Onetime America’s Got Talent singing phenom Jackie Evancho has revealed that a serious injury she suffered in a January 2021 car accident that broke her back in two places led to her seeking treatment for a long-running eating disorder. In an interview with People, Evancho, 22, said she’s struggled with anorexia for 7 years and sought help after learning that the disorder has had a major impact on her overall health.
“They were abnormal breaks, breaks that you see in 80-year-olds,” Evancho said of the injuries to her back suffered in the crash. “That’s how I learned that my eating problems created osteoporosis. So now I’m a 22-year-old with osteoporosis.” The pop classical crossover star finished second on the fifth season of AGT at age 10 and released 7 albums that hit No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Albums chart.
Evancho said her struggle with an eating disorder began when she was 15 as she was going through puberty and though the bone-disease diagnosis was a wake-up call it still took time for her to address the issue. “I had to eat [for my bones] to heal, and that really messed me up with my eating problems, because I was gaining weight to heal,” she told the magazine about her decision to enter an inpatient treatment facility in October 2021. “Once I finally healed, my disorder said, ‘OK, now you’ve got to be really hard on yourself to get all of that out of you . . . and then some.'”
She said she began to feel “bigger” to herself at 15 and asked her mom “Do I look fat?,” to which her mother reportedly replied, “‘No, no, that’s just baby fat.'” At that point, the singer said she decided to “mildly” diet and work out regularly. Not realizing the results she was seeking, Evancho said she began eating less and exercising more before starting to go “days without eating, in my head I said, ‘I know that this isn’t normal.’ I felt exhausted, moody, tearful, but after a bit of time, I started to feel nothing.”
Though she first sought outpatient treatment at 17, Evancho said she still struggled, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown that began in early 2020. “The urge to restrict what I’m eating, on top of eating because I’m bored, and panic because I have this distorted view of myself in the mirror . . . it made everything really difficult,” she explained. “There weren’t distractions during COVID.”
As part of her commitment to be healthy, Evancho is now seeing a nutritionist and therapist and undergoing EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), a type of psychotherapy that she hopes will help her process past trauma and get her anorexia under control. “I’m still struggling, but I’m fighting, which is good because a year ago I was giving in to it completely, and that’s so dark and painful,” she said. “I’m not healthy yet, but I have been able to implement healthy coping skills and better eating habits.”
Evancho is gearing up to release her 9th album, Carousel of Time, a Joni Mitchell covers collection, in September as well as working on new original songs. “There are still issues, but they are so much better,” she told People. “There are days where I feel helpless and hopeless, but I’m sick of living like this.”
If you are struggling with an eating disorder call (800) 931-2237) or text (800) 931-2237) the National Eating Disorders Association for help.