“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” star Stephanie Beatriz has opened up about her struggles with disordered eating in a personal essay.
The 36-year-old actress shared her story in a first-person piece for InStyle published Friday. Beatriz, who plays Detective Rosa Diaz in the Fox comedy, described the way her eating disorder manifests in her daily life and invited others with similar anxieties and habits to seek help.
“I’d look in the mirror and pick apart my body, my face,” Beatriz wrote. “I’d zoom in on areas I hated, like my ass or my stomach. And then I’d start the obsessive food restriction and compulsive workouts.”
“You see, I have an eating disorder,” she continued. “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.’”
Bonnie Brennan, senior clinical director of adult services at the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, explained to HuffPost how disordered eating is characterized.
“The term disordered eating is not an official diagnosis separate from eating disorders,” Brennan told HuffPost. “It is a way to describe a relationship with food and/or the body that could or is possibly becoming dysfunctional. Disordered eating may be a gateway into a full-blown eating disorder, can persist during eating disorder recovery and in treatment and is something that one would work to normalize as they work toward wellness.”
“Basically, when one uses eating and body behaviors as a way to get relief from problems and pain, rather than as a way to nourish the body, they may be developing disordered eating,” she added.
Brennan said disordered eating is a part of all eating disorders but every individual may have different patterns. She said specialists look for behaviors or patterns that include eating in a certain order, eliminating certain foods, obsessively counting calories, turning down social invitations to avoid eating certain foods and bingeing only to attempt to “undo” the food with a rigorous workout.
In Beatriz’s essay, the actress revealed that taking publicity photos for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” used to trigger her anxieties when it came to food and her body. The star also opened up about her eating disorder via social media in May.
“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,” she wrote on Instagram. “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.”
Beatriz addressed others who might be suffering from disordered eating and sought to motivate them to take back control of their life and health.
“It’s not easy,” she said. “Every day is f*****g hard with an eating disorder, even when you’re doing better. But it’s worth it to try and get better. Even on the hardest days, when you backslide into old patterns, it’s worth it.”
Read Beatriz’s full personal essay here.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.