By Suzannah Weiss. Photos: Getty Images.
Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil Branson on Downton Abbey and stars in Hulu's Harlots, recently opened up to The Telegraph about struggling with an eating disorder since the age of 14—and how she overcame it.
Despite the fact that 30 million people nationwide are estimated to have an eating disorder, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, a variety of factors keep people who have one from speaking out and seeking help.
"I felt so alone for so long, and I just hid," Findlay said. "And then I started talking and held my head up, and instead of saying sorry, decided to tell myself that I matter."
Through therapy, she got to the root of her disordered eating. “We can feed certain ideas of what beauty is and what success is. There has to come a time where those aren’t the rules any more," she said. "Then we can have a mature conversation about what that is about and about depression.”
Part of Findlay's recovery was realizing that losing weight wasn't going to improve her life—a big realization to arrive at when plenty of social and cultural factors continue to impart the false message that thinner means happier.
"It’s about learning to stand up and say, 'This is me, and that’s OK.' I'm not going to be a better actor if I'm a dress size smaller. It's nothing to do with my brain," she said.
By talking about her eating disorder, Findlay hopes others will feel less pressure to hide theirs. "If you are lucky enough to speak and be heard, it might be something that could be useful to others," she explained. "The more we have brave discussions like that going forward, the easier it is to talk about things, and the less alone we can feel. It’s certainly made me feel less alone."
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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