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Fiona Apple - a brief annotated biography

The basic text is from the Wikipedia profile plus a few other sites, as noted.
 
Boxes like this contain notes and links to related material on the Talent Development Resources site and blogs, indicating some of the many aspects of her life that may resonate with contemporary artists and other gifted and talented people.

Notes / annotations by site author Douglas Eby.


Fiona Apple is a member of a family rich with roots in entertainment. Born in New York City [in 1977], she is the daughter of singer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart. Her older sister, Amber Taleullah, sings cabaret under the stage name Maude Maggart.

At the age of twelve, Apple was raped upon returning home from school to her mother's apartment. The rape is mentioned subtly in some of her work (as in the song "Sullen Girl"), but is not necessarily a major theme.

Many artists, of course, use their work to express and deal with painful experiences.

Psychologist Stephen A. Diamond, Ph.D. notes in his book, "Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity," that our impulse to be creative "can be understood to some degree as the subjective struggle to give form, structure and constructive expression to inner and outer chaos and conflict."

[From interview: The Psychology of Creativity.]

Related pages:
Abuse & creative expression .. Healing & art


While the media latched onto the story of Apple's dark past experience, the singer said the only reason she even mentioned the rape to an interviewer was because she didn't want it to seem like something of which she should be ashamed.

As a child, there was concern she had anti-social tendencies, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder.

She underwent therapy as a child after telling a childhood friend that she was going to kill herself as well as her older sister Amber...

As I note in my article Cognitive Accommodations to Childhood Sexual Abuse, a survivor of abuse may incorporate into their self-image negative or distorted ideas such as personal "badness" or being wrongfully different or inferior, or experience destructive feelings such as shame and guilt.

Abuse may incite or lead to acting-out, self-injury, substance abuse, depression, eating disorders, low self esteem, social alienation and other mental health and personal challenges.

Other related articles of mine are Shame,
and Bad Seed - Antecedents of Teen Violence.


Another site [Celebrities with Eating Disorders] says Apple became anorexic as a reaction to being raped, and quotes her [from a 1998 Rolling Stone interview]: "I definitely had an eating disorder. What was really frustrating for me was that everyone thought I was anorexic, and I wasn't.

"I was really depressed and self-loathing. For me, it wasn't about being thin, it was about getting rid of the bait attached to my body. A lot of it came from the self-loathing that came from being raped at the point of developing my voluptuousness.

"I just thought that if you had a body and if you had anything on you that would be grabbed, it would be grabbed. So I did purposely get rid of it."

Many girls have conflicts about their sexuality and reactions by others - see the page Sexuality: teen/young adult.

And many talented women have suffered from eating disorders, including actors Scarlett Pomers, Felicity Huffman and Jane Fonda. See the page Eating disorders.


The site Self-Injury: A Struggle - Famous Self-Injurers [among others]
says Apple has self-injured [scratching her arm, biting her lip] and quotes her as explaining it was to "give myself the pain that I need to feel to put the punctuation on this shit that's going inside."

And she added, "Why should I hide shit? Why does [injuring myself] give people a bad opinion of me? It's a reality. A lot of people do it. Courtney Love pulled me aside at a party and showed me her marks."

Public figures that are reported to have engaged in self-injury include Angelina Jolie, Christina Ricci, Princess Diana, Johnny Depp, Courtney Love and others.

[From the page Cutting]


In 1996 Fiona Apple's debut album, Tidal, was released. "Criminal," the third single, became her breakthrough hit. The song reached the top forty on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and garnered a great deal of attention, mostly due to its controversial Mark Romanek-directed music video.

While manager Slater says he considered the clip a "tribute to [director Gregg] Araki and [photographer] Nan Goldin", some interpreted it as a "sex tease".

Years later Apple said: "The shit that got me popular was the stuff that I was not proud of... I wanted to be like every other girl you see in videos, and that's why it's embarrassing." ... Years later, she said that the video fit with the song and that it was "beautiful."

While accepting the 1997 MTV Video Music Award for "Best New Artist", she proclaimed: "This world is bullshit, and you shouldn't model your life on what you think that we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying", referring to the mainstream music industry.

She quoted Maya Angelou: "Go with yourself".

Some considered her remarks hypocritical, seeing a contradiction between her appearance in a risqué music video in only her underwear, and her telling young women to ignore celebrity culture. She was unapologetic, however: "When I have something to say, I'll fuckin' well say it".

Some related pages:
Body image .. Courage / confidence
Fame / celebrity


On her official site www.fiona-apple.com, she writes, "As you may know, I am a girl prone to low-days. I don't know how many times I got to soundcheck, in a grumpy nasty, teary rut.."

On her song Extraordinary machine, the lyrics include: "But I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all the time.... But he's no good at being uncomfortable so he can't stop staying exactly the same..."

Many artists and other talented people experience anxiety and depression - see the pages :


Fiona Apple took six years off from performing before releasing her latest album “Extraordinary Machine” [in 2005].

She says, “I realized that after six years of not doing this kind of stuff, it doesn’t define who I am, and I’ll be just fine without it. It’s not a life-or-death-thing anymore, or at least it doesn’t feel that anymore.

"And I also think it is also getting a little bit more grown up. I’m more secure in who I am and I don’t need everybody’s approval as much (laughs)... As much!"

[From my Women and Talent post Taking a creative renewal break.]

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