Kelsea Ballerini has opened up about her past struggles while being a teenager as a way to help others who might be in a similar situation. In her new poetry book, Feel Your Way Through, the country singer revealed that she had struggled with an eating disorder when she was a teenager. The now 28-year-old stated, "My parents had just gotten divorced, and I think for me, it was a source of control."
In her poem, "Kangaroo," the country singer wrote, "A boy named Jackson called me 'kangaroo' when I was a freshman in high school ... he explained this new nickname because of my belly and little legs." The singer revealed that up until the age of 18 she had battled bulimia, took several diet pills, and worked out excessively until she sought help after passing out numerous times. Telling PEOPLE about her relationship with her own body, she noted, "It's a journey, and it's never-ending."
Feel Your Way Through: A Book of Poetry
These days the singer is in a better mindset, but she revealed that she still struggles with body image issues at times. Ballerini stated, "There are still days when I revert back to being that 12-year-old, and I have to catch myself, and hold myself accountable to the work I've done. I've re-calibrated what it means to me to just look in the mirror and just be like, 'Man, I'm healthy. I'm strong. I have good breath support to do my job well.' Those are things that matter to me now, rather than: 'I look skinny in a dress.'"
She also reveals that it's a constant struggle, especially while attending award shows and performing on stage. She remembered one incident back in 2015 after her performance on Today where her image was a main topic. She recalled, "I saw an article pop up and it said, 'Ballerini debuts baby bump. I reverted back to that 12-year-old version of me, but thought: 'Either you're going to get triggered by this all the time, or you're going to get to a point where you're okay enough to look past it."
The country star, who was recently on tour with the Jonas Brothers, did want her fans to know that she is now in a much healthier spot. She stated, "... and I'm much more gentle with how I talk to myself and my body."
She continued, "I don't work out to get skinny, I work out to be healthy. I don't eat a salad to be skinny, I eat a salad to be healthy. I've re-calibrated what it means to me to just look in the mirror and just be like, 'Man, I'm healthy. I'm strong. I have good breath support to do my job well.' Those are things that matter to me now, rather than: 'I look skinny in a dress.'"
The country singer, who won her first two CMA Awards earlier this month, stated that she is now comfortable opening up about her eating disorders, hoping to shed light on the issue and help those who have struggled with it in the past.
She stated, "I've always presented myself as a very happy-go-lucky, glittery person ... but there's more. It took me some time to feel bold enough and confident enough to share my true self. When you're able to talk about things, you either are going to feel shame about it and you're going to keep it hidden, or you're going to air it out and be vulnerable and connect with people and take the sting away from it and heal together. And I think that's just the better option for me at this point in my life. So that's why I air out a couple of my dark secrets in this book."
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