Amy Winehouse: Her Eating Disorder

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The entertainment industry is wrought with numerous examples of personalities that were extinguished too soon due to some tragic situation. Whether its death by accident, suicide or another situation; losing some of these stars too soon creates massive amounts of pain for their fans. Amy Winehouse is one such person who died at the young age of 27 in 2011. While some aspects of her death and legacy received a lot of coverage, one aspect that did not get as much coverage was the idea of her eating disorder. Kayleigh Hughes wrote a compelling piece for The Pitch that dives into the stars struggle with eating and how the role it played in her life and her eventual death. When reviewing her piece it is easy to agree with the writer that this is one area of Winehouse’s life and death that was not given the critical coverage needed, even if you do not agree with the overall role it played in her death. 

Hughes goes through a number of efforts to convince the writers exactly the reason why this aspect of her life didn’t get the coverage that it deserved. Immediately into the piece, she pushes the dangers that come with eating disorders and how they are especially dangerous within the entertainment industry. “Disordered eating is so normalized in our culture, especially in celebrity culture, that few people even acknowledge that it’s not healthy, and very potentially fatal.”1 This is a compelling starting point, albeit not entirely true to the current climate of what occurs within the entertainment industry and overall throughout society.  

Yes, there is an obscure issue with the presentation of body image in the entertainment media and society as a whole. Women especially, deal with a multitude of images that are bombarding their everyday life about how their bodies should look on a day to day basis. Hughes jumps into the idea that these struggles played a part in the situation that led to Winehouse’s eventual dependence on drugs, which leads to her death. Hughes points towards the documentary that was based on the singer’s life. Using some footage from the documentary, Hughes talks about Winehouse’s early struggles with weight and the idea that she saw herself as fat and ugly, even though she was very thin – even at that point in her life. What is interesting is that Hughes points towards the way her mother dismisses Winehouse’s mention of the problems, to a situation that potentially went uncovered by even her biggest fans. 

Hughes continues to remind the reader that Winehouse had a true struggle with eating that was ignored by the public and the media at the time of her death. For example, she mentions a scene in the documentary that chronicles some individuals speaking a moment in time in which Winehouse ate a large meal, but then went to the bathroom (as it would seem) for an extended period of time and returning with a smeared face of makeup. Bringing up this scene immediately points towards an example that the reader can lean on to say “perhaps the writer really is right.” Using this example as evidence is a critical practice that Hughes uses throughout her piece as she doesn’t hesitate to bring up examples to support every point that she presents throughout the way. 

Another strong point of Hughes’s work is that she expressly talks about the dangers that are attributed to eating disorders. After going into depth to explain how Winehouse truly had an issue that was widely ignored by those close to her, and unknown to the public that adored her, the writer turns to talk about why this was such a danger that would help push her towards the early death. For example, the following line pushes the exact danger that Winehouse was in: 

Eating disorders, for the most part, are highly contained and easily managed means of utterly ruining oneself. A person with bulimia nervosa can carry on bingeing and purging while otherwise maintaining a high level of functionality. The same goes of those with anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and purging disorder. Bingeing, purging, or starving are highly unlikely to put you into debt, and leave you unintoxicated and able to carry out the tasks of a job, and tend to the demands of a relationship and daily chores of life. These facts make it very easy for the friends, family, and colleagues of those with an eating disorder to overlook the disease, as the footage and interviews we see in Amy remind us.2

The writer consistently pushes forward the struggle that Winehouse has within her personal life. The “goal” per se of this piece was to capture the danger that Winehouse was in, well before she reached the platform of stardom that helped her damage her life beyond repair. She consistently references various points and what are the numerous examples of how this situation was overlooked, which is a frequent tone that Hughes uses as a problem that all those who deal with body issues and eating orders face. Hughes references the upbringing that Winehouse experienced and the lack of guidance to help her through the struggle. By the time she reaches adulthood and experienced her first overdose, she was already in a position that didn’t allow her the opportunity to defeat this problem. 

To say that Amy Winehouse was a troubled soul would be an extreme understatement. Her music and even her voice, captured the pain that the singer seemed to experience at every turn of her life. When that life ended in 2011, there were immediate speculations that she lost her battle with drugs. While this turned out to be true, Hughes makes a valid argument that the struggle she faced with eating disorders from a young age helped put her in a situation that made it very difficult for her to defeat her dependence on drugs. When reviewing the way the author carefully crafted her piece, she is very successful in presenting her side of the argument and convincing readers.

End Notes

1. Kayleigh Hughes, “We Need To Talk About Amy Winehouse’s Eating Disorder and Its Role In Her Death” Pitchfork, 2015, http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/861-we-need-to-talk-about-amy-winehouses-eating-disorder-and-its-role-in-her-death

2. Hughes, “We Need To Talk About Amy Winehouse’s Eating Disorder andIts Role In Her Death,” para. 8

Bibliography

Hughes, Kayleigh. “We Need To Talk About Amy Winehouse’s Eating Disorder and Its Role In Her Death.’ Pitchfork, 2015, http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/861-we-need-to-talk-about-amy-winehouses-eating-disorder-and-its-role-in-her-death/