When Zayn published his autobiography last year, he bravely admitted that he had been struggling with disordered eating and anxiety, and that it had been deeply affecting his career. In June, his anxiety had become so severe that he had to cancel a show, something for which he apologized on Twitter. In a new interview
with the Sunday Times Style, Malik opened up in greater detail about his afflictions, and how he’s since overcome them.
“It wasn’t specifically an eating disorder,” he told Sunday Times, even though he previously shared in his book that he would go days without eating. “It was a control thing. Every area of my life was so regimented and controlled, it was the one area where I could say, ‘No, I’m not eating that.’ Once I got over the control, the eating just came back into place super naturally,” he said.
But eating disorders have long been associated with a need for control, first brought to light by psychoanalyst Dr. Hilde Bruch in the 1970s. In her book The Golden Cage, she theorized that eating disorders were a means of establishing autonomy and order in one’s life when it may feel as though all other aspects of life have become unmanageable, which sounds like it may have been an underlying theme in Malik’s life at the time.
Going public with his struggles the first time around made headline news, and sparked a very important conversation surrounding mental health. Eating disorders are often associated with women, but in the United States alone, they affect at least 10 million men, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. “People saw strength in that, and they didn’t seem to expect it from a guy, but they expect it from a female, which to me is crazy,” he said.
“We’re all human. People are often afraid to admit difficulties, but I don’t believe that there should be a struggle with anything that’s the truth.”