In a new interview published by The Guardian where the gold medal-winning Olympian answers some of his fans most burning questions, the 27-year-old diver, husband, and father got candid about his relationship with his own body image, the pressures facing athletes to look and be at at their physical peak all the time, and how nearly a decade ago he had what he calls a "mild form" of an eating disorder.
"What are your views on the sexualization of athletes in sport, having been pushed as a poster boy and not wearing very much?" one fan asked Daley in the interview.
"You have these body issues as an athlete," he answered. "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."
"You wrote about this in your book. Is it fair to say you developed an eating disorder? Would you call it that?" another fan then asked.
"I used to make myself throw up, in 2012. I weigh myself every day," Daley said. "I’ve had a very strange relationship with food and my body image. I guess it is a mild form of that."
Speaking up about how there is still a lot of stigma when it comes to discussions of body image and eating disorders, especially for men, he continued: "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."
When asked further about the sexualization of young male athletes, especially in regards to some risqué magazine photoshoots he and other divers were asked to do when they were younger, Daley then said that he thinks the source of his body image issues came directly from the diving world.
"I don’t think the body image issues come from anything to do with the media," he said. "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."
Though he dealt with a lot back in 2012 (when he competed in the Summer Olympic Games in London), Daley is now in a much better and healthier place in his life and loves being a role model for young, LGBTQ+ folks to look up to, especially in the sporting world.
"I had to figure out my sexuality very much in the public eye. For me, coming out lifted a weight off my shoulders," Daley said about what life has been like before and after coming out. "It eats you up inside when you’re trying to be someone you’re not, or not even trying to be someone you’re not, but not necessarily being honest. It was terrifying, but at the same time it was like: now I no longer have to hide. It was very much wanting to take control of the situation."