Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jackie Goldschneider shocked fans in 2022 when she admitted that she had battled a two-decades long eating disorder and had reached out to The Renfrew Center for Eating Disorders for help. In the years since she has begun her journey to recovery, and has now released her memoir The Weight of Beautiful, an emotional look back over how childhood habits led to a lifetime of calorie counting and body dysmorphia.
The book details the heartbreaking tips she picked up along the way, that allowed her to – in her eyes – keep herself full eating as little as possible, all as she began a career as a lawyer and later a writer, fell in love with husband Evan, and welcomed two sets of twins via IVF - Jonas and Adin, 15, and Alexis and Hudson, 13.
For HELLO!, Jackie talks about how the response to the book has been incredible and how she hopes it will stop the cycle of generational trauma for her children…
When I was writing The Weight of Beautiful, all the stories really poured out of me but I did have moments where I hesitated to tell certain stories, and then I realized it wouldn't be complete without telling those – especially about the ways that I might have hurt my children. Those parts were hard for me to write and I second guessed what people would think, but I know that those experiences are not exclusively mine. They happen to a lot of people and so even the disturbing ones were important.
They happen to a lot of people and so even the disturbing ones were important.
There was one review that began: "This is an anorexia memoir, full stop." And I had always wondered how sick I was on the spectrum, – 'Oh, I'm not that bad, there are people who are worse than me,' – but to see that review made me realize I really was that bad, and I really did find my way out.
I have conversations about my disorder with my children often; when I decided to go into recovery, I made them watch those Real Housewives of New Jersey episodes so that they understood what I was embarking on, and I also would point out to them, 'Look what mommy's eating now'.
Three of my kids are boys, and the concept of starving yourself is almost foreign to them but I have a 13-year-old daughter, Alexis, and every day that she gets older, she's more and more conscious of her body. She complains about her body sometimes even though she's beautiful, and I struggle to find the right words because I want her to love herself, no matter what, but I also know how hard it was for me to be a young girl.
But after 20 years I still have some weirdness around food and I struggle to find the right words to use so I just try to model really good behavior in front of her, and encourage her to enjoy food, eat everything in moderation and to get physical exercise.
I blamed my mom for a long time for setting me up with this unhealthy relationship with food because she worked a ton but she had a lot of guilt about not being home and gave us food to ease her guilt. It wasn't until recently, and hearing how her grandparents escaped the Holocaust for a Russian refugee camp where her grandfather would trade valuables for potatoes, that her relationship with food made sense to me.
I am 47 now and when you are younger you think that your parents should be perfect people and have all the answers, but later you realize they were just doing their best. I also think about how many times I tried to break my cycle of disastrous relationship with food and the bad habits I probably taught my kids, and how none of it was malicious; it was just all beyond my control.
The editing on the show was understandable but it didn't tell a complete story; I felt like I was doing a disservice to people by leaving the story there, because it made it look like recovery was a lot easier than it really is, and I really didn't want to give that impression.
Since the release of the book, I have had a lot of feedback from people who are struggling and felt like they never had anybody they could talk to about it; I had these moments where I questioned if I had just revealed all my secrets and made myself look crazy for no reason at all, but when I hear the feedback from people who find themselves in my story I remember why I did it.
When I was really going through it with anorexia, I had not one public person that I could look at and say, 'I know you struggled really badly and you're showing me what recovery looks like and it's not a nightmare.' I didn't know what recovery looked like and so I had no faith that anybody as bad as me made it out.
I really want to give that to people.
Evan was very much in favor of me writing the memoir as well, despite his initial concerns when I first joined the show, but I only let him read the book about two months before it came out. I think I was very respectful to him, but also truthful and he really would have done anything for me to recover by that point.
I also worried about what my father would think when I said that he would laugh at old videos of me, and I worried what my mother would think when I said that I blamed her for all of this – but there was no one in my life that had any problem with anything I wrote.
I was also fearful that people would take tips from the book when I shared my experiences; I worried they would think it would help them to lose weight. But what I would like the biggest takeaway of this to be is that eating disorders are a living hell.
They are torture and deadly; you destroy your body.
I thought that I was invincible and I would live to old age no matter what, and I want people to understand that not one bit of it is worth it. You can choose to slowly die or you can choose to recover and live a really beautiful life.
If you or someone you know is battling an eating disorder, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) at 1-800-931-2237 or go to NationalEatingDisorders.org.