National Eating Disorders Association
Blog

Zayn Malik Bravely Reveals His Struggle with an Eating Disorder

Diana Denza, Communications Associate

Millions of fans know Zayn Malik as one-fifth of One Direction, the multiplatinum boy band that took over the world (basically). After breaking out as a solo artist in 2015 and debuting his own hit studio album this year, Malik is now speaking publicly about his painful struggle with an eating disorder during his time in One Direction.

An excerpt from Zayn, the 23-year-old’s new autobiography, reads: “Something I've never talked about in public before, but which I have come to terms with since leaving the band, is that I was suffering from an eating disorder…”

“I'd just go for days—sometimes two or three days straight—without eating anything at all. It got quite serious, although at the time I didn't recognize it for what it was.”

“I didn't feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”

Malik says he feels “great” today and we applaud him for opening up about his past struggles. An estimated 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life in the United States alone, but many of them don’t get the help they need because of the dangerous stereotype that eating disorders only affect young women. 

Many boys and men suffer in silence because they are ashamed to seek help for a “girls' disease” and even medical professionals often miss the warning signs of an eating disorder, simply because their patient is male. But an A-lister like Malik could inspire fans who are battling disordered eating to get help and show that all kinds of people are affected, regardless of gender —and to us, that makes him a role model. 

Image: Javierosh, Flickr