'Awkward's Ashley Rickards Opens Up In A Big Way

Ashley Rickards, the star of MTV's hit series Awkward, is opening up about her experience with Hollywood's uncomfortable truth — the pressure to be skinny and remain skinny at any cost. This hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who's seen the lack of diverse representation of body types in movies and television, but Rickards is taking things a step further by addressing the problem directly in writing by recalling and exploring her own personal story. Ashley Rickards reveals her struggles with an eating disorder in her new book, A Real Guide to Really Getting It Together Once and for All: (Really).

In the book, which is set to be released on March 31 of this year, Rickards writes that she first developed an eating disorder when she was a young teen living in Florida, because she was sick of feeling like the "fat reject." By the time she was 14, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, which further aggravated the already serious problem. "I was praised for being so skinny by stylists, casting directors and even fellow actors. Anorexia became less of an emotional coping strategy and more of a lifestyle choice," Rickards writes.

It got to the point that one doctor told her that her body was "shutting down." She still wasn't able to fully stop the problem, even when her life was at stake. And even now, she is still in recovery. It's obvious just by this one snippet that her writing will be bold and not beat around the bush about the problem. And that's a very positive thing for young women who read the book — to hear the truth.

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Rickards' brutal honesty is just what we need to hear — as both a word of caution of what can go wrong when you lose too much weight, and as a way to connect to other girls who have been there. After all, prioritizing beauty over health can oftentimes be dangerous, and in Rickards' case, even threatened her life. And for girls who, like Rickards, are in recovery, this can inspire them to know that they are not alone and it is a work in progress, even for someone as successful as the actress.

Rickards is certainly not the first star to open up about her personal struggle with an eating disorder, of course. Demi Lovato and Kesha may come to mind when thinking about stars brave enough to speak out against a very real issue that still haunts many famous and non-famous people. But despite these stars words and the ever-growing popularity of the size acceptance movement, it is still considered taboo to tell the world how you really feel about it. And since it is, that's exactly why we need to keep talking about it. Otherwise, young women may begin to think anorexic bodies are the norm and that there is something wrong with them if they don't fit into a certain mold.

Rickards wrote that when she got the book deal, her original plan was to lie about the eating disorder. But since her book was designed to be an honest guide to the teen girl's life, including nutrition, dating, and beauty, among other things, she decided lying wouldn't work. And we're all better off for her honesty.

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