Lili Reinhart recalls struggling with body image while filming ‘Riverdale’: ‘I don’t have a perfect CW girl body’

·5-min read

Lili Reinhart is getting real about her lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety.

The Riverdale star, 25, appeared on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, where she spoke about how her mental health journey continues to impact her life.

“Looking back as a child I didn’t want to go to sleepovers, I didn’t want to go to birthday parties,” she said, explaining that now, as an adult, she recognizes these habits as possible early signs of anxiety.

“I was very attached to my mom, like physically clinging to her," she continued. "I hated school. I would cry before school, cried to my teachers, saying, ‘I just want be home.’ So I was a homebody. But I think no one really knew that that was a form of anxiety, like, ‘She’s just a kid, she wants to be with her mom.’”

She added, “I feel like I can handle my depression and my sadness; it’s the anxiety that become unbearable. It feels like this engine inside you that’s running and there’s nowhere for it to go. I’m working on this with my therapist. I have a channeler that I work with, like a psychic, I call her my life coach.”

Reinhart said her anxiety manifested in a multitude of ways as a teenager — including developing a tic disorder as a way to cope with anxiety.

“I did have a weird tic growing up, that was OCD, where I would have to touch different surfaces in three different ways,” she explained. “I would have to touch it with my fingertips, touch it with the back of my nail, and then scratch it with the tip of my nail. So, I would lean down on the sidewalk and tap, tap, tap. Very strange.”

Those obsessive thoughts reached an all-time high when she was cast in the CW's Riverdale — only it transitioned from social anxiety to becoming obsessed with her own body image.

“I just started to gain weight naturally and it felt like I couldn’t get a handle on it," she explained. "I was also simultaneously filming my show, so I couldn’t take a pause and figure this out and then come back to it. So it felt like I was going through this very deeply personal thing with my body in a public way. And that was what was so hard to navigate. I was going through these obsessive thoughts about my body, about what I was eating, about all these things, and I couldn’t do it in the privacy of my own home.”

She continued, “I would have people staring at me, I would feel awful about myself after a fitting. I would text my mom immediately. I was seeing a trainer. I was trying to eat better. I was doing everything I could. It was obsessive. It felt really sad that I couldn’t just step away and take care of myself. I had to keep showing up on camera, and it felt like a big betrayal to my body almost to be like, I’m so sorry we can’t go through this journey in private.”

The comparisons she made about herself to other CW stars were also becoming destructive.

“I don’t have a perfect CW girl body,” she explained. “I grew up in the time of Gossip Girl, where [they] had these beautiful perfect bodies. I just never had that. I’m not built that way and I was trying to craft myself and fit myself into a box that, genetically, I wasn’t inclined to be in."

"It’s been hard," she added, "but that’s why I talk about [body image issues] and I’m vocal about it because I think it’s so weird that not as many celebrities talk about it. It’s such an issue because everyone is insecure. How is there not a more collective conversation, especially within an industry that’s so obsessed with being thin, having this ass, having whatever it is.”

Indeed, Reinhart has spoken routinely about her own body image struggles in efforts to help other women, which has also gotten her into hot water.

In May, she criticized Kim Kardashian after she said she was “starving” herself to lose 16 pounds so she can fit into Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress at the Met Gala.

Back in May, Reinhart criticized Kim Kardashian for seemingly normalizing disordered eating. (Credit: Instafram/Lili Reinhart)
Back in May, Reinhart criticized Kim Kardashian for seemingly normalizing disordered eating. (Credit: Instafram/Lili Reinhart)

"So f****d on 100s of levels," the actress wrote on Instagram at the time. “To openly admit to starving yourself for the sake of the Met Gala. The ignorance is other-worldly and disgusting. Please stop supporting these stupid, harmful celebrities whose entire image revolves around their bodies."

When reflecting back on the post, Reinhart told Shepard that Kardashian’s comments were extremely "triggering" and that she felt an impulse to call her out for the sake of others who struggle with eating disorders.

“I was currently dealing with disordered eating and I saw red,” she explained. “I genuinely thought this was so triggering. It felt like it was normalizing disordered eating to say that — ‘I’m starving.’ Genuinely, those words were said, ‘I’m starving.’ For what?”

The last couple of years have certainly been eye-opening for Reinhart. In August, during a conversation with Jay Shetty on his podcast, On Purpose, she spoke of her intentions to find true happiness in her life.

"I feel the last two years have been a very large spiritual awakening for me," she explained. "I really became awakened to the spiritual side of life and really what wellness means. I thought I knew who I was before and was confident, but really so much of my identity was based off of pleasing other people and putting my identity in other people’s hands."

"I feel that I have been in fight-or-flight mode for most of my life," she continued. "And what that has done to my brain and my body, my mental wellbeing, is if I continue at this rate, catastrophic. I will lose my brain power. I’m basically on this journey right now in my life of trying to calm that down and trying to just simply exist and sit in stillness without feeling like I need to fill a void."

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