The 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' star talks to ET about her eating disorder and other revelations in her new book.
In a heartfelt and candid interview with ET's Rachel Smith, The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jackie Goldschneider opens up about her harrowing journey through an eating disorder and the life-threatening ordeal she endured.
The reality TV personality also discusses her upcoming book, The Weight of Beautiful. "It’s equal parts scary and really exciting and liberating," she said. "I'm happy to be a voice of recovery because eating disorders are a topic that's not spoken about nearly enough."
Jackie's struggle with body image began during her teenage years when she gained weight rapidly, prompting harsh comments from peers. "I was very bad to myself," she admitted.
A pivotal moment came when a classmate cruelly remarked, "Don't bother with makeup; it won't help." Those words left a lasting impact on her, reinforcing her belief that she needed to lose weight to be beautiful.
Further intensifying her battle with body image, a doctor's insensitive advice in 1994 steered her towards the dangerous path of extreme dieting.
As she continued to chase the elusive goal of the perfect diet, Jackie's disorder escalated into full-blown anorexia. "I started cutting things out and got so carried away," she revealed. "Anorexia can creep up on you, and suddenly, you wake up one day, scared of food and scared to eat."
Jackie's eventual meeting with her now-husband, Evan Goldschneider, provided a glimmer of hope. He never pressured her to change her body and consistently told her she was beautiful. However, the fear of gaining weight persisted, driving her deeper into the clutches of anorexia.
“I was not thin, I was very much an average sized woman when I met my husband and he never said a word about my body and wanting me to be thinner or he loved the way I looked. He always told me I was beautiful, but I got scared and I didn’t know how to stop losing weight," she told ET.
Describing her struggle, Jackie explained, "Anorexia is not just about food; it's about fear, control, and anxiety. It's about wanting to control things when you feel powerless in other aspects of your life." She emphasized that it's a mental illness that takes over one's life, distorting perceptions of beauty and self-worth.
Throughout her battle, Jackie experienced alarming physical effects. Her heart rate dropped, her blood pressure fell, and her heart struggled to function due to severe muscle loss. "I could have had a heart attack at any point," she revealed.
When asked how close she believed she was to death, Jackie admitted, "I think a few times I was pretty close to having a heart attack. There were days when I couldn't breathe, days I pushed myself beyond my limits because I was so trapped in my routine, and I was so scared."
Remarkably, Jackie's journey toward recovery began on Real Housewives. She acknowledged the importance of having a support system to hold her accountable and admitted she was initially too embarrassed to confide in her husband or friends.
Jackie said that Bravo stepped in and helped her with her recovery. "I mean for all the things that people might wanna say about reality TV, Bravo was amazing. They set me up with a great recovery center and they made sure that I was in good hands. They supported me, they didn't rush me. They really were great."
Today, Jackie is in a great place.
"I think I look great. I'm very happy with my body, but I also tried not to put too much stock in my body itself. If I look in the mirror and I try not to judge how I look based on just on like how my body looks in my clothes," she said. "I know I'm beautiful aside from that or in spite of or even with that. My relationship with food for a very long time, I labeled a lot of things bad or good and I'm having a hard time eating some of the bad foods but slowly I'm doing it, but all my meals now are really normal. I have no social anxiety around food. I never go somewhere and check the menu first. I eat what I like."
Her book, The Weight of Beautiful, which hits shelves Sept. 26, aims to shed light on this often misunderstood mental health condition and provide hope to those who may be suffering in silence.