jackie evancho eating disorder

America’s Got Talent” star Jackie Evancho is opening up about her struggles with an illness that millions of Americans deal with every year: Eating disorders.

“To this day, it’s hard for me to admit I have an eating disorder,” Evancho, 18, said in an interview with “Access Hollywood.”

That’s a common sentiment shared between people who struggle with any kind of mental illness. The feeling of isolation and not wanting to discuss problems with food is something most people don’t understand. Sometimes, they’re even dismissive about it instead of accepting what a real and overwhelming problem it is for sufferers.

“There was a lot of hiding, a lot of sitting in my room alone and thinking and crying,” she said. “I wanted to seem like that strong role model. I wanted to be perfect.”

Evancho explained how her feelings and thoughts about her body began to be negative as she entered puberty. She also spoke about how certain personality traits, like perfectionism, can lead people down dangerous roads when they strive to be what they view as perfect — an unattainable goal in reality.

“I’m just a perfectionist at heart, and that includes myself and what I see I am. I want it to be perfect to me, and unfortunately, I can’t do that.”

Jackie Evancho debut on “America’s Got Talent”

Adding to the internal pressure she put on herself to be perfect, Evancho also believes being in the public eye at such a young age added external pressure.

“I do think that growing up in the spotlight, being a kid, being surrounded by all these adult women who are beautiful and slender and tall was really difficult for me because I wanted to be that and I wasn’t. And then I started to hit puberty and I got my womanly curves and everything, and it was, for lack of a better word, triggering.”

“It wasn’t happening the way I had envisioned it. And me being a perfectionist, I was trying to, as the process is occurring, trying to switch things around and tweak it, and as a result, I ended up developing issues from it, from trying to control everything,” she explained.

Being a strong role model often means admitting your faults and struggles. Asking for help doesn’t make someone weak. Hopefully, girls and boys who might be struggling or starting down the same road will feel less alone hearing Jackie Evancho discuss what she’s gone through.

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