Zayn Malik Kinda, Sorta Opens Up About an Eating Disorder & We're Happy He Did

Zayn Malik talks eating disorder

Conversations concerning certain matters -- menstruation, depression, and eating disorders, to name a few -- are usually ones that are geared toward and about women. While this sometimes makes sense (men sadly do not menstruate), most times it contributes to the dangerous notion that mental health issues are gender-specific and taboo for men to discuss. Maybe that's why it's a big deal that Zayn Malik is talking about having an eating disorder.

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The 23-year-old musician and former One Direction member opens up about the matter in his new autobiography, Zayn -- recalling how ill he appeared to be in pictures from November 2014:

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 .... It wasn't as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that .... I'd just go for days -- sometimes two or three days straight -- without eating anything at all.

Whether it was conscious or not, these widely circulated excerpts from the book paint the picture of an eating disorder. He went on to add:

I had lost so much weight I had become ill. The workload and the pace of life on the road put together with the pressures and strains of everything going on within the band had badly affected my eating habits.

Zayn also cites that during this period in his life, he felt he needed to be in control of something and that "food was something [he] could control."

More from CafeMom: 7 Truths About Eating Disorders Every Parent Needs to Know

But during a recent interview with the Associated Press, he somewhat backpedaled, claiming that he doesn't think he had an eating disorder since he wasn't officially diagnosed, and that with his busy schedule he would forget to eat. He told the AP: "It was just more down to losing track of, you know, actually eating and being super busy and getting caught up with other things that 17- or 18-year-olds do, which normally entails them going out, drinking, or partying, so it was a mixture of everything."

But his statement about control makes it difficult for us to buy his now-downplayed version of things. 

It's out now ! #ZAYNBOOK

A photo posted by Zayn Malik (@zayn) on

While I commend him for broaching the subject in his book, I think his more recent claim that it wasn't in fact an eating disorder is sad and a little disappointing. I am not disappointed in him per se, but rather in societal norms that most likely made him feel that he must now downplay it. It sort of goes to show how men often feel embarrassed or ashamed because of the stigma attached to males who have eating disorders, while women are more often encouraged to seek help.

More from CafeMom: 15 Celebs Who've Opened Up About Anxiety & How It's Affected Their Lives

This is because we, as a society, don't make it a point to talk to everyone about this matter. We single women out at a young age and make all parties involved feel like it's a girl thing when it's not. 

For a while now Zayn has been open about his battle with anxiety, and we're just hoping that one day he feels secure enough in his past struggle with an eating disorder to advocate for other fans -- for other men -- who may unfortunately share the experience. 

Because, like it or not, he is a role model for many, and if he's able to look back and openly reflect, then I believe he can help someone else who may be fighting the same battle (consciously or unconsciously). 

We're grateful that he has begun to discuss the topic -- even if he no longer wants to. At the very least it has helped us to realize how important it is to have unbiased discussions on topics that impact all of us alike -- man or woman.

 

Image via PC-NWM-MJN/Splash News

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