Profile: Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter was an American singer and further drummer, her instrumental talents being a key component of the duo she formed with her brother, Richard, known as The Carpenters. She was born in March of 1950 and passed away in February of 1983, making her a mere thirty-two years of age when she died.

Karen died from heart failure, a tragedy that was induced by her struggle with Anorexia Nervosa. Her death actually sparked a global awareness and further comprehension of what eating disorders consist of, considering they were not a thoroughly discussed topic in this period, and I believe her death, though extremely tragic, allowed for a beneficial opportunity to present itself; the ability to identify and treat eating disorders.

I did some research on Karen, and I was devastated to learn that she passed shortly after her final hospitalization. She was fed via an intravenous and gained thirty pounds, signaling the possibility of recovery, however, the fluctuations in her state of health put tremendous pressure on her heart and ultimately caused it to fail. It has also been stated that Karen relied on Thyroid medication and laxatives to induce vomiting, actions that undoubtedly put an additional strain on her heart.

Karen’s death was and remains to be a tragedy. Her music and work continue to earn praise and recognition, and she was listed in Rolling Stone’s top 100 greatest singers of all time.

If you are unfamiliar with Karen and her music, I encourage you to check it out. She had a truly unique and remarkable voice, and her devastating illness and death had, in my opinion, purpose. Her passing opened the conversation to diagnose and treat eating disorders, and having dealt with an eating disorder myself, I know how difficult it can be to discuss a topic so incredibly sensitive.

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