Zosia Mamet Opens Up About Her Personal Struggles With Eating Disorders
Zosia Mamet’s Shoshanna is, hands down, my favorite part of Girls. Mostly because every time she’s on screen she’s getting drunk and telling Hannah off, or being incredibly awkward, or sometimes dancing to Maroon 5.
But she lost my love last year when she launched a celebrity Kickstarter campaign.The genetically wealthy Mamet wanted $32,000 to shoot a music video with her sister at their family’s cabin, and made the worst, laziest fundraising video I’ve ever seen. The whole thing was so terrible she only raised $2,700.
Now, though, Zosia has completely won me back (I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to know) with her new monthly Glamour column. Her first piece was about how we as women deal with insecurities, and while it read like a Teen Cosmo article, it’s wonderful that she’s using her celebrity to start discussions on these issues.
In this month’s piece, Mamet wrote an extremely personal account of her own body image issues, and her lifelong struggles with eating disorders.
Do you have a secret? Is your secret something that could kill you, a silent gnawing feeling that’s slowly melting you away, little by little, something deadly that nobody else can see? Mine is. And it is this: I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since I was a child. This struggle has been mostly a private one, a war nobody knew was raging inside me. I tried to fight it alone for a long time. And I nearly died.
She chose to open up because “30 million other Americans share the same secret… It’s so common. And yet we’re so ashamed of those feelings that we don’t talk about them. And that’s where we get into trouble.”
Here’s how I think of my eating disorder: I’m an addict in recovery. We’ve brought other addictions into the light; we’ve talked about them, dissected them, made them acceptable issues to discuss and work out. We need to treat eating disorders just as seriously. (What’s different about eating disorders, of course, is that you can’t just avoid food for the rest of your life. You have to eat to live.) Nobody is addressing the fact that so many women wake up in the morning, look at themselves in the mirror, and, out of habit, attack what they see. Maybe that’s not an all-out disorder, but it’s certainly the seed of one. I read a study once that said that more than a third of casual dieters develop pathological eating habits (and of those, up to 25 percent wind up with an eating disorder). Of course, not all of those people will end up deathly ill, but obsession—and doesn’t every diet require some degree of obsessing?—is a slippery slope. Did you know that only one in 10 people who are suffering gets proper treatment? And that eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness?
Zosia first started this battle when she was eight years old, and by the time she was 17 she says she was just “waiting to die.” She credits her father, David “F*ck You” Mamet with saving her life.
My dad eventually got me into treatment. He came home one night from a party, took me by the shoulders, and said, “You’re not allowed to die.” It was the first time I realized this wasn’t all about me. I didn’t care if I died, but my family did. That’s the thing about these kinds of disorders: They’re consuming; they make you egocentric; they’re all you can see.
She also addresses the context that encourages this kind of dangerous body image.
I can’t talk about all of this without bringing up the world we live in. Our culture delivers a real one-two punch: You want to control something, and then society says, “Hey, how about controlling the way you look? Skinny is beautiful.” Your obsession feels justified.
The ultimate question, of course, is “What the hell can we do about this?” Zosia writes that, obviously, we’d all love to change our society’s idea of “ideal” beauty.
So how do we do something as enormous as that? The first step, I think, is for those of us who are suffering to start talking about it: people like me, who have been diagnosed, and people who live in that gray area of “food control issues.” We all suffer in some small way; we are all a little bit ashamed of that second cupcake. Let’s diminish the stigma. Let’s remind one another that we’re beautiful. Maybe you’ll help a friend. Maybe you’ll help yourself. And if you’re reading this and you’re suffering, please know you’re not alone. Tell someone: The people who love you will listen, I promise. And you’ll feel better.
While it may be easy to dismiss this as yet another gorgeous, slim actress telling us to accept ourselves as we are and eat all the cupcakes, it is important to remember that body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and all mental illness do not give a f*ck what you look like or how thin you are. So well done Zosia Mamet for at least broaching the subject.
You can read the full piece here.
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