Nicole Scherzinger is known for her sexy dance moves, confident persona, and the infamous line "Don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" But on last night's “Behind the Music” special on VH1, she reveals that there was deep insecurity and sadness.
For the first time, the Hawaiian-born singer and dancer reveals details of her painful struggle with bulimia -- and her inspiring road to recovery. Nicole bravely opens up and shares how dark things felt as she hid her feelings and harmful behaviors. "I hated myself," she confesses. "I really was so disgusted with myself and so embarrassed."
Half of Us notes that 10% of American women and 1% of American men suffer from an eating disorder. While most commonly associated with vomiting, bulimia can also involved other dangerous ways to lose weight -- like laxative abuse, obsessive exercise or severe fasting diets. The toll these behaviors take on the body can be devastating: heart problems, severe dehydration, irreversible tooth damage, and a confused metabolism that may actually lead to weight gain.
The emotional consequences can be just as tragic. Referring to her tight-knit girl band days, Nicole says, "I felt so alone. I was in a group, and I never felt so alone in my life." She tried to hide the scars and blisters on her hands — an effect of self-induced purging. She never did drugs, but felt every bit as shackled to her habits and secrets as a drug addict might. "When I got offstage, I was on this high, and I'd come back to my room and I'd be alone. So I would just do things. My bulimia was my addiction; hurting myself was my addiction."
Even with the fan following, wildly confident stage persona and chart-climbing hits, Nicole wasn't able to experience the joy and freedom one might expect of a superstar. Her eating disorder stole that from her, evidence that fame and beauty aren't immunizations to internal struggles. We can't predict how criticism and expectations might affect a person — all the more reason to keep our assumptions and perceptions in check. After eight years of secretly struggling, Nicole got the help she needed to get on a healthy recovery track. Her decision to go public with the very personal story couldn't come at a more synergetic time. With Lady Gaga launching Body Revolution 2013 and Demi Lovato giving magazines a talking-to, pop culture poster girls are ready to bravely stir up dialogue around body image, eating disorders and the pressure they feel to be thin.
Watch clips online for the full story — and if what she says strikes a chord, remember: remember, if you’re dieting or obsession with your weight feels out of control, you aren't alone and speaking up is the first step to feeling better. Should you or someone you know need help, talk to your doctor or a counselor, and visit Half of Us for more resources, stories and additional information.