Camila Mendes
photo: Getty Images

Trigger warning: This article contains references to eating disorders.

Camila Mendes has never shied away from being honest about her own battle with body image

Last year, the Riverdale star told Shape magazine that she dealt with an eating disorder in high school and college. As she began working in the entertainment industry, those struggles reemerged. 

In a new interview with People, Mendes revealed that letting go of everything she had been taught about diet culture helped her create a positive sense of self-acceptance. And these days, she's using her platform to raise awareness and let others in similar situations know that they aren't alone.

Camila Mendes knows how to keep it real.

She's known for being down-to-earth and candid, even about topics that can sometimes be tough to tackle. Case in point: She once called out Cosmopolitan Philippines for its terrible Photoshop job, which seriously shrunk down the waists of Mendes and her Riverdale costar Lili Reinhart when they appeared on the magazine's cover.

She once shared this gem of body positivity and self-love on Instagram.

In an interview with Shape magazine, Mendes discussed her struggle with bulimia.

"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." 

She's previously discussed her struggle with dieting in particular.

"I had such an emotional relationship with food and anxiety about everything I put into my body," Mendes told Shape. "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." 

She even obsessed over eating healthy.

Mendes revealed that she would worry about eating too much of anything, even foods that are considered "good" for you. 

"I was even anxious about healthy food: Did I eat too much of the avocado? Did I have too many fats for one day?" she said. "I was consumed with the details of what I was eating, and I always felt as if I was doing something wrong."

But now she's in a much better place.

In the same interview, Mendes also shared that seeing a therapist and nutritionist changed her perspective on and relationship with food. 

"So much of the anxiety I had about food went away when I started learning more about nutrition," she told Shape. "My nutritionist completely cured my fear of carbs. She also cured my addiction to dieting. I was always on some kind of weird diet, but I haven’t been on one since."

And in a new interview, she discussed her breakup with dieting a bit more.

“I had always thought, ‘Well, if I’m not on a diet, then I’m going to gain weight,'” she told People. “I had a really open conversation with the women at Project Heal, and I realized I needed to give up dieting." 

According to its website, Project Heal is an eating disorder recovery group that "is America’s strongest voice that full recovery from an eating disorder is possible and should be accessible." 

That was a big moment for Mendes.

She said that she took a "leap of faith" when she abandoned diet culture, but ultimately it was a move forward in the right direction.

"It was a moment of, ‘Okay, I’m going to take a leap of faith and see what happens when I stop doing this. Am I going to feel lighter, happier, and free?’ And I really did.”

Nowadays, with diets out of the picture, she doesn't obsess as much over her appearance.

“My body hasn’t changed. I just feel healthier and my mood is lighter,” she told People.  

However, she admitted that she still deals with everyday insecurities that can be hard to shake. "Body acceptance is a big part of my life and something I struggle with on a daily basis," she explained. “I know it’s a never-ending process for me."

Fans, as well as those who work to raise awareness about the prevalence of eating disorders, have applauded her honesty.

Her ongoing struggles inspired her to get involved with Project Heal and to vow to be #DoneWithDieting for good. She has shown us time and time again that speaking up matters because you never know whose life you can change or affect in a positive way. Now that's an icon we can stand behind.

In short: Mendes is always gonna tell it like it is.

And considering how hard authenticity can be to come by in the entertainment industry, we are eternally grateful for her heartfelt voice.

If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.