Mendes, who plays Veronica Lodge on CW’s melodramatic spin on the Archie comics, said the tight, revealing outfits triggered tears and self-doubt.
“It was like so the opposite of what I like to wear and it was really uncomfortable,” she said Saturday at the PopSugar Play/Ground women’s festival in New York City, per the New York Post. “It made me really insecure, so it got to a point where I couldn’t get through a fitting. Thirty minutes in, I was crying … I was like, ‘Why don’t things fit me a certain way?’”
Mendes, whose eating disorder emerged in high school and continued into college and show business, took a turn for the better when a “Riverdale” production assistant helped her find professional help.
“That’s when everything changed,” she said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “I highly recommend seeing a therapist.”
Mendes said she had previously downplayed the issue to herself.
“I had this mentality … [my sister’s] situation was a lot more serious than mine, so I’d always find comparisons like, ‘Oh, I’m not like that so I must not have an eating disorder like I just purge every once in a while, it’s not a big deal, right?’” she said, per the Post.
The actress noted that her charity work with Project Heal, an organization that helps people recover from eating disorders, helped clarify that she had been in denial about her own problem, The Hollywood Reporter noted.
She shared her struggles online last year and later told Shape: “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.”
In the same December interview, Mendes appeared to have found some relief: “The voices in my head never completely go away. They’re just way quieter now. Every once in a while I’ll look at myself in the mirror and think, Ugh, I don’t like the way that looks. But then I’ll just drop it. I don’t let it consume me.”
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.