Kerry Washington has starred in huge hits like Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere, but she’s always been successful at keeping her private life just that — private. So fans truly had no idea what to expect when she announced that she’d be doing a very personal interview with Robin Roberts for 20/20, premiering Sept. 26. Now, in a new clip from the forthcoming interview, Washington has shared that one thing she’ll be talking about is her long struggle with body dysmorphia and an eating disorder.
“By the time I got to college, my relationship with food and my body had become a toxic cycle of self abuse that utilized the tools of starvation, binge eating, body obsession, and compulsive exercise,” Washington shared in the clip, reading an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, Thicker Than Water.
Speaking with Roberts, Washington recalled how good she was at “performing perfect”: controlling her life to the point that she could “party all night” and still maintain good grades and a sparkling image. Washington described herself as “high-functioning,” but said that “the first thing that put me on my knees — like the first time I got on my knees and prayed to some power greater than myself to say like, ‘I can’t do this, I need some help’ — was with my eating disorder.”
“The body dysmorphia, the body hatred, it was beyond my control,” Washington remembered. “[It] really led me to feeling like, ‘I need help from somebody, and something, bigger than me because I’m in trouble and I don’t know how to live with this.’”
It got to the point that Washington said she thought about suicide. “I could feel how the abuse was a way to really hurt myself, as if I didn’t want to be here,” she said. “It scared me that I could want to not be here because I was in so much pain.”
Washington didn’t get into too much detail about her recovery process in the short clip, but noted that her relationship with food is different now. “I wouldn’t say that I never act out with food, it’s just very different now. It’s not to the extreme. There’s no suicidal ideation, that is not where I am anymore … The bottom has gotten a lot higher where just a little discomfort with it is enough for me to know this is a way to check myself.”
As for why she’s choosing to share these details now, Washington said the decision was intentional. “I’ve never wanted to share my private life for the sake of fame or for the sake of attention,” she explained. “But I feel like this sharing is with purpose.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or thoughts of suicidal ideation, text the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or call 988 for immediate help. Visit the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA) website or the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website for more resources.
These inspirational quotes will help you reexamine your own relationship with food:
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