Lily Collins never imagined her selfie-filled Instagram account would turn into a selfless community.
“Girls from all over the world started sharing their insecurities, whether it was with bullying, body issues or dating” the actress, 27, tells Us Weekly. “They were really putting themselves out there and being brave. I thought, if they’re willing to tell their stories, I want to tell mine. They have no idea how much I can connect with them.”
In her “very raw” essay collection, Unfiltered, she opens up about her eating disorder, failed relationships (she’s been ghosted too) and the struggle to find her voice through it all. “These are the stories that create me,” admits the daughter of musician Phil Collins. “It’s who I am. There’s no reason to be afraid or shameful.”
The L.A.-raised beauty gets personal with Us.
Us Weekly: Were there any stories you were hesitant to include?
Lily Collins: Being in an emotionally abusive relationship. I never regretted it, but I felt ashamed. I thought, How could I put myself in that position? I came to a deeper understanding as I was writing. It’s taking the shame out of those things that makes you stronger. I definitely wasn’t planning on being as open about my past with eating disorders, either. I wrote that chapter a week before I got the script for To the Bone [in which she plays a character battling severe anorexia]. That experience really helped me go more in depth with it in the book. I came to a real acceptance of myself. Writing this was definitely the most difficult thing I’ve done to date, but at the end, it was the most gratifying.
Chilled to the bone but feeling so free. What a huge moment this is for me. Owning my past, being open, and having no shame or regrets about my experiences. Sharing my history with eating disorders and how personal this film has been is one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Thank you for all your love and support. I’m sending all of mine right back (especially today!) and remember, you are never ever alone #Unfiltered…
Us: What have you learned from your experiences and insecurities?
LC: It’s not a selfish thing to say, “This relationship isn’t healthy for me.” It’s knowing yourself so well that you can take yourself out of that situation. You can still help and love the person, but you’re putting yourself paramount. I listen to my gut and I’m not afraid to say things that someone may not like. And with an eating disorder, you get used to having that title, being the girl with a problem. It defines you. But when you step outside, you realize how much stronger you are and how titles don’t define you. That’s a really powerful thing to learn. I am enough as myself.
Us: Your dad released his memoir in October. Did he give you any writing tips?
LC: You know, the timing of the memoirs is completely ironic. Because he was writing one that didn’t have any influence on me writing one. And, because this is about me, I didn’t ask for advice. I wrote this without sharing it with anyone. I knew what I wanted and needed to say.
Us: You wrote for magazines when you were younger. Would you ever return to a career in journalism?
LC: I love writing and it’s been such a huge part of who I am. I want to be acting, but I can do both — I was able to write this book and act at the same time. Writing is a great way to connect to other people. It’s so freeing for me to talk about these things that I’ve come to terms with and just get it out there.
For more on Collins, pick up her book, Unfiltered, on shelves now!