I grew up with one of those loving mamis who constantly called me “gordita.” As any slightly chubby Latina girl knows, it’s both a term of endearment and a reminder that you might be carrying a few extra pounds (as I had throughout my entire childhood). For me, the main complaint was my thighs. I couldn’t do anything about it because, honestly, I am just genetically a pear shape — but that never stopped my mom from encouraging my dieting when I was growing up. I wish that I had the guts to stand up and say that I was done with dieting, but it was hard. Now other young girls can look to a famous role model who is speaking up the way I didn’t know how – let’s hear it for Camila Mendes.
The Riverdale star recently posted an incredibly inspiring message on her Instagram, in which she opened up about her anxiety around food and her obsession with dieting. Last October, she revealed that she has struggled with symptoms of an eating disorder and partnered with Project HEAL (which provides grants to those who cannot afford treatment for eating disorders). “I can say from experience that eating disorders are serious mental illnesses,” she wrote on Instagram then. “Growing up, I watched my big sister suffer from one for many years, and I’ve experienced periods in my life when I’ve suffered symptoms as well. I’m joining Project HEAL to help break the stigma associated with eating disorders.”
Now, in a new post on Instagram, the Brazilian-American actress opened up about why she is #DoneWithDieting — and asked her fans to join the movement and share their own stories. Here’s hers:
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!
Unsurprisingly, fans are responding and sharing their own #DoneWithDieting stories on Twitter and Instagram. Some have simply replied to Camila’s instagram post and showed their support for the star:
“that‘s gold and everybody should think like you do!! the ideal of being thin ruins our whole world. so many people are ashamed because of their bodies, but they have to learn to love themselves and what you wrote will help many people out there. you definitely are an inspiration ❤ !!” – toni.cmrc
“Love your text, you got the point. I hope one day there will be more girls (also me) which think like this.” – jelena.schrf
“Yasss! It is 2018 now, we should not chase to be skinny for catering to some people’s aesthetics. Our health matters.” – ia645cmy
— Gaudiani Clinic (@gaudianiclinic) February 16, 2018
My aim is to eat a well balanced diet. Not to deny myself anything. Not to count calories. Fruit, veggies, protein and complex carbs to fuel my body and my mind. Diets are destructive, and I’d rather be fat and healthy. #donewithdieting
— safe work work username (@facetedfae) February 20, 2018
Project HEAL is inviting others to join in on the conversation, too.
We’re asking anyone impacted by destructive dieting to stand up and speak out.
We’re #donewithdieting because the research tells us that it’s ineffective and dangerous.
Why are you? pic.twitter.com/YVVeggDx7p
— Project HEAL (@TheProjectHEAL) February 15, 2018
As for me, I’ve been done with dieting for years. Like Camila, I got to a point where I recognized the unhealthy relationship I had with food — and had to do something to change it. I’m glad to see her speaking up about this campaign and her own struggles with an eating disorder. The hope is that, through more people talking about it, more of us will be able to seek help sooner and develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.