National Eating Disorders Association

Unfound Beauty: An Interview with Singer/Songwriter Beccs

Stephanie Padich, Communications Intern

Becca Gastfriend, better known as beccs, is a singer/songwriter who released her EP, Unfound Beauty, on September 21st. The EP focuses on beccs’ personal experience with an eating disorder and revolves around themes of recovery, self-doubt, and healing. Originally from Boston, beccs is a Brooklyn-based musician who specializes in piano and creates music with an alternative and soulful style. Through her music and jaw-dropping vocals, she encourages her listeners to be vulnerable and self-aware, and helps normalize personal pains and desires. Check out our recent inspiring and insightful interview with her below!

Stephanie Padich: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your own personal experience struggling with/overcoming an eating disorder? 

Becca Gastfriend: I remember coming back from sleepaway camp and fat shaming my own mother for putting on a few pounds. After that, I developed anorexia probably when I was 15 while I was away at theater camp. I got really excited about this new ordered and structured way of eating. I got a lot of compliments that strengthened the disordered mind and I got really sick. I also was really depressed because I had no fuel in my body. When I went into treatment, I was not treated in the most comprehensive way, so I isolated and dissociated a lot. 

In regards to overcoming my eating disorder, I still consider myself in recovery. It’s hard because you can’t escape food. Addiction with food is family, culture, body image, pleasure, guilt…intellectually I understood what I needed to do to get better, but it’s harder to actually do it. A big part of deciding to recover for me was realizing that my passion for other things was building and my eating disorder was a detriment to that. 

SP: We know you use music as a tool for creative expression. Do you think creative expression is imperative to the healing process for those suffering from mental illness? In what ways?

BG: Yeah, I think it’s hugely important. I’m in a therapy group, and someone once said, “Recovery is about taking up space and using your voice.” With an addiction, we are finding any tool we can not to feel. That connection to myself I can get from writing is far more powerful than any urge I have to self-harm and do other self-destructive behaviors. In my recovery, it was choosing between binging/purging or sitting down at the piano. Even though I no longer do those behaviors, I still need that outlet. It’s a means of survival for me. 

SP: Your new album, Unfound Beauty, focuses on themes of recovery, self-doubt, and healing. Through your own personal life experience, what have you learned about these themes, especially in regards to your struggle with an eating disorder?

BG: When it comes to self-doubt, I learned to give the eating disorder less and less power. In my recovery, I found ways of re-directing my energy. I realized if one thought isn’t serving me, what can I do to change it to serve me? I also learned that recovery takes time and that self-care is number one for recovery. I still have ways to go in my recovery.

It’s funny that the cool thing is to not sleep. Sleeping is so important in recovery because it’s giving your body what it needs. Eating disorders separate the mind from the body. It’s a disorder that creates disconnect from the two.

SP: When you were in treatment for an eating disorder you wrote a song titled “Therapy.” Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning behind the song? 

BG: The meaning of the song started out quite literal. I was in residential treatment, there was a piano, and I wrote the opening lyrics, “baby I need some therapy.” When I was working on “Therapy” at the studio, I let it open-up at the end. I started belting the lyrics. 

After I finished the song, I realized that the act of writing it was my therapy. The music video shows me compulsively writing dark thoughts in black ink, as if the thoughts were metastasizing, giving them power. Then, the video shows me purging ink… a way of channeling that violence into something else…an expression…an outlet. 

Also, (referring to the song's meaning) I realized that if I am the source of my own destruction, then I am also the source of my own healing and that has been the most empowering thing in my recovery so far. 

SP: Your EP is titled Unfound Beauty and through this album, you talk about your struggle to find your own “unfound beauty.” Can you tell us what “unfound beauty” means to you and how it relates to your audience? 

BG: The song’s meaning has really evolved over time from when I first wrote it. I actually didn’t know what “unfound beauty” meant when I first wrote the song. Now, looking at it through an objective lens, I was mistaken in using the male gaze to measure my self-worth. I realized “unfound beauty” isn’t really about beauty. It’s about intimacy and exclusiveness with yourself…dancing naked in your room at night, lathering your body with lotion, looking at yourself in the mirror until you’re okay with it, letting yourself fall asleep at night…

“Unfound beauty” is coming home to yourself, your body, and letting your body be your home. “Unfound beauty” is on the brink of self-love because it’s still unfound. It’s realizing you have the ability to self-love. 

SP: Other than music, what other ways do you practice self-care in your recovery process? 

BG: Moving is a big thing for me because I can easily feel disconnected from my body. I move by going on runs, dancing with random people, taking dance classes, and doing yoga. Another form of self-care for me is having role models…finding the types of people that are really anchoring, grounding, and restorative. Other ways I practice self-care are letting myself fall asleep in a positive way and being patient with myself in my recovery because I experience a lot of highs and lows. 

SP: In your EP, you allude to being at battle with yourself and learning to overcome that. How has practicing self-acceptance helped you in your healing process and why do you think self-acceptance is important? 

BG: Going back to the highs and lows I often experience, my music is pretty dynamic. I grew up in a community and a family with a different lifestyle and definition of success than I have and what’s healthy for me. I felt like I grew up fighting against myself in a lot of ways. I am a messy, chaotic person and the way I become grounded and connected to myself has taken a really long time for me to figure out, but has channeled into something beautiful. Self-acceptance is the first step to being able to listen to yourself and your body and for that reason it’s so important. 

Some people’s understanding of recovery is all or nothing. I think that has so many advantages, but other times, for me, recovery is not like that. It’s confusing and unclear and it’s uncertain. Accepting that there will be setbacks allows me to be more forgiving toward myself and aware of habits I have translated that into seemingly normal behaviors. I really want to work on those still. It requires self-acceptance to see that and address those behaviors.

SP: It’s so awesome how your music is reaching so many audiences! How does it feel to be an influential voice in the movement fighting eating disorders and poor body image?

BG: It’s really empowering and invigorating to be able to reach these people. I always felt a kindred bond to the people I met in treatment. When I sat down to write music during my recovery, I would think of them and the collective healing I shared with them. I am using my voice right now, not engaging in my disorder, and maybe one day this can help someone like me. 

At the same time, it’s hard because the stronger in my recovery I get, the louder my eating disorder comes knocking on the door, and when I think about how long it has taken me to get to this point, it really reminds me of why I am here and why I committed to getting better. I feel really strong in that place, but there are bad days, and that’s when self-acceptance comes in. I have to remind myself that I am doing this for myself. Being honest, I do have days when I struggle and pretending to feel okay is serving no one. 

SP: What advice do you have for women out there currently struggling with body image issues, eating disorders, or disordered eating?  

BG: I really think that being healthy and practicing self-care toward yourself is the new sexy. Maybe that’s what my brand is about. Something that the doctors and therapists don’t say and won’t tell you and something that is really paramount in my recovery is being a feminist regardless of gender. I believe that eating disorders are a big response to gender roles for women, patriarchy, what is means to be a man (because not only women are affected by EDs), taking up space, using your voice, sleeping, and not giving anyone more power than they deserve over your thoughts and actions. At the end of the day, no one matters more than you!

Be sure to check out beccs’ official “Therapy” music video on YouTube and to listen to her EP for free on IMPOSE.