Camila Mendes Explains How Rihanna Helped Her Get Through Bulimia Battle

Camila Mendes is getting candid about what it was like revealing to her fans that she once suffered from an eating disorder.

Looking pretty in pink, the 24-year-old Riverdale star covers the November issue of SHAPE. In her accompanying interview with the magazine, she bravely opens up about her battle with bulimia — and how pop star Rihanna helped her get through it.

“I’ve struggled with bulimia. It happened a little bit in high school and again when I was in college,” she admits. “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,” she continues. “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.”

Mendes says that about a year ago, she started seeing a therapist and speaking with a nutritionist, both who have “changed” her life. She also says that working out has helped her tremendously, and “sets the tone” for her entire day.

“It puts me immediately in a great mood and makes me feel as if I’ve done something for myself,” Mendes explains. “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.”

On top of all that, she also credits Rihanna for being an inspiration to girls everywhere.

“This body positivity movement we’re having right now is so amazing, and it’s helping me so much,” she says. “I’m seeing all these people who I look up to, like Rihanna, open up about their weight fluctuations and loving themselves the way they are. That makes me love myself more too.”

Mendes revealed last October via Instagram that she could “say from experience” that “eating disorders are serious mental illnesses.” She said at the time that she was partnering with Project HEAL to help break the stigma associated with eating disorders.

“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,” Mendes tells SHAPE. “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.”

Mendes adds that although admitting her struggles was scary, she has no regrets about being so candid with her fans.

“It was definitely a very vulnerable thing to put that out there to almost 12 million people on social media,” she confesses. “But that’s who I am. That’s me being authentically myself.”

“There’s nothing I won’t talk about,” she continues. “I’m open and upfront. I don’t play games.”

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