SHE’S STRONG AND CONFIDENT, AND SHE’S NOT AFRAID TO SPEAK UP ABOUT HER PERSONAL STRUGGLES. LISTEN IN AS SHE SHARES WHAT SHE’S LEARNED.
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Opposite: Veronica Beard Magda Sweater (www.veronicabeard.com). Vitamin A Sienna bikini bottom (www.vitaminaswim.com). Karen Walker Mrs. Brill sunglasses (www.nordstrom.com). Giuseppe Zanotti Betty platform sandals (www.giuseppezanotti.com).
“There’s nothing I won’t talk about,” says Camila Mendes, 24, who stars in the hit show Riverdale. “I’m open and upfront. I don’t play games.” In October 2017, the actor took to Instagram to share her struggles with an eating disorder and early 2018, she announced that she was done with dieting. “It just felt so necessary for me to speak about those things,” Camila says. “I realised 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. It was deﬁnitely a very vulnerable thing to put that out there to almost 12 million people on social media. But that’s who I am. That’s me being authentically myself.”
The star, who now works with Project Heal, a nonproﬁt-making organisation that raises money to help cover treatment for those with eating disorders and offers recovery support services, is determined to keep using her voice for good. “As actors, yes, we bring joy to people. But for me, it’s also about what I’m doing for the world, what I’m contributing on a larger scale,” Camila says. She credits other strong women with setting a good example. “This body-positivity movement we’re having right now is so amazing, and it’s helping me so much. I’m seeing all these people I look up to, such as Rihanna, open up about their weight ﬂuctuations and loving themselves the way they are. That makes me love myself more too.”
Camila has some strategies for staying strong, focused and happy. And they’ll work for you too.
MAKE TIME FOR WHAT MATTERS
“Working out sets the tone for my day. It puts me immediately in a great mood and makes me feel as if I’ve done something for myself. I try a lot of different classes, but I always come back to yoga and pilates. Those are the workouts that bring me joy. At this point in my life, exercise is the one time when I’m not working. My phone is in a locker, and it’s just my trainer and me, or me in a class. I can completely focus and meditate in an active way. It’s about dedicating time to me, and making myself stronger, healthier and happier.”
FACE FEARS HEAD-ON
“I’ve struggled with bulimia. It happened a little bit in high school and again when I was in college. Then it came back when I started working in this industry, with ﬁttings all the time and watching myself on camera. I had such an emotional relationship with food and anxiety about everything I put into my body. 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. If I ate a sweet, I would be like, 'Oh my God, I’m not going to eat for ﬁve hours now.' I was always punishing myself. I was even anxious about healthy food: Did I eat too much of the avocado? Did I have too many fats for one day? I was consumed with the details of what I was eating and I always felt as if I was doing something wrong.”
ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
“In 2017, I got to a point when I realised I needed to see someone. So I went to a therapist, and she recommended a nutritionist as well, and seeing both of them changed my life. So much of the anxiety I had about food went away when I started learning more about nutrition. My nutritionist completely cured my fear of carbs. She was like, ‘You need a balanced amount of good, healthy carbs in your life. Have a piece of toast in the morning; have some quinoa at lunch. When you’re eating a little of them all the time, you won’t have this crazy urge to binge. You won’t be scared of carbs anymore because you’re going to realise that eating them isn’t going to make you gain weight.’ She also cured my addiction to dieting. I was always on some kind of weird diet, but I haven’t been on one since. I’m very proud of myself.”
FIND YOUR INNER STRENGTH
“Despite it all, I’m pretty conﬁdent. I think it comes naturally in the sense that I’m Brazilian, and there’s an outward conﬁdence that the people there exude. The Brazilian women in my family all really love and respect themselves, and I think that kind of just transferred to me. My natural inclination of being a conﬁdent person helps me cope with the insecurities I have.”
STAND UP TO THE NAYSAYERS
“The voices in my head never completely go away. They’re just way quieter now. Every once in a while, I’ll look at myself in the mirror and think, 'Ugh, I don’t like the way that looks.' But then, I’ll just drop it. I don’t let it consume me. I think it’s natural to judge or be critical of yourself. Everyone does it. But you can make the decision on the spot that you’re going to conquer it. In those moments, I’ll look at myself and say, ‘You’re ﬁne. You look good. This is your prime, so enjoy it.’�”
“MY BODY IS NOT GOING TO BE PERFECT, BUT WHY DO I WANT TO BE PERFECT? WHY WOULD I HOLD MYSELF TO THAT STANDARD?”
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“I FINALLY LEARNED HOW TO SAY NO, AND IT HAS GIVEN ME A CLEAR SENSE OF WHAT MY BOUNDARIES ARE AND WHAT I STAND FOR.”
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TEXT BY PAM O’BRIEN PHOTOS PEGGY SIROTA STYLING BROOKE ELY DANIELSON HAIR ENZO ANGILERI/CLOUTIER REMIX MAKEUP KAYLEEN MCADAMS/STARWORKS ARTISTS, USING CHANEL PALETTE ESSENTIELLE MANICURE STEPHANIE STONE/ FORWARD ARTISTS, USING ESSIE SET STYLING WALTER BARNETT