Kate Yeager is in her vulnerable era.

As Eating Disorders Awareness Week continues, we're uplifting artists who've spoken out on body image and disordered eating––whether in their career or music. Nashville-based independent singer/songwriter Kate Yeager broke the internet with her 2023 single “Fat”––a candid track about her lifelong struggle with body image. We spoke with the artist on the responses to the track, and her upcoming EP Before the Lights Go Out.

March 3, 2024

Interview by Alyssa Goldberg

Photo Courtesy of Kate Yeager

Kate Yeager is in her vulnerable era. The Nashville-based independent singer/songwriter broke the internet with her 2023 single “Fat”––a candid track about her lifelong struggle with body image. 

But Yeager didn't always know she'd channel these emotions into music––she grew up as a competitive swimmer with music as the soundtrack to swim meets and early morning practices. She learned the saxophone in the third grade, in part because of an appreciation for Clarence Clemons, but growing up in New Jersey, Bruce Springstein was more her speed. When an injury hindered her sport at the "prime age” of 12, her mom knew she needed to place her energy elsewhere. So, Yeager ended up transitioning from "athlete" to "theater kid,” and developed an uncontainable love for theater. In high school, Yeager and her best friend, Travis, would take the bus from New Jersey to Port Authority and arrive right in the Theater District, ready to soak in the city’s bustling spotlight. From there, deciding to write her own music came naturally. "Throughout doing theater, I kind of made the decision that I loved helping tell other people's stories, but I wanted to start telling my own,” said Yeager. 

Still channeling her love for the greats like Springsteen, Yeager hyper-fixated on learning to play guitar. She took this request to her parents, who told her they'd buy her a nice guitar if she stuck with it––her ADHD (undiagnosed at the time) had often interfered with her commitment to different hobbies. Yeager took her savings––$73––and bought a starter guitar from Keith, who is still her "guitar guy." A year later, after proving her dedication to her parents, Keith helped her pick out a new guitar. 

While many hobbies had succumbed to new hyper-fixations, music helped her “scratch that itch constantly.” “If you're trying to pursue it, you do the chords, and then you do block chords, barre chords, and then you do fingerpicking. And then you're like, what about electric guitar? And then you're like, what about bass? It's just like a rabbit hole that keeps you in it,” said Yeager. 

Yeager’s journey with mental health was not linear––before she was diagnosed with ADHD, she was treated for OCD. Medication helped manage those symptoms, but ADHD’s impact on her life became “the main star.” This past year, she’s focused on managing the entirety of her symptoms, and becoming acclimated to “adult life.” 

But on a tough day when her medication isn’t working, Yeager can struggle with maintaining a calendar, processing paperwork, and focusing in a writers room. “I actually give a lot of credit to my brain for allowing me to create the way it does,” Yeager said. “It’s harder with the admin side than it is with the creative side. It is upsetting when I get into a room that I've been really excited to get into and my brain is just like, here, there and everywhere.”

“So I tried to do as much as I can to not have that happen,” she continued. “I get the right amount of sleep, and I take my meds and I have something in my hands. I come in prepared with ideas, snacks and water so that I can stay engaged with where I am in this space.”


Yeager’s virality with “Fat” was a “whirlwind,” as she was only three weeks into her recovery from anorexia when her video received over 15 million views on TikTok and Instagram. 

On TikTok, Yeager posted a clip of the song 10 days before its release, and applauding comments came flooding in from fans and celebrities alike, with some people sharing their personal stories in response to her video. But about three to four weeks later, Yeager’s video landed on the “wrong side” of Instagram. Yeager rented an AirBnb with a pool that represented a “middle school pool party,” and recorded an acoustic version of “Fat.” Instagram’s algorithm pushed the video forward, and it began accumulating 1 to 3 million views a day. The comments were vulgar—strangers were criticizing everything about Yeager’s body, weight, and perceived health. In response to the lyrics, “My grandma paid me by the pound / Said I should try to slim it down,” Yeager said people commented things like, “Your grandma’s gonna be at your funeral.” 

“Fat” was in the works before Yeager was diagnosed with anorexia, and as the song took off, Yeager’s mental health team kept reminding her that “recovery is fragile.” But, her team assured her that this was “just engagement,” and praised the virality as promotion for the song rather than a cause for concern. 

Unsure of how to respond to the online hate, Yeager began replying to her commenters with humorous videos. “Somebody called me a “whale,” so I did what I normally do. I went to the pool and I swam and made a video,” Yeager said. “Somebody else was like, ‘I’ll literally pay you to not show up on my feed ever again,’ so I made a video with my Venmo handle. I was like, ‘Please, I'll block you if you've got my money.’”

What people didn’t know, Yeager emphasized, is that she was the most unhealthy at her lowest weight. “When I was my skinniest, that's when my cholesterol was the highest. And now my blood work is normal. Yeah, I gained weight back and I hold space and body grief for that,” Yeager said. “[But] I have been working with my dietician and approaching it [as] body neutrality. I have little post-it notes on my mirror [and] I wake up every day and I see them. I might not read them every day, but they're there.” 

“My body changes every day. My body grows when I grow, my body changes when I change. My stomach helps me walk through the world. Really just neutral statements, rather than just being like, ‘Love yourself,’” she continued. “I might not like the way my body looks today, and that's alright.” 

“Fat” didn’t just open up conversations in the digital space, but allowed her family to have a conversation around Yeager’s body image and childhood. The song addresses her experience growing up with body shame and being encouraged to lose weight for her family, which is evident in the lyrics, “Went to meetings with my mom / The less I ate the more they applauded / Being hungry made me feel so proud / I'm still not full yet ten years out.” 

“My mom took it hard, but after I explained it to her, it’s just been so much better for us. We’ve done so much healing, and I am very grateful for that,” Yeager said. 

Opening those conversations in her own family helped her realize that her parents “thought they were doing the right thing,” as they grew up in the same “diet culture obsessed nature” we were all born into. In the song, there’s no blame on her folks, just a recount of their shared experience. 

“[My parents] also didn't have the benefit of growing up in a time where information was constantly and readily available to them, like we do now. And, the research and therapy is way less stigmatized [now].” Yeager continued. “They tried taking me to dieticians when I was younger and it was all about losing weight. Who would have thought that there would have been an intuitive eating dietician? Not my parents, they didn't know that.”

My parents tried taking me to dieticians when I was younger and it was all about losing weight. Who would have thought that there would have been an intuitive eating dietician?

Yeager’s upcoming EP, Before the Lights Go Out, continues to dive into that vulnerable space. Her soon-to-be-released track, “Edit,” is for “anyone who's ever been in the position of trying to mold and shape and change themselves for somebody else's benefit.” 

“As a queer person, that’s a very real thing that you experience,” Yeager said. “But it’s beyond that, it’s really across all identities." Her favorite lyrics on the song touch on the impossibility of having your truest self shine through in any of your relationships or interactions with other people when you feel  overly perceived or judged in your own body. She sings, “If I cut up the rough draft, will I get myself back? / Replace me till I hate me every time. / I try to regret it, won't give myself the credit. / I feel bad for them. / Because I know they'll regret it. / When they don't get me / They get the edit.”

Yeager feels like people struggle with embracing their full selves, and hopes this song will bring people peace of mind in that. “Maybe if we all realize we’re in this weird little merry-go-round, we all can get off of it,” said Yeager. 

But on days where the ride won’t stop spinning, she’s leaning on her support system––her dog, fiance, and getting enough sleep. 

Before the Lights Go Out will be released in spring of 2024, and she has live shows coming up this month in DC, NYC, Boston, and Philadelphia. 

KEEP UP WITH KATE YEAGER  Website | Instagram | TikTok