SHAPE – Have you ever watched a woman in a movie get a beauty makeover and a new wardrobe and acquire instant confidence (cue the triumphant music)? Sadly, it doesn’t happen like that IRL. Just ask Lily Collins. To celebrate her debut on the cover of Shape, she went to dinner with two elementary school friends after the shoot and reminisced about how awkward they all felt about their bodies as teens. “We wore boys’ board shorts over our swimsuits!” she says. The irony that Collins, 28, was unwaveringly confident and at ease on set all day in one revealing swimsuit after another was not lost on her. “I never dreamed I’d be posing in a bikini on the cover of Shape. It’s a complete 180 for me. It’s a magazine about what it means to be healthy,” she says.
You see, for Collins, the struggle to get healthy was, and still is, real. And she’s refreshingly candid about it. Although she’s fit and radiant now, for more than half a decade she suffered in silence from an eating disorder that had her restricting her intake of food, bingeing and purging, abusing laxatives and diet pills, and perhaps more significantly, hiding it all from her friends and family. But after years of destructive behavior, Collins, who is extremely close to her mom (her dad is musician Phil Collins), realized that she needed to be held accountable. So she came out about her disorder. “My perspective on other people’s view of me was based on this disorder being a secret. But the more open I became about it, the more I was able to be myself,” she says. (More on that here: Lily Collins Reveals Her Past Struggle with Eating Disorders )
Speaking her truth to her inner circle eventually set Collins free to share her story with the world—and because of her journalism background, she had the chops to do it. At 15, she became a correspondent for Elle Girl U.K. (she spent a lot of her childhood in England), and in 2008 she reported on the U.S. presidential election for Nickelodeon. She was later a contributing editor for CosmoGirl and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Her recently published book, Unfiltered, details her experience with her disease and ended up being “even more honest than I was intending,” she says. “I didn’t realize I’d cover so much.” But she was ready to talk. And that’s a good thing, because she has a lot to say. Here are the chapters on her recovery.