Brooklyn Nine-Nine actor Stephanie Beatriz has written a moving essay for InStyle, describing how she has struggled with ‘disordered eating’.
“You see, I have an eating disorder,” she writes. “But like a lot of us, mine is a bit hard to define. I don’t purge, so I’m not a bulimic. I do eat, so I’m not anorexic. I’m what I like to call ‘a disordered eater’.
“Disordered eating is an umbrella label because eating disorders can be hard to categorize—hell, they can be hard to recognise,” Beatriz explains. “Maybe you think restrictive eating just “works” for you because it fits within your budget or it keeps you at a certain size—I did.”
She goes on to say that she used her job as an actor as an excuse to keep herself “small”, and thought that by controlling her food intake, she was controlling her fate.
“I used the size of my ass and flatness of my stomach as the answer to everything that was wrong with my life and why I couldn’t seem to feel really, truly happy.”
Beatriz describes how she would eat whatever she wanted but then spend agonising hours at the gym to make up for it.
“Maybe today you had green juices and a vegan burrito so now you “deserve” a large pizza and chicken bites. But, f---, that means you screwed up so tomorrow it’s only juice all day long.”
While Beatriz says that while the voice in her head will never be satiated—it’s not really food that she’s crying out for.
“I’ve started to figure out that this voice, so focused on weight and body image, is actually desperate to express her creativity, her fears, her desires, and her dreams.”
The 36-year-old says that she’s slowly been encouraging that voice how to start dreaming and think “bigger than her body size”.
“She started reading again, started seeing other women not as sizes in relation to her own but as beautiful, complex beings. She started talking to friends about her disordered thoughts, and they’re helping her see that she’s a complex, beautiful being, too.”
She ends the deeply personal article with some inspiration for others who are facing their own battles with an eating disorder, encouraging them to “take some time and talk to your own little voice”.
“What do you think she’s trying to say when she talks about food or your body? What’s underneath all her control and fear? I bet it’s your best self, just waiting to come out. Bring her to tea; ask her what’s up. It might be damn hard to hear her real thoughts under all that nonsense, but I promise you, it’s easier that letting her, and your disordered eating, run your life.
“Start teaching her and yourself that you are worthwhile because you are a MARVEL, my dear. You just don’t know it yet.”
The National Eating Disorders Collaboration estimates that nine per cent of the Australian population are affected by eating disorders.
It also says that eating and body issues have increased worldwide over the last three decades.
According to its website, a person with an eating disorder may experience long-term impairment, social isolation, disability and an increased risk of death. Eating disorders also impact the individual at risk and often their entire family or social circle.