Tom Daley Had Body Issues as a Teen, Suffered from Bulemia

Monday October 11, 2021
Originally published on October 7, 2021

Out Olympic medal winner Tom Daley is one of the most photographed athletes in the world, usually with his entire body in view, save for a Speedo. But for Daley, who won gold and bronze medals this past July in Tokyo, it's been a struggle to achieve a comfort level with his body.

With his autobiography, "Coming Up for Air," being published soon, the 27-year-old shared his issues with body dysmorphia with the Guardian, acknowledging having been bulimic as a teenager.

"I used to make myself throw up, in 2012. I weigh myself every day. I've had a very strange relationship with food and my body image," he told the newspaper. "I guess it is a mild form of that. Men always seem to not have eating disorders, and it's hard to talk about it. But I would consider myself to be someone that has very much struggled with body image, and eating, and feeling guilty and shameful of the things that I eat."

He also addressed what he felt were inappropriate photo shoots when he was a young swimmer. "I don't know if there would be shoots of maybe 14-, 15-, 16-year-old boys in their trunks, with water thrown all over them, now. I know there definitely wouldn't be girls doing that. It's hard to say what's right and what's wrong."

But it wasn't being in the media that led to him having body dysmorphia issues, rather the pressure came from within the sport itself. "I don't think the body image issues come from anything to do with the media. My body image [issues] came from within my sport — it was hammered into me that I was overweight and needed to lose weight in order to perform."

He added that many scoffed at the idea of an athlete as in shape as Daley would have body issues."You have these body issues as an athlete. Lots of people would look at athletes and be like: 'What are you talking about? You're an athlete, you're in shape, you have nothing to worry about.' But especially as a diver, you're up on the diving board and you're so naked, so visible, so it's quite hard to be content with your body, because you always want to be better."

Daley is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality, especially in participating in international sporting events. "In terms of sport, I think no country should be able to host any kind of international event unless they have equal rights for LGBT people, for women, for people of colour. There should be a standard, where anyone that wants to go there is going to be safe, supported and not feel threatened for their life."

Daley met his husband, Dustin Lance Black in 2013, the same year he came out publicly. The couple became engaged in 2015, married in 2017 and had a child, a boy via surrogacy, in 2018. Asked if the 20-difference between himself and Black was an issue. "Never. If anything, Lance is very much the big kid in the house. I consider myself to be an older soul, hence I have nearly 200 houseplants, and I knit, and I like to be able to have conversations with people who have experienced a similar amount as I have. That's where Lance and I connected a lot — he had lost his brother, I'd lost my dad, and then he lost his mum. We'd also experienced the highs of a career [Black won an Oscar in 2009 for his screenplay for 'Milk'] and having that comedown afterwards. That was something we really were able to connect on."

Daley has also become the poster boy for knitting since he was seen last summer at the Olympics. He explained how he became obsessed with the craft. "My coach always wanted me to sit down, rest, recover. Because I'm one of those people always up doing something, Lance said some people on [TV sets], while they're waiting between takes, will knit. I was terrible at it, got a bit of info from YouTube and a couple of divers on the international scene helped me, and then all of a sudden I was obsessed with it. Every new project was a new technique to learn. It's what I do whenever I have a moment. I used to be a massive nail biter and now I don't bite my nails, because that fidgeting is gone."

Check out these pics from Daley's IG: