This Is Hard for Remi Bader to SayThe TikTok star opens up about the frustrating parts of healing.
Since hitting the TikTok scene with hilarious realistic clothing hauls, Remi Bader has become a fashion and beauty industry powerhouse, designing her own collections, attending covetable runways, and going on the most FOMO-inducing press trips. Bader has also made a name for herself as a mental health advocate who doesn’t shy away from sharing the highs and lows of living in a bigger body, healing from an eating disorder, and managing anxiety.
“I know there were a lot of people that went into treatment at the time, saying, ‘I didn't know this was considered an eating disorder, and because of you speaking about it so openly, I put myself into treatment,’” she tells Wondermind. “Things like that make me super happy that I can help other people too.”
But along with those meaningful connections comes the dark side of social media: trolls, endless judgment, and pressure to have all the answers. After about three tumultuous years in the spotlight, Bader is choosing herself and working to find a balance between sharing too much and nothing at all.
Here, she sits down for a mental health check-in and reveals how she’s feeling lately, what treatment for binge-eating disorder was like, and her efforts to build a mental health support team.
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WM: Your social media presence is so open and honest, but you do still have boundaries. How did you find a balance that works for you?
RB: I definitely have changed my mindset from when I started three years ago to now. This year, I'm able to put my mental health first. If there's something [like] binge eating or my eating disorder that I feel won't be beneficial for me to share or [like] I'll get too many opinions on something, then I know that that's better for me not to share. So I'm better at setting boundaries for myself where I think in the beginning I was like, Wow, this is amazing. I could just spill everything I'm feeling. But that sometimes can end up not the best for you mentally.
WM: You've been particularly open about binge eating. What was it like telling your followers about this?
RB: I've been through this whole eating disorder journey the exact same time that I started on social media, so it's kind of gone hand in hand. I definitely shared more about it in the beginning when I didn't know what to do. When I decided to get help and go into a treatment center where I was there for a month, three days a week, three hours a night with no phone, and doing this in person with a group, that made me realize more that I don't need to share every single moment and every single thing I learn or figure out about myself with the world. But then sometimes [I] feel like I want to if something exciting happens or I realize something or I want to help other people, I want to take that [and] share that on social media.
So it's been interesting navigating an eating disorder while having a big following. But I do think it's great that I'm able to decide beforehand—especially because I don't have it all figured out yet—that I'm not ready to share certain things.
I thought I was going to go into the treatment center and have all of my answers within a month and be able to go online and then share that with everyone. And then when I went quiet and was done with the treatment, everyone's like, “Where are your answers? Where's everything you said you were going to share?” I just stayed really quiet because I was like, “Listen guys, I'm so sorry, but I don't have the answers for you. I'm feeling like I failed you all, and I don't want to feel that pressure on myself. I'm just going to wait until I feel like I can share.”
WM: How would you describe your progress today?
RB: Every day is different. I posted a food shopping haul where I was so excited, saying, “Now I feel like I'm able to eat all of these foods I didn't feel like I could before.” But then I ended up bingeing a week later. It's such a journey, and I don't have all the answers. Right now, I'm in the mindset of: OK, sometimes I want to binge. Then my mindset goes to the next day: I want to be super, super healthy. I actually did that this week. I think the good part is I'm able to realize that sooner because [before] I was like, Great. Starting over Monday. The second I had that mindset, I felt restricted again and wanted to binge. So I'm like, No, I can't do that again.
I'm in a current mindset of a little bit of frustration of wanting to do both. I want to heal my eating disorder, but for my health and for a little bit of the physical pain I'm in, I want to lose some weight. I think that's hard for me to say, especially with not wanting to let people down. But deep, deep down, that is how I'm feeling right now. Why can't I do both? I'm still trying to navigate that.
WM: When you reflect on your mental health journey, what’s something you’re proud of overcoming or learning?
RB: I was so anti doing the things I needed to do to really help myself. At a point, my anxiety was so bad when I started on social media, and then a year later, it kind of flared up again. I was very [anti-treatment] because I gained a lot of weight at the time I went on different anxiety medications. I was like, I'm not doing that again.
And then I just think there was a switch in my mind where I was like, I want to help myself first, and I want to put my mental health first. I think [that] was really a year after I blew up on social media. That's when I was able to go to the right doctors and therapists, go back on medication, and find something that truly worked for me … and feel like there's nothing wrong with that.
There's nothing wrong with doing things that make you feel better and that work for you, and you shouldn't be embarrassed by that. Obviously a big thing was me going into treatment and putting my life on hold for a month to put myself first when it comes to the binge-eating disorder and spending all of my time on that. That was something that I didn't want to do but knew I had to do. I'm definitely happy I did that. Even though I don't have all of my answers, it still was beneficial to me.
WM: When you finished treatment, what was that transition like for you?
RB: It was interesting because I wasn't at a residential treatment place where I was away from the world, and I also was still posting and things were going on. … I do think it was really weird from going to having that group support system in person so often to then really being on my own.
That didn't benefit me because you're not really supposed to leave a treatment center, whether you're there residentially or just going in and out, without having a full support system, like a therapist, a dietitian, and a full team around you. I didn't do that because I went away so quickly—I had a work trip. I wanted to go right back to the treatment center [after], and they wouldn't allow me to because once you leave, it's a whole process to get back in.
I've definitely shared this with them, but I don’t think they necessarily set me up with being able to succeed and having those people [to support me]. … I spoke to a lot of people afterward saying that's something they need to make sure you have because a lot of people don't know how to help themselves on their own.
I think I got right back into work and wasn't able to help myself. I got back into bingeing and things like that after the treatment center. But again, I think that made me later on be like, I need to seek out a therapist. I need to seek out a dietitian and these things to be able to get better, which I'm currently doing now. It doesn't mean that everything is figured out, but it's definitely helping.
WM: Are there any mental health stigmas or misconceptions that bug you the most?
RB: One is that eating disorders aren't really considered mental health to some people. I actually just went to a whole thing on this at the United Nations talking about how eating disorders should be a part of World Mental Health Day and be considered mental health. I think a lot of people just don't realize that it's so connected. That is a big thing that I share on my platform and think is super important.
Also just talking about medication and getting the help you need and people being afraid to do that, thinking that it might not be the right thing to do. It might be too hard for them. They don't have the time. … You need to put yourself first and your mental health first because that's the only way you're going to be able to put yourself forward in the best possible way for a job or for people in your life. That was something that I've learned a lot in the past three years.
WM: What else would you like to add about mental health and your story?
RB: When it comes to mental health, there's just so many different bits and pieces for me. I have suffered with super intense anxiety, panic attacks, a nervous tic disorder on and off my whole life, a little bit of depression, and then this binge-eating disorder. Sometimes we think we're a problem when we have all these issues. I used to play myself like, What is wrong with me? Why is there always something wrong with me?
The more [mental health is] talked about, the more it's normalized and we realize that everyone else around us is going through such similar things and similar thoughts. There's nothing wrong with you.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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