The ‘image’ of women with eating disorders are almost always fixated on young white woman who are skeleton thin. But, this is not always the case. Eating disorders don’t discriminate; they can be a dreadful part of anyone’s life.
American actress Karla Mosley wants you to know that people with eating disorders look like her too.
"I'm a woman of color and I certainly didn't know that people like me had eating disorders," she says. "I thought it was a white, rich, female, adolescent disorder."
Only one of those identifiers fits Mosley binged and purged for years. But Mosley, an actor and a regular on the day time soap, The Bold and the Beautiful, is sharing her story of battling bulimia and getting her health back.
She's part of a growing movement of people of color working to raise awareness in their own communities, and among researchers in the field, about how these disorders affect people of all backgrounds — and body types.
Mosley says she struggled for years with obsessive thoughts about food.
"I've experienced so many holidays and social events where I wasn't present with people because I was focusing on what was on the table, what was going in my mouth, then once I ate it, 'Is it going to make me fat the next day?' " she says.
Food haunted her at times. And it comforted her, at others. When she threw up, she says it was a way to purge pent up sadness and anxiety.
She says there was a time in her life when she was throwing up every single night. That was during a period in the early 2000s when she was working on a kids show, and hit rock bottom.
"At night, I was doing this very violent thing by myself, up all night, and during the day, I was smiling and laughing and entertaining children," she recalls. "It was this very strange Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde moment and I was barely keeping it together."
Then her aunt, who was like a second mom, passed away. And, when she got that news, the first thing she did was run to the bathroom to throw up.
Her colleagues were aware this was going on...and begged her to get help.
She did. She sought treatment 16 years ago and she says she has been free from her eating disorders for the past decade.
She says she was lucky to have colleagues who supported her, and she knows not everyone has that luxury. Sharing the story of her eating disorder and her recovery is Mosley's way of giving back and she uses her platform as a black actor with 60,000 Instagram followers.
"My picture shows up in their feed every day, that's a wide range of people ... It's possible that by my telling my story, people can be helped," she says.
Mosley is an ambassador for the largest non-profit in the U.S. helping people affected by eating disorders: The National Eating Disorder Association or NEDA (neda.nationaleatingdisorders.org).
Over the past week, NEDA has been running its annual Eating Disorder Awareness campaign, focused on the theme of inclusivity, with the tagline: Come As You Are.
The organization encourages people to share their stories using the hashtag #ComeAsYouAre.