If you have yet to see “Riverdale,” the CW’s spooky modern take on the characters from Archie Comics as they navigate small-town life, you might want to ask yourself what you’re waiting for. If for no other reason, then you need to be watching star-on-the-rise Camila Mendes.
The Brazilian-American actress plays Veronica Lodge, one-half of Archie’s love interests (the other being Betty, of course). Not only has she captured audiences with her portrayal of the iconic character but she’s also gained fans for her honesty about her struggles with bulimia — and recently, she’s been opening up about why she has chosen to be up-front about her bulimia on social media.
The “Riverdale” star appears on the cover of SHAPE magazine’s November issue.
In her latest interview the actress behind the beloved Archie Comics character Veronica opens up about her struggles with bulimia during high school, college, and when she first came to Hollywood — as well as her emotional relationship with food.
“I’ve struggled with bulimia. It happened a little bit in high school and again when I was in college. Then it came back when I started working in this industry with fittings all the time and watching myself on camera,” she explained in the interview “I had such an emotional relationship with food and anxiety about everything I put into my body. 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. 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. I was even anxious about healthy food: Did I eat too much of the avocado? Did I have too many fats for one day? I was consumed with the details of what I was eating, and I always felt as if I was doing something wrong.”
Even despite her struggles with food, the star is working hard to be an inspiration for others struggling with eating disorders.
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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!
Earlier this year, she created the hashtag campaign #DoneWithDieting and is encouraging others to join this movement to end dieting culture and the toxic media narrative around body ideals. “A healthy body is the ideal body type, and that will look different for every person,” she wrote in an Instagram post in February 2018.
“It just felt so necessary for me to speak about those things,” she said. “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. 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.”
Arguably, Mendes’ honesty about her health and struggles with it are what have earned her the loyal fanbase that follows her.
You look absolutely amazing and so so so beautiful. I’m so happy for you cami💜
— Mica (@sarfatishelley) October 11, 2018
After speaking up this week again about the negative thoughts that plague her when it comes to body image and mental illness, her online followers reacted with praise and positivity.
Fans are definitely reacting to her authenticity, whether she’s calling out Hollywood for perpetuating Latinx stereotypes or talking openly about her mental illness.
So thankful we have people like @CamilaMendes opening up about eating disorders and more specifically Bulimia. We need more people like this 👏👏👏
— Maddie Jane Warren (@MaddieJWarren) October 12, 2018
Comments on her Instagram post revealing the SHAPE cover include an outpouring of fan love, such as “Your so beautiful don’t let anyone tell you different 💖” and “You are beautiful, I love you very much, I’m already loving the riverdale season. I really love you.”
Mostly, Mendes’ followers just super grateful for her honesty.
— • liz (@chanelinblack) October 11, 2018
Her words and the reactions of her fans are an example of just how much voices like hers are needed in order to move the conversation of self-acceptance.