Riverdale star Camila Mendes is finally in a happier place after struggling for years with bulimia. Mendes opens up to Shape for the magazine’s November cover story, and explains why she devotes time to discussing her recovery on social media.
The 24-year-old says: "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."
Mendes says she started struggling with bulimia in high school, explaining that she used to see food—especially carbs—as the enemy.
"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 says. "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."
After receiving treatment through a therapist and recruiting a nutritionist, she says it’s gotten better, but she still has tough days.
"The voices in my head never completely go away. They’re just way quieter now."
She adds: "My nutritionist completely cured my fear of carbs. She was like, ‘You need a balanced amount of good, healthy carbs in your life. Have a piece of toast in the morning; have some quinoa at lunch. When you’re eating a little of them all the time, you won’t have this crazy urge to binge. You won’t be scared of carbs anymore because you’re going to realize that eating them isn’t going to make you gain weight.'"
Mendes also gave a shout out to the body positivity community, in which she includes Rihanna. "This body-positivity movement we’re having right now is so amazing, and it’s helping me so much. I’m seeing all these people who I look up to, like Rihanna, open up about their weight fluctuations and loving themselves the way they are. That makes me love myself more too," she says.