Riverdale Star Camila Mendes, Opening Up about Sexual Assault, is a Force for Change

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Gracing the cover of this month’s issue of Women’s Health with the headline “Why Her Tattoo Signifies Strength,” Camila Mendes of the hit CW show Riverdale has bravely opened up about being a victim of sexual assault. 

Mendes shared with the magazine that she had been roofied and sexually assaulted during her freshman year of college at New York University. In overcoming the attack and its aftermath, she decided to get a tattoo that would remind her to “strengthen both her sense of self and the environment around her.” The tattoo reads to build a home, embodying her vow to create a safe and comfortable space for herself. She’s been open in the past about her depression and her treatment with therapy. 

Mendes also spoke of her struggles with body image and disordered eating. “When I was a teenager, there were no role models when it came to body positivity — that simply was not a thing. Being thin was the thing.” While she expressed a genuine love for physical activity, she has developed a healthy relationship with what her body is capable of. “It’s health that’s important, not appearance,” she explained. “I make choices that are good for me — and not just in my body — but for my soul, for my mind. And sometimes that’s eating ice cream because I want to eat ice cream.”

Her costar Lili Reinhart — who’ll be hustling alongside J. Lo in this week’s release of Hustlers — has also shared on social media her experiences with anxiety and depression, most recently revealing that she would be getting back into therapy and encouraging others to do the same, regardless of whether they think they fit the profile of someone who “needs help.” As much grief as the media and public gives to Millennials, it’s truly inspiring to see the bravery of these young stars who are willing to shine a light upon their struggles, using their platforms to break the stigma surrounding mental health and trauma.  

Riverdale the show has also been a force for cultural change in how it normalizes LGBTQ people through its casting and storylines for its adolescent audience. Because of this, the cast and creators will be receiving this year’s GLSEN Gamechanger Award for its “groundbreaking storytelling about LGBTQ relationships.” The production will be presented with the honor on October 25th at the GLSEN Respect Awards.

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