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Ashley Graham Inspired Camila Mendes to Stop Obsessing Over Being Skinny

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Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

This story originally appeared on HelloGiggles.com by Olivia Harvey.

Riverdale star Camila Mendes appears on the June 2018 cover of Marie Claire Malaysia, and in her interview, Mendes opens up about previous experiences with eating disorders, body image issues, and how model Ashley Graham has inspired her to love herself no matter her size.

According to JustJared.com, the 23-year-old actress revealed that she was “obsessed with being thin” when she was younger, saying, “I always wanted to be lean, and then I went to college, I noticed my body was changing and it made me feel out of control but I didn’t understand it. I thought I was just gaining a lot of weight…at that time there weren’t many voices out there that championed curvier body types.”

Mendes continued, "But now, we see models like Ashley Graham who are encouraging women to embrace being unique, and that made me let go of the standard that was established so long ago — that thin is the only type of beautiful.” (Related: Ashley Graham Is Not Ashamed of Her Cellulite)

Graham, of course, has long been a champion of the body-positivity movement in the modeling industry and beyond. At size 14, she he has graced the covers of Vogue, Glamour, and the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated.

 

dual cover for @marieclairemalaysia shot by @mitchellmccormack

A post shared by camila mendes (@camimendes) on

In February 2018, Mendes shared a candid post on Instagram about her turbulent history with dieting. She declared herself #donewithdieting after realizing she had allowed her obsession with food and thinness to overtake her life.

"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," Mendes wrote in her caption. "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...I’m sick of the toxic narrative that the media consistently feeds us: that being thin is the ideal body type." (Read More: "Riverdale" Actress Camila Mendes Shares Why She's Done with Dieting)

 

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!

A post shared by camila mendes (@camimendes) on

Not only has Mendes been inspired by women like Graham to think differently about her own body, but she wants to help others do the same. In 2017, Mendes partnered with Project HEAL, an organization that helps those struggling with eating disorders pay for treatment. In her Marie Claire Malaysia interview she said it was important to her to work with the organization because there’s a lack of understanding about eating disorders, especially among sufferers.

“There is the common misconception that when you have an eating disorder, you are really skinny, and that is not the case at all, it’s actually quite the opposite,” she said. “People don’t know that you don’t necessarily have to look like you have an eating disorder to have one. And because I was never that skinny, I never thought that I did (have the disorder).” (Related: Lily Collins Explains Why We Need to Stop Our Culture's Obsession with Being "Skinny")

Like Ashley Graham, Camila Mendes is now an inspiration for those struggling with body image issues. If you or someone you love is battling an eating disorder, don’t hesitate to call the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) helpline at (800) 931-2237.

Because our bodies are badass and feeling strong, healthy, and confident is for everyone! Help us spread the body love and be a part of our #LoveMyShape body confidence movement: Post a photo or video on social sharing why you love your shape. And check out Movemeant Foundation, our partner in empowering women and girls to be body positive.

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