Over the last couple of years, women have been opening up about the sexual assaults they’ve endured and it’s both inspiring and saddening to see more and more #MeToo posts popping up—whether it’s from friends and family or celebrities—and it succeeded in putting the spotlight on a culture that for too long has excused, protected and empowered men to hurt and harass women.
Now, Riverdale star Camila Mendes is telling her story. In a powerful interview with Women’s Health, the actress revealed that she was assaulted while she was at university. In one of the first photos of the spread, the words “to build a home” can be seen tattooed across her rib cage. Mendes first talks about how she moved around a lot while growing up and how she’s wanted nothing more than stability. But it was more than just having the same roof over her head and also about “safety, security and comfort.” She revealed she got the tattoo after a traumatic incident occurred during her first year at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “I got the tattoo after my freshman year,” she revealed. “I had a very, very bad experience; I was roofied by someone who sexually assaulted me.”
Mendes doesn’t go into detail, whether she knew the person who assaulted her and any legal details or otherwise but she did explain that after what happened she made a vow to ensure “everything in her life would make her feel safe and comfortable” and the ink on her body served as a reminder to “strengthen both her sense of self and the environment around her.” Mendes also said that staying physically active helps whenever she is going through something difficult. “I danced for seven years, from age 4 to 11. Then I did musicals as a kid, then so much of acting school is movement classes and connecting your breath to your body. Activity has always been an important part of my life.”
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officially a healthy woman!!!! thank you @womenshealthmag 🙏🏽✨ this cover means so much to me. it took me a while to view self confidence as a product of physical & mental health, instead of appearance and thinness. i’m grateful for the opportunity to spread that message; i could have used it way earlier in my life. link in bio 🌝
Camila also discussed her struggles with bulimia, which she went public with last year, but admits she’s still working on it with the help of a therapist and nutrionist. “It’s something that’s still a curse to me,” she told Women’s Health. “It’s not like that ever goes away.”
“Whenever I do feel insecure, I go back to health,” she explained. “What can I do that’s healthy? Health is what’s important, not appearance. That mentality is what takes me out of the insecure, anxious thoughts.” Mendes did speak with professionals she trusted to tell her things she didn’t know. “When I was a teenager, there were no role models when it came to body positivity — that simply was not a thing. Being thin was the thing.”
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Fortunately, Camila has gotten to a point where she knows she can’t control what she looks like but can make good choices for her body, mind and soul. “And sometimes that is eating ice cream because I want to eat ice cream because the not eating ice cream before or the not letting myself do things was what really f*cked with my happiness.”
Being able to acknowledge that is a huge accomplishment, one the actress should be proud of, as telling her story about her assault is one more person adding to this ongoing conversation.