gaining the weight but seeing how my body was able to give birth to my beautiful healthy daughter, when I was told at one point, I would never be able to have kids because of all the starving/excessive exercising I was doing. I didn’t gain a ton of weight, just the normal 25/30 lbs. It all came off pretty much once I stopped breast feeding, and I felt back to myself again. The whole process was truly cathartic for me, but I recognize that is not everyone’s experience! And if someone can honestly admit, having children isn’t the best decision for them, I applaud and respect their self-awareness!

    My heart and prayers always go out to my fellow sufferers of this disease! And I just want to say, there is hope xoxo

  11. SIde Eye says:

    I love what she says here and love this interview for how open she is with her struggles. That cover takes my breath away. That shade of red hair is absolutely glorious – especially when paired with greens and pinks. I hope she continues to stay healthy.

  12. AC says:

    Love Florence and her music! She’s a real one! Take one day at a time!

  13. Samab says:

    I’ve bene struggling with anorexia through my teenage yrars.I’m fourty today and still have real difficulties to judge my body and my weight.My eyes doesn ‘t see the reality,what’s in the mirror… it’s crazy.

  14. jferber says:

    Samab, Happy birthday. I wish you peace and healing in your continuing journey.