In Defense Of Fiona

Poor Fiona Apple. Compared to 2012 (which brought on an arrest and the upsetting death of her dog), 2013 seemed like it was going a bit better – until recently, when she was heckled at one of her concerts by a fan who told her she needed to “get healthy”.

Here’s a little bit of a background on Fiona: At the age of 12, she was raped outside of her mother’s apartment after coming home from school. What helped her cope turned out to be an eating disorder, as she tried to minimize her breasts, which she only viewed as “bait”. As she explains, “A lot of it came from the self-loathing that came from being raped at the point of developing my voluptuousness.. I just thought that if you had a body and if you had anything on you that would be grabbed, it would be grabbed. So I did purposely get rid of it.”

While Fiona was always thin throughout her career, which blossomed in the mid-’90s with her debut album Tidal, reports about her small frame made news again in 2012. A few photos circulated of her on gossip websites, where doctors weighed in on what might be the issue. “I would guess she is numbing herself from something – most likely feelings. Being in the public eye and getting arrested for drug use brings attention to herself and highlights whatever difficulty she is going through. Her pictures certainly look alarming and concerning,” said psychotherapist Jessica Aronson (who I’m guessing never even met the girl). At an October concert in Clearwater, Florida, Fiona honestly addressed the crowd and said that her weight loss was a product of stress, and not from drugs or alcohol.

Cut to today: News just came out that Fiona broke down during a show last month in Portland, after a female audience member yelled “Fiona! Get healthy! We want to see you in 10 years!” Within moments, Fiona began cursing – and even went so far as to throw the audience member out of the venue.

“It’s a sensitive subject because it’s not something that should be talked about, because there is nothing wrong with me,” Apple stated. “I’m healthy and I shouldn’t even have to say any of that. What makes me unhealthy and puts me in danger is that kind of scrutiny itself. It’s the same as being bullied at school, and just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t hurt by it. You could make anybody cry if you told them that they’re ugly.”

While the comments could have been out of true concern and love for the singer (after all, she did gain fame with scary lyrics like “hunger hurts but starving works”), it still seems out of line for an audience member to yell it from the audience – don’t you think? Even worse, reports say that the comment lead to even more audience participation, including someone yelling “You’re a has-been!” from the rafters. (You read that right. Someone bought a ticket, waited in line, and sat through a bunch of songs for the chance to yell an insult at a well established musical artist.) Fiona has had to deal with this scrutiny for well over fifteen years. And while her angry response to the heckling might not have been the greatest (since I’m sure that when the cursing began, others tried to act out in order to get a reaction from her), it must have been the final straw.

Surely as fans, we have a right to be concerned over the health of our favorite musicians – but in truth, there’s so much we don’t know about her situation. We don’t know if she’s still battling an eating disorder, even though her brutal honesty about her past leads me to believe she’d have no reason to hide anything now. We don’t know if she’s seeing a dietitian, or a doctor. We don’t know if she read the comments people maliciously posted after pictures of her were plastered over TMZ last year. Nobody should know what her BMI number is, or how many sandwiches she’s eaten this week. And we especially don’t know the amount of stress and pressure she might be under right now. We know she’s not perfect, but we know she’s a human. All we can, and should do, is support her and take her word for it. And have her know that if she ever needs our support, we’re there for her – the way she was there for us, through her absolutely stunning songwriting.

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