Anyone who has ever met The Bold and the Beautiful's Karla Mosley (Maya Avant) would think she's extremely self-assured. She oozes the kind of confidence and poise many women dream about. But in a new essay for Glamour magazine, the actress admits that building her self-confidence has been a long and difficult journey -- and the arduous road included an eating disorder that developed when she was just a young girl.
Titled "Yes, Black Women Struggle With Eating Disorders Too," Mosley's essay delves into some of her early thoughts about her identity, including insecurities about the way her body looked and her personality being either "too black" -- or "not black enough."
"The standard of beauty around me was literally impossible for me to achieve. And while I knew I'd never be blonde or white, as my thighs grew bigger, my hips curved, and my butt and stomach rounded, I felt I could -- or should -- control that," she confesses of her high school-aged mentality. "My disordered eating was focused on the bodies I saw around me and on TV. I don't think I understood until recently that what I was trying to erase was the ethnicity, the culture I also longed to be part of."
But Mosley's self-described "dangerous" eating and exercise habits actually started when she was much younger, around the time her parents divorced.
"As a kid you usually can't access the substances other people use to soothe emotional anguish or addiction: drugs, cigarettes, alcohol. And food is generally around and not presented as a danger," she explains. "So I'd overeat when home alone. I'd hide candy to prevent my mom from taking it away, without an understanding that these behaviors could escalate to more harmful ones. I recently found a journal from when I was seven that said I 'needed to exercise' -- I had already started finding ways to counteract what I knew was inappropriate eating."
Mosley's habit of binging, purging, and exercising in excessive amounts continued into her young adult years. Things got so out of control, she almost lost one of her earliest acting roles.
"My employer caught on and gave me an ultimatum: I could get help, or I could leave the show," she admits. "That was fifteen years ago, and the specialist I agreed to speak with then and there saved my life."
She describes that in conjunction with therapy, she made a deal with herself to become healthier and not only accept but love her body.
"Five or six years ago, I made a kind of deal with God. I had lost my period for ten years and I wanted it back so I could start thinking about having kids. I said, 'Okay, I believe that I am supposed to be healthy, and I believe that I am supposed to act and to dance. I believe that both of these things should coexist, but if being healthy means I can't do the work I love, then I choose health first.' And that was a big difference," she shares. "Now that I've made the decision to be a healthy-looking woman on camera, and to not compromise that no matter what, when a thought comes up, I push it aside and I focus on my work. Mostly, I've become curious. When a feeling or thought comes up that in the past could have been destructive, I now look at it. I write about it or dance it out. I pause, I meditate, I throw love on it. And I watch it change."
For more from Mosley on her difficult battle with an eating disorder and how she eventually became healthy and built up her self-confidence, check out her full Glamour essay here.
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