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Riverdale‘s Camila Mendes opened up about her past struggles with disordered eating this week as part of a partnership with Project Heal—a nonprofit that offers support to those with eating disorders.
In an Instagram post on Monday, the 23-year-old actor (who plays Veronica on the hit CW series) explained that she recently visited a naturopath for the first time, and quickly realized that she’d been focusing on all the wrong things when it came to her body image. Mendes says she was obsessed with getting thinner instead of considering her overall health, and that she didn’t realize how “consumed” she’d been with dieting until her practitioner asked her to imagine what she could be doing instead with the time she was dedicating to obsessing about her weight.
“I suddenly remembered all the activities I love that used to occupy my time,” she wrote. “Somehow I had stripped myself of all the pastimes that brought me joy, and all that was left of me was my anxiety around food.”
Without realizing it, Mendes explained, she’d allowed her hobbies and interests to fall by the wayside while she focused on going to work and keeping her body as tiny as possible. “I’m done believing in the idea that there’s a thinner, happier version of me on the other side of all the tireless effort,” she wrote. “Your body type is subject to genetics, and while eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising regularly will make you healthier, it will not necessarily make you thinner, and the current system fails to make that distinction. I’m sick of the toxic narrative that the media consistently feeds us: that being thin is the ideal body type. A healthy body is the ideal body type, and that will look different for every person.”
When did being thin become more important than being healthy? I recently went to a naturopath for the first time in my life. I told her about my anxiety around food and my obsession with dieting. She phrased a pivotal question in such a way that struck a chord with me: what other things could you be thinking about if you didn't spend all your time thinking about your diet? I suddenly remembered all the activities I love that used to occupy my time. At some point in my life, I allowed my obsession with being thin to consume me, and I refused to make room in my mind for any other concerns. Somehow I had stripped myself of all the pastimes that brought me joy, and all that was left of me was my anxiety around food. My passion for education, cinema, music, etc. — all the interests that used to occupy my mind — had been eaten away by my desire to be thin, and it made me miserable. I'm done believing in the idea that there's a thinner, happier version of me on the other side of all the tireless effort. Your body type is subject to genetics, and while eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising regularly will make you healthier, it will not necessarily make you thinner, and the current system fails to make that distinction. I’m sick of the toxic narrative that the media consistently feeds us: that being thin is the ideal body type. A healthy body is the ideal body type, and that will look different for every person. I’m #donewithdieting - join me in this movement and share your story!
A post shared by Camila Mendes (@camimendes) on
Mendes went on to invite her young fans to share their own stories and emphasized that her focus is on her overall health now, not just looking a certain way for the camera.
“Our minds can get so contaminated with endless images of perfection, and even if you don’t suffer from an eating disorder, it can’t hurt to incorporate a little body positivity into your routine,” she said. “Take care of yourself in every way that you can.”
You can find more info on Project Heal here.
For more information about eating disorders or to speak with a someone confidentially, contact the National Eating Disorders Organization.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.