As American Idol kicked off its twelfth season, the judges rolled into Chicago to hear auditions. One contestant in particular got attention for her voice, but perhaps more for the struggles she had gone through just to be standing there. Mariah Pulice admitted to America that she was in the early stages of recovery from anorexia.
Anorexia is an eating disorder that affects nearly 24 million men and women in the United States, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Inc. (ANAD). Pulice falls into the most common gender and age group to struggle with the disorder – teenaged females.
Pulice admitted on last Thursday’s episode that her struggles with eating began in junior high school, saying, “I felt a lot bigger than the other girls.” These feeling progressed and Pulice said by high school she recalled only eating a single slice of American cheese each day. For reference, that’s only about 100 calories and maybe five grams of protein. The fact that Pulice was telling this story was impressive, considering how dangerously she was treating her body.
Pulice said she sought help in rehab after admitting that “anorexia engulfed everything in my life.”
Music was given credit for helping Pulice work through her struggles with eating. In fact, she credits music with saving her life. As Pulice entered the judges room in Chicago, she first connected with Mariah Carey as they both have the same name. Then she began telling them her story, telling all the judges that her fight isn’t over as she said her recovery is an “everyday battle.”
Pulice made it through her emotional rendition of the Beatles, “Let It Be,” while the judges became emotional themselves. Mariah Carey had to wipe tears away as Pulice sang. Pulice was fortunate enough to get the “yes” votes and move on to the next round.
She celebrated with her support team comprised mostly of family and told the camera that this experience made her feel something rare.
“I feel beautiful for the first time in so long,” she said.
Twitter also lit up with support for Pulice as they wanted her to know they were proud of her too.
— Nick Radenkovich (@NickRadenkovich) January 18, 2013
S/O to Mariah Pulice for putting her story out there. She’s a beacon of hope for someone.
— Camille Alexandria (@HearttDonor) January 18, 2013
Hopefully Pulice can serve as a model for how much better life can be after seeking and receiving treatment for an eating disorder. ANAD states that only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder seek help. Let Mariah Pulice’s story be the start of positive change in those statistics.