(ETX Daily Up) – In “La Grosse”*, Ariane Séguillon recalls her fight against bulimia, a disease whose testimonies are still scarce in France. The French actress, whom we meet daily in the series ‘Tomorrow belongs to us’, has agreed to tell us about her personal experience, her journey and her long road to recovery. Meet.
What motivated the writing of this book?
I just wanted to tell the truth. It started when I announced to the press and on social media that she was bulimic and that she was gaining weight because of this disease. She became public, and some media said a little of everything and anything, such as the fact, for example, that she had lost 45 kilos doing sports. What is false. It can probably happen, but it was not my case since she was bulimic. Then I found myself, in spite of myself, a spokesperson for this disease, and there are so many people who have written to me, who are suffering, that made me want to tell my story. Especially because I was contacted by a publishing house that was looking for someone to talk about the disease, because there are few testimonial books on the subject, so I decided to do it. I finally signed with another publisher, but this allows me to tell the whole truth about what I experienced.
Did the writing also serve as an outlet?
It wasn’t really the point of this book, but it turned out that at length I had the impression of giving birth to a baby. It’s hard to explain, but I put everything into it, even tears, so it ended up being visceral. Basically, though, that’s not why I did it, and I didn’t necessarily feel justified in telling my story this way.
The book is called ‘La Grosse’, a word that is now considered politically incorrect. Why this choice?
On a day-to-day basis, when it is not precisely about being politically correct, it is a term that, on the contrary, comes up very frequently. We hear it everywhere! It is a term that people say among themselves, without any complex. At a ‘trendy’ party, you won’t actually hear it, but on the street, with friends, it happens very often. It is also and above all the name that I have been given for years, and you have to call things by their name. Therefore, it seemed logical to me to title the work in this way.
You speak without taboo about bulimia, a topic that continues in the media. How did the disease interfere with your life?
The disease was necessarily latent, but it totally broke out the day my little brother told me he had cancer. This is really where it all started.
You say in the book that certain events were not associated with a date, but with your weight. Has this become an obsession?
Yes, completely. The only thing that mattered was the weight on my scale, everything else didn’t exist. It was incredible.
What impact have these bouts of bulimia had on your daily life and work?
It had no impact on my work or my daily life for the simple reason that I pretended they didn’t exist. On the other hand, they impacted me, on a personal and intimate level, in my lies, in this need to exist permanently or to justify myself in my weight, but not in front of others since I didn’t tell anyone, and no one knew. People had the discretion not to say anything to me, or to say it behind my back, but I don’t know that.
The dictates imposed on women persist in 2022, and this happens more in the cinema or on television. Have you felt this weight of mandates on a daily basis?
In fact, it happened once when a casting director said to me, “ah, sorry, I thought you were still pretty.” But in my job, I didn’t feel it so much. People don’t say things that openly, so we don’t pay attention. Plus, I was probably lying to myself too, so I wasn’t paying attention to any of it. Finally, it was after that that I realized things.
How did you realize it was a disease?
It’s like drugs, we don’t talk about it and we don’t even think about it. Healing begins the day you realize you are bulimic. Before that, there is no consciousness. But if we really have to talk about that trigger that got me on the road to recovery, it probably came the day I lied to my son about several packages of cakes that had ‘disappeared’. Of course, he had bought them the day before, but I denied it before he presented me with a fait accompli. There I told myself that something had to be done, that I couldn’t lie to my son. From there, I tried many things to try to get out of it, until I finally understood that it was my head that needed to be treated. This is probably the most important thing to understand: this ‘why’, these things to settle in, before attempting an operation, diet or anything else.
Precisely, you have tried several diets, the installation of a balloon, a slimming treatment… without result. Do you know today why these methods have failed?
Simply because he wasn’t ready. We can do whatever we want, if the head doesn’t follow, it’s absolutely useless. And that, I understood pushing the door of the good psychologist. There is a lot of work to be done on yourself, and you have to relearn how to love yourself.
To the women -and men- affected by bulimia, would you say that healing begins with working on oneself, with the help of a psychologist, before starting diets or more serious procedures?
A huge yes, and only one piece of advice: love yourself, nobody can do it for you and listen to yourself, you know yourself better than anyone. Personally, I didn’t lose weight because of my outward beauty, but because she was beginning to have serious health problems, and headed for morbid obesity. It is important to know how these men and women feel and why they want to lose weight. Each case is so different. But if my book can help even one person, it’s because I was right to write it.
* “La Grosse – I am cured but I take care of myself”, Ariane Séguillon, Editions Flammarion.