05

Feb

‘American Idol’ Alum Lauren Alaina Talks Overcoming Eating Disorder

Lauren Alaina

Pop and country singer Lauren Alaina, 22, has gone public with her private struggles on her revealing second album, Road Less Traveled. “I really feel like this album is my story,” the Georgia native told People.

“I had a lot of things change in my personal life,” she said. “My parents got divorced and they both remarried other people. My dad’s an alcoholic and he went through rehab. I had an eating disorder that I overcame. I had vocal cord surgery. I live country songs every single day of my life, so thank goodness I decided that was my passion!”

Alaina told Billboard that “when my dad first went into rehab, that was the first time I even acknowledged the fact that he had an alcohol problem because he kept the issue a secret. When he made that step, it was so brave of him, and it changed my life forever because it made me want to be brave and accept who I am and where I come from.”

At age 16, she came in second on the 2011 season of American Idol. Already feeling insecure about her weight, she was floored when a blogger nicknamed her “Miss Piggy.” She became bulimic and almost flushed her budding career down the toilet. She suddenly dropped 40 pounds.

“I think people kind of wondered how I was losing all of that weight,” she told The Tennessean last September. “At the time, I was so sick, but I still wanted to be smaller. I’m 5’ 8” and was wearing a size 0.” She developed severe vocal cord polyps and her hair was falling out in clumps. A doctor finally got through to her—if she didn’t stop throwing up, she would not be able to sing for much longer.

Now, Alaina’s career is on fire. She is starring in her first film—also titled Road Less Traveled. “I am so excited to be doing a movie,” said Alaina. “This is a whole new world for me. I’m learning so much every day. We have such an awesome cast and crew and I can’t wait for everyone to see this new side of me.”

The singer has plenty of loving support from her family—it was her mother who’d urged her to come clean about the eating disorder—and watching her father overcome his alcoholism has been an inspiration.

Now, Alaina is sharing what she has learned through recovery. “Dress sizes can’t define,” she sings. “Don’t be afraid, take the road less traveled.”