The 'Salt-N-Pepa' Lifetime Biopic Covers Cheryl James' Eating Disorder [TW]
Even some of the biggest Salt-N-Pepa fans may not know that Cheryl "Salt" James suffered from an eating disorder. Here's how she overcame bulimia.
The Salt-N-Pepa Lifetime biopic premiered on Lifetime on Jan. 23, and the reenactment of the lives of one of the most popular '80s-'90s female rap groups is bound to make Gen-Xers feel all the feels. Salt-N-Pepa stars Laila Odom as Sandra "Pepa" Denton, G.G. Townson as Cheryl "Salt" James, and Monique Jasmine Paul as Dee Dee "DJ Spinderella."
The biopic tells the story about how two college students working at Sears joined forces to create the iconic rap group behind the mega hits, "Shoop," "Let's Talk About Sex," "Push It," "Whatta Man," and others.
The cast playing Salt-N-Pepa even got to meet the real-life group. "It was definitely a fan girl moment. To be little, old me and be in their graces is just nothing you can prepare yourself for," G.G. Townson told Today.
When talking about how she felt about the movie, Cheryl James said, "At the end of the day, what I got from the movie, personally, is a story of triumph, the things we have to go through in any genre, whether it's corporate, whether it's music, and how women keep pushing it."
But there are darker moments in the biopic, too, like when it goes into Cheryl's eating disorder.
What to know about Cheryl from Salt-N-Pepa's eating disorder.
Cheryl "Salt" James suffered from bulimia, a condition in which you binge a large quantity of food and later purge in order to avoid consuming calories. It was so emotionally taxing for Cheryl, that she actually had to take a break from the group.
"It was just difficult, because I felt the pressure of being beautiful and being thin and, you know, satisfying the record company. So, I had to take a break, because fame can be traumatizing," she shared.
The first time Cheryl purged was after she went out with a friend for pancakes. Cheryl says she overrate and then went to the restroom and made herself throw up. “I remember feeling euphoric, satisfied and relieved afterward,” Cheryl said, per BlackDoctor.org.
This came from a place of insecurity and downfall of having millions of eyes on her as she rose to fame. “I felt like the least pretty one. Dee Dee was called the beautiful one, Pepa the super sexy one. What am I?” Cheryl confessed.
Cheryl reportedly had three goals: win a Grammy, maintain her weight at just 115 pounds, and make sure nobody knew about the eating disorder. However, after Cheryl accomplished all three goals, she realized the relationship with her body was unmanageable.
“It was at its worst when I was alone. My mind would go to, ‘What can I eat that is sinful?'" She ate food like pizza, pasta, fries, and cake. She also shared that nobody seemed to notice because she never became "too" thin.
Eventually, she told her boyfriend at the time, producer Gavin Wray, who helped her by taking her to a therapist. Eventually, Cheryl healed by opening up about her struggles and attending church. “For me, the bulimia was about stuffing my emotions. So I stopped suppressing my feelings," she said.
But before Cheryl got help and opened up about her pain, Sandra was actually very upset Cheryl quit the group in 2002.
At the end of the day, while the biopic does examine the harder moments, Cheryl and Sandra hope fans walk away feeling inspired and empowered.
“With this movie, and in everything we do, we want people to be inspired. No matter what, just keep pushing," they told the New York Post.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.