Stephanie Beatriz plays Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (I don’t watch it but my mom does, and she says that Beatriz’s character is funny and in a lot of scenes.) Beatriz has been open about the fact that she suffers from disordered eating, something she said she uses to stay thin as an actress. She first posted an Instagram about this issue, after reading a book called Eating in The Light of the Moon, back in May. That’s below. Sh recently wrote an essay for In Style about disordered eating and the way she punishes herself with food and exercise, and I wanted to talk about it. Here’s just an excerpt, and it’s well worth reading in its entirety:
I have an eating disorder. 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 recognize. 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.
I used disordered eating to try to keep myself small. I used my job as an actor under constant scrutiny as an excuse, a reason to hurt myself with food. I often used food to self-medicate, if you will, with a cycle of bingeing and restricting. 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.
Food was both the remedy and the punishment. I thought by controlling what I ate I was controlling my fate, when it was ultimately controlling me.
Disordered eater, I know you. The only way you feel you can keep a grip on your life is to make sure you have three diet cokes before four, one chocolate chip cookie, and a small salad. You only eat certain foods that you’ve deemed “healthy,” and the list of what is okay shrinks every time you read a new book or article on the subject. You eat whatever you want and then spend hours at the gym as a way to counteract it. You eat three meals and two snacks but would rather die than put anything in your mouth that isn’t organic. 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.
Does any of that sound familiar? It does to me. It sounds like the voice that speaks to me over and over in my head. The voice that sounds JUST LIKE ME but DAMN she is mean as hell. She tells me I don’t belong, that I’m not thin enough, that everyone can see how bloated I look after that last meal… And even if I lose the weight, she’s not satisfied…
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. But she simply doesn’t have the language. It’s become the biggest job of my life to teach her how to start dreaming and thinking bigger than her body size. I’m encouraging her to worry and feel, to delve into the deepest parts of herself…
You want in on this? 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.
This essay really hit home for me. I don’t do all of these things and I am not this negative towards myself. However after losing weight a few years ago I still count calories daily, weigh most of my food and weigh myself once a day. While I eat all kinds of food and don’t have restrictions around that, I will often skip a meal and/or exercise more if I eat too much. I do tell myself to get in line if I gain a pound or two. I’ve heard that you need to keep these habits for maintenance reasons and I don’t want to gain the weight back, but of course it’s a control issue. Of course I’m trying to escape from other things that bother me by focusing on this one aspect of my life. I can control what I eat and how much I exercise, even when everything else seems sh-tty and unpredictable. (To be clear I’m not underweight and do not believe I have an eating disorder, but I do have disordered eating habits.)
I also read some of the excerpts available on Amazon for Eating in the Light of the Moon, the book that Beatriz recommended, which was published in 1996. While it’s kind of hokey and I didn’t agree with all of the author’s points about masculine vs. feminine energy, I could relate to so much of it. I learn so much from this job and while sometimes I don’t want to hear it, I need to.
Also, compare this thoughtful essay about how she’s working on these issues to someone like Goop, who tries to convince customers that they need to pay hundreds of dollars for her deprivation diets aimed at whipping your body into submission. Some people will always think their way is the right way while others will strive to grow and learn.
been doing a lot of reading on this trip about #ed and #selflove 💕🌴 @detoxfromsocialmedia recommended an amazing book, "Eating in the Light of the Moon" by Anita Johnston, PH.D. I'm so grateful to be hearing this book's amazing messages of letting go of judgements about myself. I'm learning more about listening to my intuition. As someone who is actively seeking recovery from disordered eating, I'm starting to understand how I kept myself from enjoying life by limiting what I believed was possible for me. I thought I didn't deserve to feel really happy, that I wasn't "worth it" and that I only REALLY deserved it if I was super duper skinny. Somehow if I could achieve THAT, I deserved all the good things around me, and without that I just didn't. So I stopped listening to my instincts, and I used lots of techniques to dull my feelings. but I'm not interested in anything but authenticity rn, and though I'm terrified, I'm super ready to learn more and more about who I am and to celebrate EVERYTHING about myself. mad thanks to my other gurus @jennacokerjones and @mizshawnafit for your guidance along the way, and to @frankiesbikinis for their bomb 👙 💕🌴
Also LOOK AT HER TATTOO OF HER DOG. Ok I’ll stop yelling but this is so cute.
This is my sweet little dog banjo, and this is my tattoo. Banjo has been immortalized as a cartoon on the new Amazon kids animated series @dangerandeggs and I was so flabbergasted that my friend and creative genius/ creator of the show @shadipetosky did that. 💕I had to have that little cartoon version of my pup with me forever. I can't wait for you to watch the show: I even voice his mom, Captain Banjo! have you seen it yet??
Photos credit: WENN and Instagram