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Kesha Reveals Social Media Bullies Contributed to Her Eating Disorder

In an openhearted Teen Vogue essay, Kesha speaks out about her struggles with anxiety, depression and an eating disorder. The artist also delves into how social-media bullying can seriously affect a person’s self-care and self-esteem.

Mean-spirited messaging on social media is a chronic problem, and celebs are not exempt. “When I think about the kind of bullying I dealt with as a child and teen, it seems almost quaint compared with what goes on today,” admits Kesha.

“The amount of body-shaming and baseless slut-shaming online makes me sick,” she continues. “I know from personal experience how comments can mess up somebody’s self-confidence and sense of self-worth. I have felt so unlovable after reading cruel words written by strangers who don’t know a thing about me.”

And Kesha is not alone. A survey of 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 59 conducted by Glamour found that 19 percent of them feel more insecure in real life as a result of online harassment. Meanwhile, 19 percent admitted to posting offensive comments about celebrities.

The musician says that the bullying and her accompanying anxiety and eating disorder became a vicious cycle: “When I compared myself to others, I would read more mean comments, which only fed my anxiety and depression.” She says that the “sick irony” was that she kept hearing how much better she looked when she was at “the lowest point” of her life. “I knew I was destroying my body with my eating disorder,” she says, “but the message I was getting was that I was doing great.”

What’s more, cyberbullying is not the only social-media behavior that fuels body-image issues and accompanying disorders. A study carried out by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia suggests a link between #fitspiration Instagram posts and eating disorders and compulsive exercise.

Kesha says that she’s becoming a cyberbullying activist of sorts. She spoke on the topic at SXSW with Refinery29, saying, “Trolls are only powerful if you let them be. Most of the time, I think trolls are just insecure people projecting their own insecurities and problems onto others.”

She says that despite being an emotional person, she tries to remind herself that trolls are just people “hiding behind a screen, saying things they would never say to your face.” She also decreases the power of cyberbullies by ignoring them and limiting the time she spends on social media.

And Kesha’s not the only star to champion social-media detoxing as a path to better mental health. YouTuber Michelle Phan told Teen Vogue she traveled to places like Egypt and Switzerland on a social-media detox that helped heal her social media-influenced depression.

“It was a digital detox. I reconnected myself back to nature. Nature healed me. Nature reminded me that everything we’ve built around our world that we have today doesn’t really matter,” said Phan.

Kesha ends her Teen Vogue essay on an encouraging note: “With this essay, I want to pass along the message to anyone who struggles with an eating disorder, or depression, or anxiety, or anything else, that if you have physical or emotional scars, don’t be ashamed of them, because they are part of you.”

She says, “Remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. And that no one can take the magic you make.” These are such compassionate (and true) words from a celebrity who has courageously overcome a number of traumatic life events.