Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall opens up about anorexia battle: “I just wanted to waste away”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Jade Thirlwall, at the age of 23, is one-fourth of the phenomenally successful Little Mix.

However, the singer has revealed that she has had to overcome a great deal in order to get to where she is today.

Opening up in the band’s new book, Our World, Thirlwall has spoken for the first time about her struggles with anorexia, which led to her being hospitalised as a teenager.

Writing in the book, she revealed that the eating disorder began when she was just 13 years old due to problems at home, bullying and the death of a family member.

“My periods stopped and things were getting out of control but I don’t think I really cared about what was happening to me,” she explains, in quotes obtained by The Mirror.

“I felt so depressed at the time that I just wanted to waste away and disappear.”

She added: “Anorexia is a self-destructive thing and you become stubborn, so when people are trying to tell you something you get it into your head that they’re against you and you’re not going to listen.”

The Little Mix singer’s condition was so severe that she was admitted to hospital, where doctors informed her that she was slowly killing herself.

“It took going to hospital to make me realise that it wasn't a game, it was something really serious,” she writes.

“They sat me down in the clinic and were quite tough at first, spelling it out: 'You're destroying your body and if you keep doing this you will die.'”

Thankfully, Thirlwall’s story has a happy ending; she began visiting the hospital every week and undergoing regular therapy sessions, and found herself back to fill health by the end of secondary school.

However others who struggle with the condition are far less lucky.

In April 2016, the BBC exposed the shockingly high waiting times that patients are being subjected to in order to receive mental health treatment for eating disorders

Waiting times for outpatient treatment have risen by 120% in some areas over the past four years, with patients routinely waiting more than 100 days for a specialist.

Eating disorder charity Beat have said time and time again that early intervention is critical to a rapid, sustained, and full recovery.

“Right now, we are letting people with eating disorders down,” they explain. “They are turned away by the health system, told they aren’t ‘ill’ enough for treatment and are confused about where to turn.

“This can’t continue.”

Beat have a five-year action plan in place, which aims to put early intervention at the front and centre across everything they do.

“We’ll campaign for policy geared towards early intervention, and for better funding for earlier and more accessible treatment,” they say on their website.

The Department of Health has taken notice of the issue, and recently confirmed that they are developing a pathway for treating adults with eating disorders.

“People with eating disorders must get high quality care as early as possible - and while this is happening in some places, there is far too much variation,” a spokesman said to the BBC.

“That is why we're investing £150 million to develop community services in every area of the country for children and young people, and have set a target for routine care to be available within four weeks and urgent care within one week by 2020.”

Our World is available to buy now.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, call Beat on 0845 634 7650 or email

You can also visit their website if you would like any more information.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.