In the November issue of Shape, actress Camila Mendes opened up about her history with eating disorders. The Riverdale star explained that throughout high school and college, she struggled with bulimia, and then it came back when she started working in television. Costume fittings, or just seeing herself on camera, would trigger some anxieties she had around her body and food, she told Shape. Additionally, Mendes described being "addicted to dieting."
"I was so scared of carbs that I wouldn't let myself eat bread or rice ever. I’d go a week without eating them, then I would binge on them, and that would make me want to purge," Mendes told Shape. "If I ate a sweet, I would be like, Oh my God, I’m not going to eat for five hours now. I was always punishing myself." Even when eating what she knew to be healthy foods, like avocado, Mendes said she felt like she was doing something wrong.
It's common for people with eating disorders, such as orthorexia, to feel guilt or self-loathing when they stray from their diet, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). And people with bulimia specifically may struggle with feelings of guilt or shame about their habits. This can make seeking treatment seem even more difficult for many individuals.
Mendes told Shape that eventually seeing a therapist and nutritionist was life-changing. "So much of the anxiety I had about food went away when I started learning more about nutrition," she said. For example, her nutritionist explained to her that when you allow yourself to eat intuitively, and not restrict any foods, you won't feel an urge to binge. "I'm very proud of myself," she said about her progress.
Mendes has always been open on social media about her journey to body acceptance, and she now works with Project HEAL, a nonprofit that helps provide treatment for teen girls suffering from eating disorders. Mendes told Shape she hopes talking about her experience with eating disorders will help spread awareness and understanding.
"I realized that I have this platform, and young women and men who look up to me, and there is a tremendous power to do something positive with it," she told Shape. "It was definitely a very vulnerable thing to put that out there to almost 12 million people on social media. But that’s who I am. That’s me being authentically myself."
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.