Also, coming from a Latinx community, there is constant scrutiny about bodies because of the desire to be closer to whiteness. Unfortunately, that also means being closer to thinness. And some women of color can be sexualized at a young age because they often grow into their curves earlier. This sexualization leads to a desire to shrink oneself in order to stop the uncomfortable attention.
I’ve come so far by watching other people who had already done the work and by creating my own content, showing myself on the internet, and exploring my trauma and wounds. But I have a very specific rule for myself: If I have not processed it, it doesn’t go on the internet. If we’re all having really cathartic experiences and not processing what’s happening, no one’s learning anything. I spend a lot of time talking to my therapist, journaling, and talking to people in my own safe spaces that are not on the internet. This helps me process my experiences enough for them to be helpful for other people.” —Jude Valentin, 23, is a content creator who understands that sharing eating disorder stories comes with immense responsibility.
“I do know is that recovery is possible.”
“I was diagnosed with binge eating disorder in 2015. Initially, I thought the diagnosis was a cure of sorts. I knew what was wrong with me, I didn’t feel so alone, and that was enough for me at that point. Knowing you’re not alone is huge, because a lot of men suffer in silence.
Things did get worse, and I eventually got treatment. There’s a big discussion in the eating disorder community about being ‘recovered’ versus ‘in recovery.’ I believe I will always be in recovery. I’m terrified that if I let go completely, I’ll go back to those ways. In December 2018, for instance, I got out of a relationship and I just felt really bad about myself. Even though I have been in recovery for years, and I’m a NEDA ambassador, and I have a platform, my eating disorder voice in my head started talking to me. The difference is that this time, I didn’t let it spiral. I called my support group that day and said, ‘I need help.’
When I got a modeling contract, my therapist was like, ‘Are you sure this is something that you want to do?’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ She was like, ‘Well, you know, you struggle with your body and you have an eating disorder. What are your thoughts?’ It’s true that modeling has been a challenge—it still is. When I have a shoot, I’ll double up on my therapy sessions because I know that’s something that I need.
I can’t tell you that I love my body every single day. It’s more about body neutrality for me. A lot of people think, especially if you’re a NEDA ambassador, you have everything figured out. The truth is, I don’t. But what I do know is that recovery is possible. If you don’t see that light at the end of the tunnel, don’t worry, because it is there.” —Ryan Sheldon, 32, is a motivational speaker and brawn model who says that, for him, recovery is a practice in staying mindful.
Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.