Many people think that those suffering from eating disorders are emaciated and constantly running to the bathroom to throw up. But the reality is that eating disorders can be so insidious that no one notices its effects until it’s too late.
In this list, we talk about songs that deal with the many aspects of eating disorders – its physical effects, how it affects others, and how it can completely change someone life (or end it).
If you suffer from an eating disorder or you know someone who does, these songs may help you find more insight into the disease and how it can affect you.
Maria Mena – Eyesore
Let’s start off with a song from an artist who has never shied away from speaking up about her eating disorder. Maria Mena has been known to suffer from an eating disorder, and she expresses her thoughts on her disorder through her music. In her song Eyesore, she sings about how her anorexia gave her a purpose, as if she feels like her worth is based on how much weight she loses.
Lyrics about eating disorders: I want out from under this confining skin
That I so reluctantly live in
My worth is measured solely according to the scale
I am heavy, I feel frail
Superchick – Courage
Courage is a song about a girl’s struggle with anorexia. She tells people around her lies about how she’s just not feeling well or she already ate, but in reality she’s starving herself to feel beautiful. But despite this struggle, she tells herself that she’ll get through the day and through life somehow.
Lyrics about eating disorders: I told another lie today
And I got through this day
No one saw through my games
I know the right words to say
Like “I don’t feel well,” “I ate before I came”
Then someone tells me how good I look
And for a moment, for a moment I am happy
But when I’m alone, no one hears me cry
Mariana’s Trench – Skin and Bones
While many consider being extremely thin as an effect of anorexia, it can also sometimes be the effect of another eating disorder called bulimia. Anorexia is when a person refuses to eat at all, while bulimia is when a person seems to eat normally (or even a lot), but then purges what they eat through vomiting or laxatives. This song by Mariana’s Trench deals with a person’s struggle with bulimia and how it always seems like a good idea to purge, at least to the person suffering from it.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Feeling so easy
Make me skin and bones
I’m always on my knees for you
You break like it’s even
When you’re leaving it thin,
Where the hell have you been?
Queen Adreena – My Silent Undoing
Queen Adreena’s hauntingly high-pitched and frail-sounding voice perfectly captures the emotions in this song about anorexia. My Silent Undoing’s lyrics allow us to visualize what people see in a person with anorexia – from protruding bones to emaciation. In the song, Queen Adreena sings about how she sees anorexia like a wasp in a jar – contained but deadly.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Protruding hips
And skull, and spine
Ribcage cuts a clear outline
All roped up and pinching in
Distorted and disfiguring
The Trews – Ana and Mia
In this song, The Trews address a girl who has both bulimia and anorexia. They sing about her daily struggle with both disorders and how it still manages to keep her beautiful. The song has a powerful message about how some women succumb to the pressure of being beautiful, but it’s actually a slow road to a painful death. Ana and Mia are slang terms for anorexia nervosa and bulimia, respectively.
Lyrics about eating disorders: The pressure’s on, girl you’re gone
You learning how to pretend
No one knows the sickness grows
Following deadly trends
How Ana & Mia stay beautiful all day
Lisa Loeb – She’s Falling Apart
She’s Falling Apart is a song written by Loeb and songwriter Thom Schuyler. Schuyler had somebody in his life who had anorexia, and that’s what prompted him to write a song. It’s aimed particularly at teenage girls who have anorexia and how this can affect their families.
Lyrics about eating disorders: They pull up their chairs to the table
She stares at the food on her plate
At the toast and the butter
Her father and mother, she pushes away
Sonic Youth – Tunic (Song for Karen)
Sonic Youth wrote this song as a tribute to Karen Carpenter from The Carpenters. Karen Carpenter was known to have suffered from anorexia for most of her life, and this is what led to her death. In this song, Sonic Youth sings from Karen’s perspective, imagining that she is happy in heaven as she watches over her loved ones on earth. They imagine that she’s now free from the pain of her disorder.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Dreaming, dreaming of a girl like me
Hey what are you waiting for, feeding, feeding me
I feel like I’m disappearing, getting smaller every day
But I look in the mirror, I’m bigger in every way
Eleanor McEvoy – Sophie
This song first captured audiences when it was posted on YouTube almost 10 years ago. The short film features still images of a lovely Ukrainian girl who wants to become a model. She goes about this by going through extreme diets and watching her weight obsessively. At the end of the video, it shows Sophie finally becoming a model, but it comes at the cost of an eating disorder that she may never shake.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Sophie can not finish her dinner
She says she’s eaten enough
Sophie’s trying to make herself thinner
Says she’s eating too much
And her brother says, “You’re joking,”
And her mother’s heart is broken
Sophie has a hard time coping
And, besides, Sophie’s hoping
Faces without Names – Deadly Beauty
Deadly Beauty is a song that chronicles a young girl’s downward spiral into anorexia. She starts off trying to lose weight when a boy leaves her for another girl. In an effort to become “beautiful” enough to win him back, she doesn’t eat and takes up excessive exercising. She eventually gets professional help, but it doesn’t help her overcome her battle with anorexia. When the girl is 23, she passes away and the singer misses her and hopes she’s finally happy and free.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Skips school, won’t eat, can barely sleep, takes drastic measure
Runs seven miles a day in the sun wearing a sweater
She turns the radio on so no one hears what she’s doing
‘Cause she’s convinced herself he’ll come back to her when she’s perfect
Geri Karlstrom – Starving for Attention
Other mental disorders often come into play when a person suffers from an eating disorder. In Starving for Attention, the singer strives to become “perfect” by starving herself until she has the perfect figure. She thinks this is the only way for others (particularly her parents) to give her affection. The song is obviously a cry for help, as it shows how people with a mental disorder can resort to extreme measures to feel perfect in the eyes of others.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Bones are beautiful
My drug of choice
Striving for perfection
And I’m driven to
Run to you
In the wrong direction
How does that make you feel?
Why can’t I make you see?
The Used – Buried Myself Alive
While some songs on this list tackle eating disorders that are never healed, The Used wrote a more hopeful perspective for these disorders. Buried Myself Alive is about a guy whose girlfriend has left him heartbroken and resorting to puking out whatever he eats. However, in the end he realizes that she’s not worth all this suffering. So when she tells him she wants him back, he doesn’t quickly relent.
Lyrics about eating disorders: I guess it’s okay I puked the day away
I guess it’s better you trapped yourself in your own way
And if you want me back
You’re gonna have to ask
Nicer than that
Manic Street Preachers – 4st 7lb
4 stone and 7 pounds adds to a grand total of 63 pounds, which is said to be the threshold to death – the weight at which no adult human can live. This song describes advanced-stage anorexia, wherein the girl in the song wants so hard to become skinny that she’s starting to disappear. Her anorexia was brought about by the pressure to be thin, as seen in the lines where she thinks top supermodels are taunting her. Unsurprisingly, the song has a very personal origin as the band’s bassist, Nicky Wire, also suffered from the disease.
Lyrics about eating disorders: I choose my choice, I starve to frenzy
Hunger soon passes and sickness soon tires
Legs bend, stockinged I am Twiggy
And I don’t mind the horror that surrounds me
Garbage – Bleed Like Me
Bleed Like Me is actually a song about being able to empathize with others, whatever they may be going through in life. The song starts off with a description of a girl who starves herself to “rid herself of sin.” And it then goes on to describe other people going through their own personal struggles, whether it’s suicidal ideation, drugs, sexual confusion, or alcoholism.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Avalanche is sullen and too thin
She starves herself to rid herself of sin
And the kick is so divine when she sees bones beneath her skin
And she says:
Hey baby can you bleed like me?
C’mon baby can you bleed like me
Silverchair – Ana’s Song
It’s a pattern in most songs to consider Ana as the term for anorexia. And this song is perhaps one of the most famous songs tackling the eating disorder. Daniel Johns, vocalist of Silverchair, wrote this song about his battle with anorexia. In the song, he also makes references to the late Princess Diana, who also suffered from an eating disorder.
Lyrics about eating disorders: And you’re my obsession
I love you to the bones
And Ana wrecks your life
Like an anorexia life
Our Lady Peace – Innocent
Innocent was written about all the people in the world who are suffering – whether it’s because of a physical disease like cancer, a mental disorder like eating disorders, and self-esteem issues. It’s a message to all the people who are suffering that we are all innocent, and that one day the suffering will end.
Lyrics about eating disorders: Oh, Tina’s losing faith in what she knows
Hates her music, hates all of her clothes
Thinks of surgery and a new nose
Every calorie is a war
Eating disorders are no joke. They can lead to countless health problems as well as problems with your relationships with others and your own mental health. We hope these songs help you understand eating disorders better, and perhaps help you overcome it if you suffer from this disease.