“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actress shares personal essay about her fight with disordered eating
Actress Stephanie Beatriz is best known for her role as Detective Rosa Diaz on Fox’s comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, where she remains one of the strongest members of the force. While the rest of the cast are often wildly emotional and reactive, Diaz stands opposed as a no-nonsense, confident woman who rarely lets down her guard – even to her colleagues.
In some ways, Beatriz is more like her character than many realize. In public, the actress is a constant source of positivity and an enduring figure of self-confidence and beauty. But, in private, she has her own struggles and insecurities.
As the actress revealed in a personal essay for InStyle, she has lived with disordered eating and body image issues throughout her career.
You wouldn’t know any of this from looking at the promotional images for the show or any pictures of the actress on red carpets. Behind the scenes, however, they are reflective of Beatriz’s trials with her own obsessions with food and body image.
“Here’s how I used to “get ready” for those shoots,” she writes. “I’d stress. I’d look in the mirror and pick apart my body, my face. 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. 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.’”
Like many people living with eating disorders, Beatriz is hard to categorize. While formally recognized labels like “anorexic” or “bulimic” help easily explain the struggles a specific person is dealing with, they hardly reflect the entire spectrum of disordered eating behavior.
“Disordered eating” is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5), and thus is not considered a distinct mental illness. However, disordered eating behavior is widely seen as an early warning sign of developing eating disorders that can last even after clinical recovery. It is also increasingly being used to recognize those who do not easily fit within traditional clinical diagnoses of eating disorders.
“Disordered eating is an umbrella label because eating disorders can be hard to categorize—hell, they can be hard to recognize,” Beatriz explains.
As with many people living with disordered eating, the actress says she used her own restriction and purging of food as a form of “control.” Under the stress and constant public scrutiny of television, Beatriz saw food and her weight as one thing she could personally manage and regulate. But, as she says, her relationship with eating was more out of control than she initially admitted to herself.
“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.”
It was only recently that Beatriz began to admit her eating behaviors and compulsive workouts were restraining her from being actually happy and free. She says she has recently begun pushing herself to ignore the voice telling her she “doesn’t belong” or isn’t “thin enough.”
Gradually, the actress is healing and finding the strength to open up about her personal experiences and struggles. She says she has “started reading again, started seeing other women not as sizes in relation to her own but as beautiful, complex beings. She started talking to friends about her disordered thoughts, and they’re helping her see that she’s a complex, beautiful being, too.”
Of course recovery, especially on your own, is far from easy.
“Every day is f—–g hard with an eating disorder, even when you’re doing better,” Beatriz says. “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.”
Despite how difficult the path to recovery and healthy living is, the actress says she is devoted to seeking her own happiness and recognizing her self-worth. On the eve of taking more promotional photos for the upcoming season of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”, she isn’t purging, restricting, or obsessing over how she will look in the pictures.
Instead, she’s “getting ready for that publicity shoot by eating nourishing, delicious food like green juices and pizza. I’m getting my butt to yoga and barre classes because they make me feel strong and badass. I’m taking care to drink water because it’s great for my skin and it makes me feel good all around. Most importantly, I’m telling myself that I am perfect and lovely just the way I am, even if I start crying as I say it.”
Most importantly, she wants to encourage others out there struggling with a similar inner voice telling them they aren’t good enough to “take some time and talk to your own inner voice.”
“Start teaching her and yourself that you are worthwhile because you are a MARVEL, my dear. You just don’t know it yet.”
If you think you or someone you know may be living with disordered eating, give us a call at (888) 298-4673. We can answer any questions you have and find the right treatment plan for you.