"I would watch every episode and be like, 'Oh my God, my stomach there,'" the actress recalled. "I was so insecure and it really fueled my eating disorder."
Camila Mendes was dealing with more than just the stress of being one of the breakout stars of a new series blowing up in the cultural zeitgeist. She was battling an eating disorder even as "Riverdale" was blowing up.
The actress, who has portrayed Veronica Lodge since the show's 2017 premiere, opened up on with host Eileen Kelly on the "Going Mental" podcast about her years of struggle even before landing the hit CW drama.
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"I had [an eating disorder] at various points in my life," Mendes said. "A little bit in high school, towards the end of senior year, and then a little bit in college, and then it came back Season 1 of 'Riverdale.'"
She said it was particularly hard to watch herself back on the show. "I would watch every episode and be like, 'Oh my God, my stomach there,'" the actress shared. "I was so insecure and it really fueled my eating disorder."
Now 28 years old, Mendes shared that she's since learned about how it's normal for the body to continue fluctuating in your 20s as it moves toward its fully adult state. At the time, though, she found every little change consuming her.
"I was looking at myself, taking myself apart, my stomach, you know, my arms, my chin, anything, I would obsess over," she said. "It got in the way of my acting ... It really f---s with your process."
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It also didn't help that she would hear from people thinks like, "You look so good," when she would lose weight. "When I don't hear it, I think I look terrible," she said. "When no one's commenting on how think I look."
Luckily, she started working with a therapist and nutritionist to regain control of her life, and get over her fear of carbs, which she said she was "really afraid of eating." The problem, though, is that fear created a vicious cycle.
"I would avoid it for a long period of time, and then I would binge and eat a bunch and then purge," she said. Through the careful reintroduction of bread into her life, she said it "rarely" now comes up in her therapy.
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The actress partnered with Project HEAL in 2017, which is an organization that raises money to help people struggling with eating disorders. In an Instagram post at the time, she said she was drawn to the nonprofit after watching her older sister's struggles, and living through her own.
A year later in another Instagram post, she declared herself "done with dieting," noting that she's been learning the distinction between being healthier through better food choices and exercise and chasing this idea that she must be thinner to be healthy.
"When did thin become more important than being healthy?" she captioned that post. "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."
Mendes continues on "Riverdale" -- which has really gotten crazy in recent years -- kicking off its seventh and final season March 29, 2023 on The CW.