Call The Midwife's Jennifer Kirby opens up about eating disorder to "stop cycle of shame"

Megan Sutton
Photo credit: BBC

From Good Housekeeping

Trigger warning: This article features the topic of eating disorders.

Star of Call The Midwife, Jennifer Kirby, has opened up about a difficult topic with fans.

The Nurse Valerie actor shared a candid social media post linked to Eating Disorder Awareness Week, an initiative created by the UK's eating disorder charity BEAT to increase understanding and funds to support people with eating disorders and their families.

"I thought I'd share my own story. There's so much that surrounds this topic, so much stigma and judgement," she started off by saying.

The actor went on to say that her relationship with food has "always been complicated".

"I love it, and it scares me, it comforts me and panics me. How I feel about food has always been irrevocably linked to how I feel about myself - and that's what makes it so confusing."

Photo credit: BBC

Jennifer explained that as a child she received conflicting messages, feeling as though she would be judged for not eating enough but also that she was fat.

Ultimately, she said that her thinness "made me who I was".

Jennifer said her issue came to a head when she was 19 and suffered a "huge loss" that "flipped my problem into the realm of obsession".

She described a period of eating very little, obsessive exercise and forming unhealthy habits to avoid food.

"I would look in the mirror and believe that if I could not be as thin as possible then I was not worth anything. That I did not exist without my characteristic thinness," she said.

With the help of her family and medical professionals, Jennifer was able to recover. However, statistics from BEAT show us that eating disorders and disordered eating are incredibly hard to overcome completely.

The actor said that "the obsession is something I carry with me still, and I believe it will never leave me".

Saying that, she said "it is liveable, and I love love love food".

Jennifer hopes that by opening up about her story, she'll help others.

"I say all this mostly to let you know that if you have a similar story you are so not alone. Sadly this is far from uncommon. With help I have learned to survive and then eventually thrive, with both professional help and the help of my loved ones. Please consider reaching out to someone and stopping the cycle of shame," she concluded her post.

For advice and support about eating disorders you can visit BEAT's website and call their helpline on 0808 801 0677. You can also speak to your GP.

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Photo credit: Hearst Owned

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