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Melissa Archer

Have you ever felt pressure from the media and society to look a certain way? Do you have this ideal body image in your head that you feel you have to live up to? The fact is that a lot of girls have felt like this at one time or another. To help counteract the expectations of “ideal body image,” Melissa Archer, who stars as Natalie Buchanan Banks on “One Life to Live,” began working with the National Eating Disorders Association to help women and girls feel better about themselves. Read her interview to learn about the body image issues that come with working in the entertainment industry and how she’s spreading awareness about eating disorders.

What is it like being an actress in a soap opera?

Being on a soap opera is a very exciting job. First of all I get paid to do what I love to do — act! Every day, I get to come into work and live out my character's life, which is an amazing experience. Being on a soap opera is also hard work. It is very fast-paced, and we learn a lot of lines for one day. Yet, doing what I love makes it so gratifying.

Have you always been interested in acting?

I have been interested in acting since I can remember. I've always loved entertaining, but the acting bug bit me when I was 12.

Being an actress, do you ever feel pressure to look a certain way?

Being an actress definitely puts pressure on one to look a certain way, but the key is finding the healthy way to look one's best.

How do you deal with that kind of pressure?

Learning how to love me and my body has actually taught me how to develop a healthier lifestyle that keeps me fit. I don’t try to be someone else's image of perfection.

Have you ever done anything to change the way you look in order to fit in?

Yes.  In middle school I wanted to fit in with the kids I thought were cool. I bought the same makeup and clothing, and I tried to get my hair to look similar, not realizing that I could have my own look that was so much better for me.

Do you feel like the entertainment industry affects the way girls think about their own bodies?

Absolutely!  We are in a society of aesthetics. Every magazine focuses on beauty or flaws. I don't believe there is anything wrong with having a great body or beautiful skin, but I also think that accepting ourselves makes people beautiful. I think the definition of a great body should be someone who is healthy and happy with who she is as a person.

Have eating disorders affected your life in any way?

I have not had an eating disorder, but I have been affected by the pressures society can put on us. People have expectations of the “ideal body image” in their heads. This can affect everyone, not just people who happen to be in the limelight. It can be a challenge for people (especially women) to be happy with the body they have but it is important to remember that there is no such thing as “ideal body image.” Being comfortable with who you are and going about it in a healthy way is the key to loving the body you have and giving it the respect it deserves.

Tell us about the walk you are participating in with the National Eating Disorders Association.

I’m teaming up with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) by participating in its first national walk scheduled to take place Sunday, October 11, 2009 in Riverside Park in New York City. We’re working together to raise awareness of eating disorders that haunt millions of men and women around the country. Many view these disorders as choices and we are always looking for ways to correct this misperception. I have created a team for the walk — called the Melissa Archer Team — and would love for people to join me in my mission to raise $2,000 for the cause.

What kinds of things do you do to stay healthy?

I exercise and eat sensibly. I don't believe in completely cutting out things you love. We are only given one body and it is important to remember to not take it for granted.


Melissa Archer was born in Dallas, Texas and by age 17 she landed her first role guest starring on "Wishbone" as Becky Thatcher. After high school she followed her dream to act and began auditioning in LA. She studied psychology at Union Institute in California, and says "it helps her get inside her character's head and understand how she relates to others."

She appeared in many commercials before eventually landing her first major role on "One Life to Live." She is also very active in charity work, including providing support for the National Eating Disorders Association, Daytimes Unites for Africa, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the Love Hallie Organization. Alongside her co-stars, Melissa also worked on the "One Life to Live" CD, which helped to raise money for the hurricane victim relief fund.

Melissa currently stars on the ABC daytime drama “One Life to Live” as Natalie Buchanan Banks.

For more information about Melissa’s work with eating disorder awareness, visit the National Eating Disorders Association.

Content last reviewed September 01, 2009
Page last updated September 01, 2009

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.