Ed Sheeran revealed he has “a real eating problem” in his latest profile for Rolling Stone, in which the pop star opened up about insecurities he faces about his body and appearance.
“I’m self-conscious anyway, but you get into an industry where you’re getting compared to every other pop star,” the 32-year-old told the publication. “I was in the One Direction wave, and I’m like, ‘Well, why don’t I have a six pack?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, because you love kebabs and drink beer.’ Then you do songs with Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes. All these people have fantastic figures. And I was always like, ‘Well, why am I so … fat?'”
The “Shape of You” singer revealed a lot about his inner dialogue throughout the interview and pointed to his experience as a “nerd” and an outcast while growing up. He shared that the way he was perceived in primary school continues to have an impact on his self-confidence today.
“I went to a really, really sport-orientated primary school,” he explained. “I had bright red hair, big blue glasses, a stutter. I couldn’t play the sport because I had a perforated eardrum. You’re just singled out for being different at that point. I’ve kind of blocked out a lot of it, but I have a real hang up about that. I think it plays into wanting to be on a stage and have people like you and stuff.”
With fame, those insecurities haven’t gone away. Instead, they’ve been amplified as Sheeran talks about the comparison to other male singers that gained popularity at the same time. “I am quite quote-unquote ‘ordinary-looking.’ I look like someone’s older brother’s mate who came back from college and works in a pizza shop,” he said. “I am a bloke in a T-shirt.”
He also opened up about adapting unhealthy habits in response to that negative body image.
“I found myself doing what Elton [John] talks about in his book — gorging, and then it would come up again,” Sheeran said. Rolling Stone noted that John acknowledged his own behaviors as bulimia. “There’s certain things that, as a man talking about them, I feel mad uncomfortable. I know people are going to see it a type of way, but it’s good to be honest about them. Because so many people do the same thing and hide it as well.”
Sheeran touched on the stigma that still surrounds mental health, saying, “People think it’s weird getting a therapist in England.… I think it’s very helpful to be able to speak with someone and just vent and not feel guilty about venting.”
Ultimately, therapy is what has allowed him to recognize and work on his struggles.
“I’m a real binge eater. I’m a binge-everything,” he said. “But I’m now more of a binge exerciser, and a binge dad. And work, obviously.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.