Actress Ashley Rickards Reveals Struggle With 'Monster' Eating Disorder

By May Wilkerson 03/24/15

The star of MTV's Awkward talked candidly about her struggles with eating disorders in her new book.

Ashley Rickards

Ashley Rickards, star of MTV show Awkward, talks candidly about her struggle with eating disorders in her new book, A Real Guide to Getting It Together Once and For All.

The 22-year-old actress traces her “monster eating disorder” back to age seven, when she began binge eating. A neighbor’s comment when she was nine years old triggered a spiral into unhealthy behavior and negative body image.

"I was chubby, and a neighbor of mine said, 'We don’t need to go to Krispy Kreme, you've got a jelly roll right there!'" Rickards tells People magazine. "This sort of dysmorphic idea of myself is still in my head. I'm still that girl. I still feel like that in a swimsuit."

At 13, she moved to Los Angeles, where she says eating disorders are “rampant.”

"It became a lifestyle choice rather than a disorder,” says Rickards. “You'd go out with your friends all day long, and nobody is like, 'Why aren't we eating?' We're not eating because we have to have our rib cages showing."

The actress began purging regularly, and was hospitalized while filming an early season of Awkward. Doctors figured out she was suffering from an eating disorder, but she says even this medical scare "wasn't enough to scare me into stopping completely."

Her recovery began when she finally reached out for help and sought treatment in therapy. "I really had to meet people who were open about their own struggles, and I had to open up to my cast members and talk about it with them,” she says. “I had to talk about it with my therapist and work on it from a clinical angle, because it's a psychological thing, too."

Today, Rickards says she’s not cured, but is managing the disorder with healthy eating and exercise. "Day to day, it's really the foundational part of a morning routine," she says. "I meditate, I do my affirmations, and I try to work out–and that helps me a lot."

Her goal in writing the book was to encourage other young women to speak out about similar struggles and seek help. "I wanted girls to know it's a very real thing and it comes in so many shapes and sizes," Rickards says. "I wanted to raise awareness about it because it's sort of a taboo subject. I don't want anyone to have to feel alone when they're in that sort of dark, secretive world."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.