I already had respect times infinity for Zosia Mamet. She’s an incredible actress who’s kicked ALL the cable television ass with her work on United States of Tara, Mad Men, and, of course, her breakout star turn as Shoshanna Shapiro in Girls. She’s also been so smart and on point in her contribution to the ongoing feminism discussion.
And now, once again, Zosia Mamet steps up to the plate with a brave confession that could make a difference in other women’s lives. The actress recently revealed in the September issue of Glamour magazine (where she pens a column on the regular) that she has a history with eating disorders. As she explains:
“I was told I was fat for the first time when I was eight. I’m not fat; I’ve never been fat. But ever since then, there has been a monster in my brain that tells me I am—that convinces me my clothes don’t fit or that I’ve eaten too much. At times it has forced me to starve myself, to run extra miles, to abuse my body. As a teenager I used to stand in front of the refrigerator late at night staring into that white fluorescent light, debilitated by the war raging inside me: whether to give in to the pitted hunger in my stomach or close the door and go back to bed. I would stand there for hours, opening and closing the door, taking out a piece of food then putting it back in; taking it out, putting it in my mouth, and then spitting it into the garbage. I was only 17, living in misery, waiting to die.”
Finally, Mamet’s father (famed playwright/screenwriter David Mamet) got involved:
“He came home one night from a party, took me by the shoulders, and said, ‘You’re not allowed to die.’ It was the first time I realized this wasn’t all about me. I didn’t care if I died, but my family did. That’s the thing about these kinds of disorders: They’re consuming; they make you egocentric; they’re all you can see.”
Since that night, Mamet has gotten treatment for her disease. She is now at a healthy weight, but she still struggles with the damage the disease has done. She calls herself “an addict in recovery,” and goes on to explain:
“I realize that my obsession will always be with me in some way. For years the voice inside me has gotten louder or quieter at times. It may never disappear completely, but hopefully one day it’ll be so quiet, it’ll only be a whisper and I’ll wonder, ‘Was that just the wind?'”
Mamet makes her agenda crystal-clear in her column: she’s coming clean about her story in the hopes of getting the 30 million other Americans who live with eating disorders to deal with their own “monster,” as she calls her own disease. She’s an advocate for being vocal about this disorder and believes that the first and most important step when it comes to eradicating eating disorders is actually TALKING about our eating disorders:
“I would venture to say it’s a rarity to find a woman without body issues of some sort—not a full-fledged disorder, perhaps, but a skewed view of her body, a dislike of her shape, a desire to be thinner, bustier, taller, different. It’s so common. And yet we’re so ashamed of those feelings that we don’t talk about them. And that’s where we get into trouble.”
A billion props to Mamet for getting straight with herself, using her power and influence for good, and revealing a scary and hard truth about herself as a means of helping others.