“I always felt that it was something to be talked about. I just, I didn’t really have the opportunity. It’s not like you really go out with people and start talking about it,” the 43-year-old told Us Weekly exclusively. “But my life is pretty much an open book and if there’s anything going on in my personal life that I think could help anyone or resonate with anyone or make people feel like they’re not alone, I’m so much more than happy to share it. So it’s not that it was easier, I just had the opportunity now and I feel so blessed that I do have the opportunity to talk about it on a platform like this. So I’m happy to do that. … I think what upsets me is when people judge me now based on ideas they have about people who have eating disorders.”
Jackie, who first opened up about her struggles during season 9, cited her costars watching what she eats on the series as something that upsets her.
“Like when people joke about, ‘Well, Jackie doesn’t eat,’ or people watch what I’m eating and they comment. Like that, that’s what upsets me because I don’t like the stereotype surrounding it,” she explained. “But everything I went through, I mean it was terrible, but it doesn’t make me cry now. What makes me upset now is when people judge me based on things that happened in my past.”
In the trailer for the current season of RHONJ, Jackie’s father came under fire for suggesting that her eating disorder was “almost worth it” because she’s “a good inspiration to kids who are heavy.”
“Dad, I almost died,” Jackie replied to her father in the teaser. In another clip, fans saw the Bravo star in tears while chatting with Melissa Gorga about the situation.
Jackie told Us that she was “caught off guard” by her dad’s remark.
“I said to myself, ‘Oh god, like, you are just going to look like such an asshole,’” she admitted. “Obviously my father loves me. Adores me. He would never want me to do something that might lead to my death. That’s not what he was saying. I think I understand that, but I don’t know if other people know that. I think what he was saying is he was acknowledging how upset I was for years, that I was trying to lose this weight. And I was significantly overweight. So I think he knows how much that upset me and I think that he sees how confident and strong I am now, and how good I feel about myself and my body.”
She added that she doesn’t believe her father “understands” how close to death she was.
“Because if he did, I don’t think he’d make that comment. But I also think it shows a real disconnect between older men and young women, and what they understand about a woman’s body,” Jackie told Us. “And I think that plays out in the world today. I think that plays out in politics and everything. And I think that it really is an issue that men don’t understand what a woman might be going through. So I think there were a lot of things. The fact that my daughter was sitting there with me, listening to the conversation also was pretty upsetting to me because I would never want her to think something like that.”
The Real Housewives of New Jersey airs on Bravo Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.
Reporting by Brody Brown
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