There’s no denying that society has impossible standards for beauty: slender people are considered attractive, while those who are anything but thin are considered less desirable.
This unrealistic ideal can lead to eating disorders and mental health problems — a harrowing experience that many music artists know all too well.
In this article, we’ll explore 31 of the most powerful songs about eating disorders and the struggle to keep up with society’s standards. Let’s get started!
1. “Anorexia” By Iron Curtain
First on our list is a song with anorexia in the title. Iron Curtain’s “Anorexia” tells the tale of a young girl who struggles with anorexia nervosa, a serious eating disorder characterized by a fear of gaining weight and an obsession with being thin.
The lyrics delve deep into the emotional and psychological turmoil experienced by the protagonist, as well as the people around her: “And now you’re down to eighty-nine / and all along you worked so hard / to look so fine / You scared your mom / She told yer dad / Now they wonder what they did / to make you sad.”
The dark melody and the weighty lyrics together creates a thought-provoking piece that prompts reflection on the impact of societal standards on individuals’ well-being.
2. “Skin And Bones” By Morgan St. Jean
Society often dictates what is considered to be “perfect,” including how your body looks and what path you choose to follow in life. Morgan St. Jean addresses this well in her song “Skin and Bones.”
A song that mentions anorexia metaphorically, “Skin and Bones” attempts to challenge the pressure to conform to a narrow definition of perfection: “I don’t love a body / That’s just skin and bones … / Truth is, it’s not black and white / There’s not a blueprint / Call me what you like, I’m just a human.”
The metaphorical “skin and bones” represents the fragility and emptiness that can result from the relentless pursuit of unrealistic ideals. The song encourages individuals to break free from the constraints of societal expectations, fostering a sense of empowerment.
3. “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” By Silverchair
Next up, we have a song with anorexia in the lyrics. Silverchair’s “Ana’s Song (Open Fire)” is a play of words of the medical condition’s nickname, Ana — short for “anorexia.”
While most people would think the song is about a fictional character named Ana, it is actually about the lead singer, Daniel John’s battle with an eating disorder: “And you’re my obsession / I love you to the bones / and Ana wrecks your life / like an anorexia life.”
The profound nature of these lyrics sheds light on the haunting impact of anorexia, not just on the physical body but on the entirety of one’s existence. It’s a reminder of how artists can use their craft to confront and share their personal battles, creating a powerful connection with listeners.
4. “Bulimia” By Wett Brain (Ft. ITSOKAYTOCRY)
There are several types of eating disorders, one of which is bulimia, a condition where individuals engage in a cycle of binge eating and purging. A song with bulimia in the title, Wett Brain’s “Bulimia,” adeptly captures the essence of this disorder.
Alongside rapper ITSOKAYTOCRY, Wett Brain explores the mental anguish experienced by those grappling with bulimia, framing it in the context of a toxic relationship: “Baby, watch me binge / Baby, watch me purge … / ’cause I can’t fight the urge to throw up … / You’re so full of shit, girl, it makes me wanna puke.”
The song’s narrative not only resonates with those facing similar challenges but also prompts a reflection on the negative impact of eating disorders on one’s mental health.
5. “Paradigms” By Sam Fender
The pervasive nature of eating disorders often makes it difficult for individuals to break free from the destructive patterns that comes with it. This is what Sam Fender addresses in his song “Paradigms.”
A song with bulimia in the lyrics, the track emphasizes the effect of marketing and societal pressure on vulnerable people: “Every image of perfection starts a goldmine / They gave you bulimia, those marketing masterminds … and it breaks you up / over time.”
Fender’s choice of words implies a deliberate, calculated effort to sell an unattainable image that, in turn, contributes to the development of destructive conditions like bulimia.
6. “Orange Juice” By Melanie Martinez
Known to use a storytelling approach in both her songs and music videos, Melanie Martinez features a character suffering from an eating disorder in “Orange Juice.”
A song that mentions bulimia metaphorically, “Orange Juice,” symbolizes the complexities of eating disorders and peer pressure to look a certain way. The line “You turn oranges to orange juice” refers to the act of vomiting that’s characteristic of bulimia nervosa.
The song not only captures the physical act of purging but also explores the underlying emotional triggers and the desire for control that often accompany such conditions.
7. “I’m Not Hungry” By Skela
The harsh reality of eating disorders is that they go beyond mere cravings or appetite, contrary to common misconceptions. These conditions often stem from a combination of psychological and social factors, and Skela masterfully addresses this in her song “I’m Not Hungry.”
Through her lyrics, she sheds light on the mental struggles that anorexic individuals face: “Oh I know, I shouldn’t go whole days without eating / but I’m just not hungry like I used to be / and I’m not sad about you anymore / I’m sad about me.”
The song serves as a reminder that dealing with eating disorders is not simply a matter of willpower or self-control but rather a deep-seated issue that requires patience, empathy, and proper treatment.
8. “Please Eat” By Nicole Dollanganger
Watching a loved one spiraling into the depths of an eating disorder can be emotionally wrenching. Nicole Dollanganger skillfully captures the essence of this struggle in her song “Please Eat.”
The raw vulnerability of her voice, coupled with the harrowing lyrics, penetrates deep into the core of the listener’s emotions: “If only I could make you believe you deserve everything / every spoon and bite, anything you want to eat / ’cause I know you can only starve so much / before you’ll die.”
Dollanganger’s song is not just an exploration of personal struggles but a commentary on the societal pressures that contribute to the vicious cycle of self-destruction.
9. “Smaller Than This” By Sara Kays
One’s self-esteem can drastically undermine one’s body image. In “Smaller Than This,” Sara Kays takes us into a raw perspective into the life of a person struggling with how they perceive their figure.
The lyrics highlight the daily battles of trying to fit into society’s impossible beauty standards: “’Cause I’ll always wish I was smaller than this … / Oh, I’m scared that I’m never gonna like / how I look and I wish I knew why.”
Kays prompts us to consider the importance of fostering a culture that celebrates diversity and individuality rather than perpetuating harmful comparisons that erode self-esteem.
10. “Dying To Be Thin” By No Frills Twins
The pursuit of becoming slender can lead to serious health risks, and No Frills Twins boldly confronts the harsh realities of anorexia in their song “Dying to Be Thin.”
The lyrics shed light on the perilous consequences of striving for an excessively thin body: “Dying to be thin / Dieting to fit in / Dying to feel alive / Dying from the inside out.” The line “dying to feel alive” is particularly potent, highlighting the irony of how beauty standards can lead to physical and emotional suffering.
The haunting melody, combined with the raw emotion in the singers’ voices, truly drives home the message of the harmful effects of striving for an unrealistic body image.
11. “Me And Mia” By Ted Leo And The Pharmacists
In “Me and Mia,” Ted Leo and The Pharmacists use Mia as a metaphorical representation of bulimia nervosa, portraying it as a toxic and destructive force in the narrator’s life.
As the song progresses, Ted Leo vividly describes the intense emotional rollercoaster of living with an eating disorder: “What’s eating you alive / might help you to survive . . . / It was Ego who was flying the banner / Me and Mia, Ann and Anna.”
The juxtaposition of the upbeat punk-rock sound and the dark subject matter creates a powerful contrast. It emphasizes how eating disorders can often go unnoticed or be glamorized in society.
12. “Ana And Mia” By The Trews
Next up, we have another song that mentions Ana and Mia as personifications of anorexia and bulimia. In their rock track “Ana and Mia,” The Trews shed light on the damaging effects these disorders can have on one’s life.
The lyrics speak from the perspective of a concerned friend who is aware of the struggles of someone caught in the grips of an eating disorder: “Mother, you should watch your girl tonight … / She’s beautiful and it’s misleading / Saw her on the sidewalk bleeding / sickened by the sight of eating.”
While the song may be hard-hitting and, at times, uncomfortable to listen to, it is an important reminder of how eating disorders can not only harm the individual suffering but also affect those around them.
13. “Skin And Bones” By Marianas Trench
Not known to many, Josh Ramsay, the frontman of the Canadian band Marianas Trench, grappled with bulimia in his youth. This deeply personal battle is candidly laid bare in the band’s pop-rock anthem “Skin and Bones.”
The beginning verse of the song narrates what most bulimics do to hide away their secret: “I lock the door / turn all the water on / and bury that sound / so no one hears anything anymore.” The song also includes lines like “I’m always on my knees for you,” referring to the act of kneeling before a toilet to vomit.
The raw vulnerability of “Skin and Bones” is a testament to the power of music in addressing mental health struggles. The song also serves as a reminder that these struggles can affect anyone, regardless of their fame or success.
14. “Skeleton” By Jessie Paege
There’s a common misconception that people suffering from eating disorders are oblivious to the risks involved in their behaviors. However, Jessie Paege’s song “Skeleton” sheds light on the conflicting thoughts that someone with an eating disorder may experience.
In the song, Paege vividly describes the struggle between wanting to be thin and knowing that the act is harming her. The lines “I need to apologize to my body / Will you forgive me for everything I’ve done?” are particularly poignant. It emphasizes the torment she experiences as she grapples with the consequences of her eating disorder.
“Skeleton” serves as a reminder that those with eating disorders are not just seeking acceptance; they are battling a complex and often devastating mental illness.
15. “Diet Coke” By Leanna Firestone
Low self-worth can lead to detrimental consequences on one’s life, and unfortunately, this struggle frequently manifests among vulnerable teenagers. Leanna Firestone delves into this disconcerting theme through “Diet Coke.”
The song’s lyrics illuminate the insidious ways that eating disorders can infiltrate young minds, with lines such as, “Used to wonder if being skinny would be worth it if I could die” and “Starving myself for confidence feels like a fair trade.”
Firestone’s choice of words is both evocative and haunting. It captures the internal struggle of those who may perceive extreme measures as a means to attain a warped sense of confidence.
16. “Anorexic Queen” By PurelyDef (Ft. Meagan T.)
Loving someone who fails to recognize their own worth can be a huge struggle, especially when it’s affecting their physical and mental health. PurelyDef created a touching love song beneath the rebellious exterior of a punk-rock track, “Anorexic Queen.”
The rawness of the lyrics encapsulates the singer’s plea to his muse: “Visual certainty, but the way you treat yourself hurts me / Like it’s not enough that I believe you’re beautiful … / You’ll never see the things I see, but you’re my anorexic queen.”
Alongside Meagan Tarantelli’s vocals, the song captures the internal turmoil that comes with loving someone who struggles with an eating disorder. “Anorexic Queen” is not just a love song; it’s a call for understanding, compassion, and support for those struggling with body image issues.
17. “Prom Queen” By Beach Bunny
Impressionable teens might find themselves resorting to perilous behaviors like extreme dieting, driven by a desperate pursuit of societal approval. Beach Bunny addresses this in their song “Prom Queen.”
Beach Bunny’s lyrics resonate with the reality that many young people face: “If I’m pretty, will you like me? / They say beauty makes boys happy / I’ve been starving myself, carving / skin until my bones are showing.”
A song that initially went viral on the social media platform TikTok, the song sheds light on the pressure placed on young girls to conform to certain beauty standards. It also encourages listeners to embrace their natural bodies and not let society’s expectations dictate their worth.
18. “Bulimic” By King Bach
Eating disorders can impact individuals regardless of gender, and King Bach openly addresses this in his rap track “Bulimic.”
The lyrics detail the struggles of living with bulimia: “Take my index fingers stick it halfway down my throat / The bile acid from my stomach is hella tart / And I don’t care what you say / I gotta do what I gotta do.”
Known primarily as a comedian, it’s both refreshing and impactful that King Bach, whose real name is Andrew Bachelor, uses his platform to address the serious and often overlooked issue of eating disorders.
19. “Waiting To Be Weightless (Anorexia Nervosa)” By ElysianSoul
The sheer weight of society’s standards and expectations can often feel suffocating for those struggling with anorexia. In “Waiting to Be Weightless,” ElysianSoul captures the inner turmoil and intense pressure faced by individuals living with this eating disorder.
The lyrics touch on the constant battle between wanting to lose weight and feeling trapped in a never-ending cycle: “So dine upon my misery / and waste me to my core / Just waiting to be weightless / that’s all I’m asking for.”
The use of metaphor and imagery in the song highlights the desperation and longing for control that often accompanies anorexia. It also fosters empathy and perhaps even a sense of solidarity among listeners who may have similar experiences.
20. “Sophie” By Eleanor McEvoy
Music artists have the incredible ability to convey stories through their craft, even without experiencing it themselves. Eleanor McEvoy exemplifies this talent in her song “Sophie.”
The lyrics lay a narrative of a fictional character suffering from anorexia: “Sophie’s losin’ weight by the minute / How did things get this bad? / Sophie’s family don’t understand it / gave her all that they had.”
McEvoy’s choice to explore such a sensitive topic demonstrates the power of music as a medium for social commentary and awareness. By giving voice to the struggles of a fictional character like Sophie, she opens a dialogue about issues that may otherwise remain hidden in the shadows.
21. “Penny Is An Anorexic” By Saturday Supercade
Observing an anorexic through the eyes of someone who lacks empathy and understanding can be tough. In Saturday Supercade’s “Penny Is an Anorexic,” they sing about a girl — probably someone they go to school with — who is suffering from an eating disorder.
Despite the upbeat tempo of the song, the lyrics are laden with an undertone of judgment with lines like, “Penny is an anorexic / What’s the matter with you, don’t you ever eat?” and “Fuck you, Penny, you’re sadistic / When will you stop, and where will you draw the line?”
Sadly, the song ended with a somber theme, implying that Penny eventually passed away. “Penny Is an Anorexic” acts as a cautionary tale of the destructive consequences of the stigma that plagues anorexics.
22. “Hunger” By Florence + The Machine
In “Hunger,” lead singer Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine shares her truth about the eating disorder she suffered as a teenager: “At seventeen I started to starve myself / I thought that love was a kind of emptiness.”
This revelation laid the foundation for the song’s overarching theme, about the metaphorical hunger that many of us face as we transition into adulthood. The lyrics also acknowledge how the youth of today have more self-awareness than before: “We all have hunger … / Oh, you look so free / the way you use your body, baby.”
The song becomes a poignant reflection on the societal shifts accompanying the modern coming-of-age experience.
23. “My Body Is A Cage” By Sara Lov
People who are deep in the trenches of an eating disorder are often fully aware of how their minds hold the key to their own healing. Sara Lov acknowledges this fact in her melancholic song “My Body Is a Cage.”
Although neither anorexia nor bulimia are explicitly mentioned, the lyrics of the song describe the lack of control one feels amid a behavioral and psychological condition: “My body is a cage / that keeps me from dancing with the one I love / But my mind holds the key.”
The phrase “But my mind holds the key” is a powerful acknowledgment of the potential for self-empowerment and recovery. It suggests that the path to healing lies within the individual’s own mental strength and resilience.
24. “Skinny” By Edith Backlund
Many individuals with anorexia and bulimia often draw a parallel between their struggle and the daunting presence of an uncontrollable monster. Through her haunting song “Skinny,” Edith Backlund vividly captures the essence of this tumultuous journey.
“Skinny” delves into the intricacies of the mental and physical toll that the quest for an idealized body image can take: “Mirror, mirror on my wall / ruthless to your victim / Suiting you is all I know / A slave to my reflection … / All my monsters singing / skinny.”
The reference to “monsters singing” represents the constant barrage of internal criticism and self-loathing that often accompanies the desire for a “perfect” body. The song becomes a reminder that we can be our own worst enemy when we lack compassion for ourselves.
25. “Empty” By Boyinaband (Ft. Jaiden)
Purging everything you’ve digested not only empties your stomach but also empties your very being. This is a sentiment expressed in Boyinaband’s song “Empty,” which narrates YouTube personality Jaiden’s struggle with bulimia.
Mainly sung rap-style, the rapid-fire delivery of words mirrors the urgency and intensity of Jaiden’s internal conflict: “Can’t trust my own nature / Every calorie a failure / Gotta push the intake down every day / ’cause the voice comes back to say / ‘You want to eat? Bite your tongue.’”
“Empty” stands as a reminder that beneath the surface of polished personas, there are intricate stories waiting to be heard.
26. “Invisible” By Skylar Grey
At a certain point in our adolescence, we strive to fit into the mold of what is considered acceptable in order to fit in. However, this pursuit can lead down a perilous path, as described in Skylar Grey’s song “Invisible.”
While the song isn’t exclusively about eating disorders, Grey describes the harrowing experience of changing your physical appearance to conform, even at the expense of her own authenticity: She sings: “I take these pills to make me thin … / I try everything to make them see me / but all they see is someone that’s not me.”
The song serves as a powerful reminder that the consequences of sacrificing one’s true self to fit into societal molds can result in a profound sense of emptiness and alienation.
27. “I Go Hungry” By Mother Mother
Songs frequently serve as avenues for personal expression, just like how Mother Mother’s lead vocalist Ryan Guldemond did in their song “I Go Hungry.”
Delicately alluding to a deeply personal journey, the song is believed to encapsulate Guldemond’s battle with an eating disorder. The lyrics “I got a date on Friday / Not gonna eat anything ’til then / I’m gonna look so skinny / She’ll wanna feel my bones against her skin” are a strong indication of it.
“I Go Hungry” dismantles stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. It emphasizes that the issue can affect anyone regardless of gender.
28. “Grapefruit” By Tove Lo
A passing remark on one’s appearance can sting for years, and Tove Lo’s experience as a teen is a testament to that. In her song “Grapefruit,” she subtly alluded to her struggle with an eating disorder following an ordeal with a modeling agency’s insensitive comment on her weight.
The grapefruit that’s central to the theme of the song is a symbol of Lo’s personal journey and the complexities surrounding her relationship with body image: “One, two grapefruit / How am I back here again? / Three, four, lose more / I know my mirrors are lyin’.”
Lo’s experience underscores the profound and enduring effects that society’s expectations and comments about body image can have on an individual’s mental and physical well-being.
29. “Paper Bag” By Fiona Apple
Clinging on to hope can prove to be futile when the subject of your affection does not reciprocate your feelings. In this melancholic acoustic song, Fiona Apple bares her vulnerability and heartbreak in “Paper Bag.”
The chorus of the song alludes to her long-time struggle with an eating disorder: “Hunger hurts, and I want him so bad, oh, it kills … / Hunger hurts, but starving works / when it costs too much to love.”
Indeed, unrequited love and eating disorders can both leave individuals feeling empty and unsatisfied. This song serves as a reminder that we are all vulnerable to these struggles, but we must try to let go of impossible expectations and focus on our own self-love and acceptance.
30. “Numbers” By Pompeii
Bulimia is often not talked about as much as anorexia, as its symptoms are not always as visible. However, it is just as dangerous and can have severe physical and emotional consequences. In “Numbers,” the band Pompeii captures the internal struggles of someone with bulimia.
Every line of the song speaks to the overwhelming obsession with numbers that individuals with bulimia face: “My problems hide in numbers that leave when I gag and heave / I weighed out every option, that scale’s not fit for advice.”
This powerful song highlights the toxic influence of diet culture and society’s unrealistic beauty standards. The lyrics serve as a reminder to break free from these damaging beliefs and focus on self-love and healthy habits.
31. “Deadly Beauty” By Alexa Shea
While the media tends to glamorize eating disorders, some artists are using their platforms to shed light on the harsh reality of these illnesses. Alexa Shea‘s “Deadly Beauty” is a haunting and raw portrayal of the dangers of anorexia.
The first half of the song tells the story of a young girl who is struggling with anorexia. Near the end, this part is particularly harrowing: “Twenty-three now she’s buried underneath red roses … / Maybe she’s finally free / from not feeling good enough / and maybe she’s rid of her disease.”
In the final refrain, Shea leaves the listener with a profound sense of reflection: “She’s just a girl who doesn’t know / She’s already beautiful.” It stands as a powerful reminder that those struggling with anorexia are often blind to their own worth and beauty, trapped in a dangerous mindset that can lead to serious consequences.
Summing Up Our List Of Eating Disorder Songs
So that wraps up our list of eating disorder songs. From the upbeat portrayal of Saturday Supercade to the rebellious attitude of The Trews and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, down to the introspective themes of Fiona Apple, these songs cover a wide range of emotions and perspectives.
Whether you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, these songs offer powerful messages of hope, strength, and support.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out to local helplines for support and guidance. Remember, recovery is possible, and you are not alone.