Hayley Williams and New Found Glory's Chad Gilbert were married for two years and together for 10

By Karen Mizoguchi
March 13, 2020 02:05 PM
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Hayley Williams is opening up about her past struggles, including the time when she stopped eating.

Speaking with The Guardian in anticipation of the release of her solo album, Petals for Armor, Williams, best known for being the lead singer of Paramore, recalled weighing only 91 lbs. amid her divorce proceedings from New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert.

“I was in a very unhealthy relationship, and I just kept thinking: ‘I can fix it this time,’ ” she said of her romance with Gilbert, whom she was married to for two years and together for 10.

“He probably looks at me like the villain,” Williams shared. “Throwing around my version of someone else’s story doesn’t feel fair, which is funny because I don’t necessarily think it should be fair. Especially not after the s— I went through.”

Williams has previously discussed why she shouldn’t have married Gilbert. And in her Guardian interview, she further explained: “I wanted the whole thing – the family – and I thought I might even stop doing music for a while to do that. Give up the thing that’s the most precious to me? Are you kidding me?”

Hayley Williams and Chad Gilbert in 2014
| Credit: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Amid her divorce, Williams had “developed rashes, stopped eating and her adrenal activity flatlined.” It wasn’t until she saw her thin body in Paramore’s music videos that she realized she needed to change her lifestyle. At the time, her honesty and raw emotions were all poured into Paramore’s fifth studio album, After Laughter.

Reflecting back on her eating struggles during the separation, the star told the publication she weighed six and a half stone (approximately 91 lbs.). “It wasn’t until I saw the pictures that I was like, there’s no hiding that I’m not OK now. And part of me enjoyed that – if people know I’m not OK, they won’t get too close,” she said.

Though her bandmates tried to persuade her to eat while touring (“But it wasn’t really about me. It was about people-pleasing,” she said), her coping mechanisms turned to alcohol amid “looking to break free from a prison that I’d put myself in and to also forget at the same time.”

Hayley Williams
| Credit: Lindsey Byrnes

In a since-deleted split announcement posted on Instagram in July 2017, Williams and Gilbert said that “marriage is not for the faint of heart,” adding, “There is a challenge to trying to understand your own heart in the context of a relationship… and there is goodness in considering another heart, even in spite of your own. Love is an absolute risk. And it’s up to each of us to stay hopeful even when the outcome isn’t what we’d originally hoped for.”

Nearly a year after, in June 2018, wrote an op-ed for Paper magazine, telling fans she “had a wedding ring on, despite breaking off the engagement only months before,” and subsequently “a lot happened within a short time. But then I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I didn’t laugh … for a long time.”

Her creative outlet of songwriting aided her to get back to a healthier place in her life. “It helped me understand that emotional wellness and physical health are actually related. It helped me realize that I shouldn’t have ever married my ex and that love is not something we can just extract from one other,” she wrote at the time. “Writing opened my heart to healing. I’m alive to both pain and joy now. I have my old laugh back, as my mom says. The one that takes over my body and sends me out of myself for a few seconds. And only a couple years ago, I had hoped I’d die.”

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.