Jackie Goldschneider is a mom of four who found herself in the public eye after she joined the cast of Real Housewives of New Jersey in Season 9, and returned for Season 13. The former attorney, journalist and twin mom times two (Jonas and Adin are 15 and Hudson and Alexis are 13!) reveals in her new book, that for decades, her life wasn’t reality star glamorous—in fact, she battled a severe eating disorder for decades.
The Weight of Beautiful is a raw memoir of her battle with anorexia, which she hopes gives girls and women who are struggling hope—and inspires them or their loved ones to get them help. “I felt so alone and isolated because no one talked about eating disorders. I hope this book opens up those conversations and begins to take away the shame,” says Jackie, who now lives in Tenafly, NJ, with her family.
We spoke to Jackie about her new book, her reality star turn and how it helped her get help, and more.
Did becoming a mother help you decide to get help?
It actually didn’t; my eating disorder controlled me so horribly I couldn’t connect loving them with loving myself enough to get healthy. Eventually, once I started recovery, I realized what I modeled for them for over a decade. And the fact that they had seen horrible behavior has kept me on the right path. But no, there really weren’t turning points for me because anorexia was a mental illness and I had so many voices in my head that told me I was going to be fat, miserable and unloved [if I gained weight].
You eventually did seek out help from the Renfrew Center. Why?
I was always anorexic, but I had started cutting out more foods and exercising even more while I was on the show. But I only filmed a few hours a week, so I generally could hide it. Plus, many people in my world had disordered eating.
But during the second season, someone started a rumor about my husband, and my home life was consumed by what this rumor did to our family. We had reality show viewers weighing in on if my husband was a good guy or a bad guy, and here’s this guy who didn’t want to do this at all. He did it for me…and I was consumed by guilt.
So if that was a turning point, what was the “aha” moment when you decided to ask for help?
I got thinner and thinner, and had a leg injury, and just collapsed on the floor in pain. I said to myself how long am I going to live if I keep going like this. That was the first time I asked myself what would my life look like if I stopped? And that was the first time I realized it could be better.
How did you ask for help?
The first thing I did was tell my husband. I knew if I told someone a door would be opened even if I wasn’t ready yet.
How are you working to help your kids have a healthy relationship with food?
I have a hard time still talking to them about food because I don’t know if what’s in my head is right…I’m still learning what normal eating habits look like. I have a great relationship with food and don’t stress about it, but I don’t want to get it wrong. I try to model healthy behaviors.
Sounds like you’re doing great. Were your castmates supportive?
It was hard for me to share this with too many people. I did tell Margaret and Melissa about it when I started recovery, and they were very supportive. Everyone though, has been really great; the whole cast has been very kind and told me that they’re proud of me.