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Two years ago, One Direction were in Australia for the ARIA Awards. Interviewing the band for a third time, over the years I’d watched Zayn Malik go from a bubbly jokester high on the fandemonium to a gaunt, almost silent man. Upon our last meeting, Malik looked sick, pale, thin and anxious. While the rest of the boys would answer questions in their trademark jovial style, Malik remained mute. His long, black fringe made it tricky to even make out his eyes, a veil we now realise wasn’t so thin. While many thought the singer was either experiencing a deep anxiety or was turning gothic, none could have expected the truth. “And what about you Zayn? What do you love about Australia? Why do you keep coming back?” I asked.

“I think the weather has a big effect on your mood and the weather is always good here so you feel good.” Looking back, that answer, coupled with his demeanour, was so telling that the now 23-year-old solo singer was experiencing something. Something sad, something that forced him off stage a few weeks later. He really was somewhere else in that interview.

2014 interview with an Australian magazine publication

In his new book, Zayn, Malik bravely reveals his struggle with an eating disorder and it’s heartbreaking. “It wasn’t as though I had any concerns about my weight or anything like that, I’d just go for days—sometimes two or three days straight—without eating anything at all,” he says.

“It got quite serious, although at the time I didn’t recognise it for what it was. I think it was about control. I didn’t feel like I had control over anything else in my life, but food was something I could control, so I did.”

There appears to be a strong focus on food and exercise in the book too as Malik brings up stories about his dad as a personal trainer and about his dissatisfaction with his weight and body as a teenager. There’s very detailed exercise regimes too – a lot on boxing which he and girlfriend Gigi Hadid enjoy – and he talks about his parent’s concerns over his eating habits. 

Malik also talks about his highly-publicised departure from One Direction, how he can now write songs about sex and many other things in his new book, Zayn. Buy it here