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.
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Ashley Kauffman says she was banished to the back of the audience for being overweight.
UPDATE [4/13/11]: According to FremantleMedia, the company that produces the American Idol, Ms. Kauffman’s claims are untrue. “Kauffman’s party agreed to be split up, and contrary to her allegations, she did not sit alone or in the back of the house,” they said in a statement released to CNN. “In fact, she and her remaining party were seated just four rows behind their friends, directly in camera shot, in some of the best seats in the house.”
Although American Idol is based on singing ability and talent, contestants “looks” definitely play a role. Simon may not be a judge on the show this year, but in seasons pasts he’d repeatedly say that certain contestants had a very marketable look (read: attractive on TV), while others, despite having singing talent, didn’t, and therefore weren’t able to make the cut. But riddle me this- what do audience members have to do with it?
According to a recent report on RadarOnline.com, one 19-year-old fan was moved from her front-row spot in the audience with her friends to a back seat away from cameras during the live taping of an American Idol episode because of her size. She told the website, “I was kind of taken aback. I’m not that big, but I understand I was bigger than the girls I was with. But I was like, ‘Wow, way to hit a low blow.'” So far, American Idol has not responded to the claims.
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