‘Love is Blind’ star Deepti Vempati didn’t open up about her eating disorder when her family was growing up


The ‘Love Is Blind’ star opens up about how being open about body image has changed the dynamic of her family. (Photo: Getty Images; designed by Yahoo Life)

It shows is Yahoo Life’s body image series, exploring the journeys of influential and inspiring personalities as they explore what body confidence, body neutrality and self-love mean to them.

Deepti Vempati is a few years away from overnight fame as one of Netflix’s breakout stars from the dating show’s second season love is blind She still calls the experience “the greatest test of my life.”

While the risk of participating in a reality TV show with the premise of falling in love and getting engaged to a stranger before you even see them face to face is obvious, Vempati tells Yahoo Life that the challenge wasn’t about ever being happy with a partner afterward (she ended up walking down the aisle from her short-term fiancé, Abhishek “Shake” Chatterjee). Instead, she was faced with the task of finding the love within herself in a way that would drastically change her life and even her family.

“It was a difficult thing going into the show, especially coming from the culture I come from, where you tend to keep your intimate thoughts to yourself,” she says of her birth in Hyderabad, India, and her childhood in a South Asian household even after moving to Bloomington, Illinois. “So talking about everything you’re going through, your past life, your emotions, really showing your body out there and being vulnerable, that’s been extremely tough. But I realized I had to do it.”

Keeping things to herself, especially when it came to hardships and struggles, was something Vempati says she got good at as a young girl. “I used to live this double life, being this perfect version of myself with my family and then who I really was and what I was going through,” she says.

What she went through was a difficult relationship with her body that eventually led to an eating disorder. Unfortunately, she didn’t see her family members as safe places during this time, so she fought in silence.

“We don’t really talk about delicate or intimate things. So it was hard for me to go up to my family and say, ‘Hey, I don’t feel good about myself,'” she recalls. “Even with exercise and food, I feel like I haven’t developed a good relationship with either of those things. I didn’t know how to deal with it because we couldn’t talk about it in our household.”

The little argument they had about beauty standards made Vempati feel even worse as she grappled with uncertainties about her skin tone because of colorism in India. “If you’re fair-skinned, that means you’re more beautiful. I was naturally darker skinned and loved being outside,” she explains. “It was like, ‘This is what you have to do, to be fair, you have to stay out of the sun, you have to use these types of creams.'”

The dichotomy between her two cultures in Bloomington — living in a South Asian home while attending a mostly white school — highlighted Vempati’s insecurities and contributed to unhealthy behaviors that she says are consistent with bulimia and anorexia. It wasn’t until her sister found out about Vempati’s eating disorder that she had to deal with it.

She did this by turning to self-care practices.

“Although I didn’t get any professional help, I think a lot of the tools I use, like journaling and meditation and exercise, really helped me get out of this. And as I started to see how I felt doing those things, I think that’s when I realized, ‘OK, this is the journey I need to continue to feel better about myself and love myself more ‘”, she says.

Things in Vempati’s life began to change – one of which was her looks as her appreciation for exercise and food developed. Although she spoke about the resulting weight loss on the show, she explains that the journey involved so much more.

“I had worked on myself so much up to that point love is blind. Not only did it look physically fit, even at my most physical condition, I had a lot of body dysmorphia and negative thoughts about myself,” she says. strong person and I had to be able to show myself vulnerable to see more growth in me.

The experience itself allowed Vempati to explore this vulnerability. But it also challenged her to use the tools she developed to stay strong despite body-shaming from both the internet and her partner on the show, which she watched on air. “Are you going to let other people’s opinions dictate how you feel about yourself? Or will you have that confidence within you to shine?” She remembers the thought.

Most importantly, she had the support of family and friends who were learning about her struggles for the first time.

“Honestly, it helped my conversations with my family a lot. And it really impacted them as I was writing my book and writing about all the eating disorders and all the things that I was going through mentally and it made them really sad that I couldn’t come to them,” she says. “They’ve seen the show, they’ve read the book, and we can have more honest conversations where nothing is off the table. We can talk about intimacy, we can talk about body image issues.”

Vempati has also witnessed her mother in particular gaining an awareness and empathy for physical insecurities that she had not previously been able to explore.

“It has changed the way my mother communicates with me in certain aspects. Instead of being very direct with me, she will be very careful about how she expresses things. I think that made such a good impression and changed our relationship so much better,” says Vempati. “It’s amazing for someone who comes from this culture and is so ingrained in coming here and the way to change the way he talks and the way he looks at those tough conversations. It was also a way for them to break down their walls and so it really, really helped us.”

By continuing to talk about body image, colorism and representation – one of which she will be sharing at BodCon 2023 on Sunday – Vempati hopes to empower more people by authentically being themselves.

“I hope to just appear authentic and continue to share my life so people can see that you can look like me – you can be curvier, you can have darker skin, you can be whoever and embrace your uniqueness” , she says. “I just feel so much more confident and stronger with myself. And it’s not just because of my looks. It’s how I feel when I look at myself.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, give us a call National Association for Eating Disorders Hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

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