Camila Mendes’ on-screen persona, Veronica Lodge, uses her confidence and outspokenness to uncover corruption and fight injustice in “Riverdale.” But in the real world, she’s got her own mission: to focus less on being thin and get back to doing the things she loves.
In a post on her Instagram, the 23-year-old actress pledged to be “done with dieting” after having a life-changing conversation with a naturopath.
“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?” she captions the post. “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.”
Her anxiety about food consumed her thoughts, Mendes explains, leaving little room for her to focus on her passions, which include education, cinema and music. But that stops now.
“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,” she writes.
Mendes argues that our society fails to distinguish between “healthy” and “thin.” While eating nutrient-dense foods and exercising regularly will make you healthier, she says, they won’t automatically make you thinner. And that’s OK.
“I’m sick of the toxic narrative that the media consistently feeds us: that being thin is the ideal body type,” she says. “A healthy body is the ideal body type, and that will look different for every person.”
She penned the post in conjunction with Project HEAL, a nonprofit that provides support to people dealing with eating disorders, as part of the #DoneWithDieting initiative. She aims to encourage her followers to discuss the impact of dieting on their mental health.
This isn’t the first time Mendes has shared her experiences with disordered eating. When she announced her partnership with Project HEAL back in October, she revealed that she watched her sister struggle with an eating disorder growing up and suffered from symptoms herself.
Science has Mendes’ back on this one. Research shows that short-term approaches to dieting rarely work and that 65 percent of dieters gain the weight back within just three years of losing it. On the other hand, losing weight steadily by forming sustainable eating and exercise habits allows your metabolism to adapt and prevents your body from rebounding.
What’s more, changing the way you think about food and your body can help you to lose weight (even if that’s not your goal). Studies have shown that as your body image improves, so does your motivation, confidence in your abilities and self-regulation skills. Take that, body-positivity haters!
Mendes makes a crucial point about the space that dieting takes up in our minds, and her advice is sound: If you’re waiting to be a certain version of yourself to live your life, you might end up waiting forever.
Read more: 20 Times Celebrities Were Our Self-Love Heroes