The Good Place actor has opened up about her struggle with an eating disorder and body dysmorphia, reflecting on the “sad day”.
Christmas is a time for indulgence. A time for countless mince pies, mistletoe and saying “yes” to just one more glass of bubbles. A time for whipped cream atop of hot chocolate, warm wine and no emails.
However, for those people who struggle with body and eating issues, December – with it’s back-to-back engagements, free flowing liquor and increased focus on food – can be the most difficult time of the year, wracked with anxiety and guilt rather than joy and revelry.
This is something Jamella Jamil knows all too well. Which is why The Good Place actor and I Weigh founder has taken to Twitter to share a photograph of herself on a “sad day”, December 20, 2009, when she was in the grips of an eating disorder and body dysmorphia.
“This was a sad day 10 years ago,” Jamil wrote alongside the image. “I didn’t want to go to the event because I was convinced that I was ‘too fat’ and that I would be publicly fat shamed the next day.”
Jamil revealed that she “only managed to stay for 10 minutes” before leaving the venue, also recalling how “weak” she felt at the time. She added: “Eating disorders/dysmorphia are so wild. I missed my teens/20s.” In an additional tweet, Jamil added that she had sought eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy to overcome her illness.
This isn’t the first time that Jamil has opened up about her own body struggles. In an essay for Stylist, the former guest editor explained how she started dieting from the age of 11 and spent more than two decades weighing herself daily.
“I ended up weighing myself every single day of my life until last year. That’s 21 fucking years of waking up every morning and my entire mood for the dat being determined by the number on a stupid little machine in my bathroom… What a horrifying waste of happiness. What a horrifying waste of time,” the anti-diet advocate wrote.
The holiday period can be extremely difficult for those people who are suffering with eating disorders due to the increased emphasis on food and drink.
“Living with an eating disorder is a constant struggle but Christmas can be particularly challenging with an increased focus on food, drink and big get togethers, while the added pressure of New year resolutions and the bombardment of weight loss messaging is just around the corner,” says Dr Prathiba Chitsabesan, NHS associate clinical director for children and young people’s mental health.
For this reason, the NHS and eating disorder charity Beat have recently published new guidance on how to support people with eating disorders during the festive season, based on first-hand experience from clinicians, patients and parents.
Some of the suggested techniques include serving food as a buffet rather as a sit-down meal, minimising social expectations of people with eating disorders, treating meals on and around Christmas Day as routinely as possible, once dinner is over shifting the focus to other activities, avoiding questions about weight or appetite.
From the 24 December to the 1 of January, Beat’s Helplines will be open every day from 4.00pm – 8.00pm. Anyone in need of support can get in contact via phone, email, anonymous one-to-one webchat or social media messaging.
The Beat Helpline can be reached on 0808 801 0677, or there is a dedicated Youthline for under-18s on 0808 801 0711.The online support groups and one-to-one webchat can be accessed on beateatingdisorders.org.uk.