Reneé Rapp on How the “Mean Girls” Broadway Set Was “Harmful” to Her Eating-Disorder Journey
Image Source: Getty / Kayla Oaddam
Reneé Rapp is coming forward with her experience behind the scenes on the “Mean Girls” Broadway musical set. Speaking with The Guardian in an interview published on Aug. 23, Rapp said staff members from the production, which is being adapted into a movie musical by Tina Fey, body-shamed her during her time on set. The actor, who was 19 and struggling with an eating disorder at the time, added that the crew’s comments exacerbated her health struggles. “[They] would say some vile f*cking things to me about my body,” she said.
“I’ve struggled with an eating disorder my whole life.”
In fact, Rapp said the harmful treatment escalated to the point that her parents had to intervene. Concerned for their daughter’s health, the couple reportedly flew out to New York in an attempt to pull Rapp, who played Regina George, from the show. “Eating disorders don’t just go away and like, you’re healed, like: ‘Sorry, I can eat again, ha ha!'” Rapp said. “It’s a lifelong thing. There are battles with addiction and whatever everywhere. I still struggle with it, but at least my parents know that I’ve been taken out of environments that were really harmful to my sickness, which is awesome and a huge win. They worry like hell, but they’re chilling, I guess.”
On top of the criticism she faced behind the scenes, Rapp said media personnel also made her feel uncomfortable as she frequently had to field questions about playing a “curvy Regina” in interviews. “I was a very mid-size person occupying a space that actually, I don’t really think was mine to take,” she told NME in January.
The pressure to fit into rigid body standards set forth by the musical’s staff took an immense physical and mental toll, Rapp said. Ultimately, though, she found some semblance of peace and healing when she left the production in 2020. Unfortunately, her experience with Hollywood’s unrealistic body-image expectations did not end there.
In the same NME interview, Rapp explained that staff on the “The Sex Lives of College Girls” set also scrutinized her body. “I had comments recently where I said something felt uncomfortable on my body, and someone [who works on the show] said, ‘But it’s so slimming,'” she recalled. “As someone who has struggled with eating disorders pretty much her whole life and was in the thick of one recently, that sends me into a panic attack. I don’t know how I’m properly supposed to go into my workspace when a comment is made to me like that.”
Now, after suffering “in silence for so many years,” Rapp – who just released her debut album, “Snow Angel” – hopes to continue her work with a healthier mindset. “To be super-transparent, I loved doing ‘Mean Girls’ on Broadway, but I was also very sick,” she told NME. “I’ve struggled with an eating disorder my whole life and I had a lot of sh*t happen during that time. And so my biggest thing right now is trying to prepare myself to go into the filming environment with a way healthier mindset. Because I don’t want to fall back into anything.”