‘I Am Jazz’: Was Jazz’s Eating Disorder the Reason for Her Mom’s Fears About College?

Jazz Jennings of TLC’s I Am Jazz has been open in the past about her binge eating disorder. The 19-year-old trans activist, reality TV star, and LGBT rights advocate has undergone therapy to help her get control of her compulsive eating, as well as to manage her depression and anxiety, but she sometimes still struggles with symptoms.

On the Feb. 3 episode of I Am Jazz Season 6, “The Ex-Factor,” Jazz and her mom, Jeanette Jennings, opened up about Jazz’s mental health and their concerns for the future. While Jazz said she was ready to start a healthier chapter in her life, Jeanette admitted she was concerned about the teen heading off to college on her own without her support system.

Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings | Mike Pont/WireImage

Jazz’s mom admitted she was concerned about her daughter’s eating disorder

On “The Ex-Factor,” Jazz told her mom she was hoping to get in “the best shape of her life.” “I’m done caring about image, I’m beautiful no matter what size I am,” she said, “but in terms of my health, I’m not always very healthy.”

The I Am Jazz star then told Jeanette she recently “fell off the wagon” in terms of her binge eating disorder.

Jazz’s mom wondered if her daughter would ever truly heal from her binge eating disorder, which worsens when she is otherwise stressed or experiences symptoms of depression or anxiety.

“I honestly think that Jazz will never 100 percent fully get rid of the binge eating,” Jeanette admitted, “and I’m really worried about her because there’s many times that Jazz showed us that she has no impulse control.”

And as Jazz chose between Harvard University and Pomona College, Jeanette was getting all the more worried. If she went off on her own, she wondered, would Jazz be able to manage her symptoms?

“Now she’s going off to college, and I’ve always been around,” Jazz’s mom told TLC producers. “Greg [Jazz’s dad] has always been around to help her, guide her through those times that are really rough, and we’re not going to be there anymore.”

It seems like the I Am Jazz star might have agreed with her mom to a degree. Jazz eventually chose Harvard, but deferred her acceptance until the fall of 2020 in order to get into the right mindset and prepare herself physically and emotionally for the stresses of college.

Jazz said she was ready to move into a healthier ‘chapter of her life’

On a brighter note, Jazz opened up to TLC producers about her journey towards better mental health. Her mental journey, she explained, was deeply connected to her physical journey, especially her road to gender confirmation surgery.

“I really feel that this is going to be a new chapter of my life, that there are gonna be a lot of changes,” Jazz said. “Sometimes I could be lazy, and I have a lot of bad habits that I need to remove.”

And the trans rights activist said she finally felt up to the challenge, explaining that throughout her medical transition, she had changed from the inside out as well. “I have gone down a spiritual journey,” Jazz revealed. “The surgery isn’t the end of everything. It’s so much more than just altering your body…There’s still a whole process and a lot of soul searching.”

With the work she’d put into her mind as well as her body and overall wellness, Jazz finally felt able to manage the symptoms of her binge eating disorder more readily.

Jeanette was also concerned about Jazz’s mental health and the aftermath of her surgery

Despite Jazz’s optimism for the future, her mom was still concerned about her daughter becoming fully independent.

When it came to Jazz living on her own at college, Jeanette told a friend on I Am Jazz, she said she had a few key worries beyond her binge eating disorder: her history of depression and her process of vaginal dilation after gender confirmation surgery.

“I’m concerned about Jazz’s mental well-being and her dilation,” Jeanette said. “The minute she leaves my house, we have a dilation problem.”

The I Am Jazz mom said she had sometimes had to push Jazz to maintain her health and her surgical results since her initial procedure, and she worried that her daughter wouldn’t uphold the responsibility on her own.

“I have woken Jazz out of a dead sleep and taken the dilator and put the lubrication on it and said, here, take this and put it in your vagina,” Jeanette revealed. “If not, I will,” she joked.