Ever since Pretty Little Liars premiered in 2010, the show, while at times can be slightly unrealistic, has covered some real AF teen issues on screen, like coming out, mental health, financial struggles and eating disorders. But it’s not only in the fictional Rosewood that PLL is helping young peeps deal with the everyday struggle of life in high school (and beyond).
The stars of the show have found themselves as role models for their young fans and, while speaking out about about super personal issues, like weight woes, eating disorders and their health regimens can perhaps feel a bit uncomfortable, they realize how their voice can change the world and help someone else who is struggling. Seven of your fave stars of the Freeform hit (which is, sadly, coming to an end soon) have realized that when you’re a star, basically nothing is TMI, and talked about body image issues and more during honest interviews that show just how strong these women (and men!) truly are:
Lucy knows her body is a temple — which is actually why she's quit drinking! The PLL star doesn't drink alcohol because she has "no interest" in the party scene, according to her recent interview with Byrdie, but she's also very thoughtful about her workout regimen.
"I like to run and I work out with a great trainer sometimes. I recently got into hot yoga," she told E! News, "which was, up until a few months ago, like, forbidden! I hate the heat, but having to stand still and relax has been really good for me... I enjoy exercise, I'm lucky in that sense… but I love food just as much as I love working out! It's kind of a good balance."
While nowadays Luce has a great handle on her health and body, she admitted to Cosmopolitan that she used to suffer from an eating disorder. "I've never really talked about this, but I would go days without eating. Or maybe I'd have some fruit and then go to the gym for three hours. I knew I had a problem. It was a gradual process, but I changed myself." We're so proud!
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Sadly, Lucy isn't the only Pretty Little Liars star who has struggled with fighting an eating disorder. Shay may be the Queen of Confidence nowadays, but it was a long road to this point for her.
"I'd starve myself for a day, and the next day I was hungry, tired and miserable. When I felt so bad about not being able to fit into size 0 jeans, I realized I had to make a change," she confessed to Self. She's now learned that "being beautiful doesn't mean being skinny. It's about being healthy." A+ for that advice!
Shay's also very open about how the image that the public gets to see of a celebrity isn't always a clear view of the truth... Instagram filters and makeup teams completely change the game.
In an interview with Shape, she announced how much of the entertainment industry is pure fantasy. "[Instagram]'s not complete reality and I think we need to remember that, especially younger girls. We're bombarded by images all the time — but let's not forget there are filters on filters," she reminded readers. "There's a way that you pose that makes yourself look slimmer. I have a hair and makeup team at all times! It's, like, if I had known that when I was younger, I would have felt a lot better myself growing up, because I was comparing myself to these girls in magazines, not realizing all the work that went into it."
TBH, most of us can relate to that! Luckily, Shay is trying to let her young fans know and change the world one girl at a time!
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Ashley's character, Hanna, struggles with body image issues and an eating disorder on Pretty Little Liars and while the star has admitted she's "still working on" her body confidence, she tries to keep herself grounded when it comes to the unrealistic ideals of beauty in Hollywood.
Ash told Health.com, "It's come up a few times in the last few years, like, 'You're too fat for this.' And I'm just sitting here like, 'Wait, what? Do you want a skeleton?' But I feel good. I don't want to lose 20 pounds, because I don't need to... I get told all the time to lose weight. I got that a month ago. It's just weird." Clearly it takes thick skin to make it in the TV world.
The 27-year-old doesn't think twice about spilling the deets on how her body is somewhat ~atypical~ from the standards in the entertainment biz. "I was just told I was too fat for a part. I'm a size two! I cried for 30 minutes, but then you have to let it roll off your shoulders or it could cause a serious eating disorder," she told Ocean Drive. "A lot of people in this industry hear they need to lose weight more times than they should. It does make you stronger, though. Because if you let that affect you, you can't be in this industry — you'd go crazy."
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Out of the five main PLL girls, the fact that THREE of them have suffered from a serious eating disorder proves that there is something majorly effed up about society.
Troian told Interview that eating disorders aren't always what you think, though. "I found there were so many people who thought that it was about losing weight or being skinny, and I couldn't quite get them to understand that it was about control on a very, very literal level," she said. When she revealed the details of her anorexia to Seventeen, it became all the more clear how her particular ED meddled with her life. "I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school. Being a teenager is chaotic because you're kind of coming into your own, but you're not an adult; you're fighting with your parents over responsibilities and freedom. I didn't know what was right and what was wrong, so I think I created this bizarre system of checks and balances to create order in my world... But it really backfired... I think there's this insane amount of pressure to perform and sometimes when you have an eating disorder, that gets wrapped up in punishment and restriction with food. I definitely went through something like that. Truthfully, I did not address it for a very long time until I was forced to by a very wonderful group of people." Aww, Troi!
While at age 31, Troian is in recovery, that doesn't mean she's 100% out of the woods yet. "Honestly, it's an ongoing struggle. Especially for a woman on a show that has the word 'pretty' in it! Sometimes I feel like I'm trying too hard, like I don't belong. I just look around at Lucy, Shay and Ashley and I'm just like, 'Why am I on this show?' Sometimes I've felt like a fraud. Like, I'm not like these other girls." Girl, you DO belong!
She elaborated on this idea in a convo with The Cut saying, "To be honest, because I have such a complicated history with food, the biggest day-to-day struggle is just making sure I maintain a healthy diet. Even if you are several years into your recovery, whereas some people may just forget to eat or be too busy running around to eat, that is a very significant stress on my mental state, and it links back to some really unhealthy habits."
Not only does she speak about these struggles in interviews, but Troian even made a film called Feed, co-starring Tom Felton, which is based on her own experience with anorexia. It's so empowering to hear Troian open up about her struggles and hopefully her words (and projects!) can help others struggling with food and eating disorders, as well.
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When this PLL girl started getting cyber-bullied by web trolls, she hastily responded to the haters in a Twitter text-post and talked about the importance of loving yourself, while explaining why some may have noticed a change in her image recently.
"I think truly loving yourself is one of the hardest things that we as humans can do. We live in a society that literally profits from our self-doubt and insecurities. Women in particular are judged by their looks whether they are in the spotlight or not," she said. "I've always struggled with weight and in my early teen years I realized health was very important. My whole mindset and lifestyle changed for the better and I was really happy and confident in my body and the way I looked. I was proud that I had gotten to a place I was comfortable in and had done it in a healthy way." She then explained that her body "changed drastically" due to a hormone imbalance far out of her control.
"There was major backlash on social media. People were actually angry that I had gained weight," the actress who plays Alison DiLaurentis continued. "It disturbed me that so many females were so quick to drag me down on a subject we all struggle with." Literally, WTF!
While Sasha shouldn't have even had to explain herself, her words were powerful. She ended her post with some bomb advice that read, "If you don't love yourself you'll continue to chase people who don’t love you either. Eat like you love yourself. Move like you love yourself. Speak like you love yourself. Act like you love yourself. Love yourself." FYI, Sasha, WE LOVE YOU!
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While many may think weight woes and body image are strictly women problems, men have to worry about that kind of stuff, too... especially male celebrities who have to do shirtless scenes all the time!
Ian told Teen.com that the way he viewed his body changed drastically on Season 3 or 4. He said, "I realized, like, man, I do not care about abs. Like, what a useless endeavor." LOL.
He also mentioned he'd rather "train for a marathon, as opposed to 'I need to have that body-fat percentage.' To me, that makes me want to die. You know, caring about that."
The self-proclaimed food-lover has talked about how central eating is to his life and gave The New Potato one important piece of advice: "[Be] honest with yourself about what you eat. As in: Eat whatever the f*ck you want, but if you want to be ripped, then eat for it. If you want to explore different culinary paths, do that. There’s nothing more beautiful than owning who you are, and I think that extends to your plate."
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Tammin may still look like a teenager, but she's actually a 33-year-old mother of one who was asked if she felt any pressure to get her body back after having her son, Phoenix. While a lot of new moms struggle with this, Tammin had a relatively chill attitude about shedding those post-pregnancy pounds.
"My family's very healthy, we've always been into exercise and eating well and doing yoga and meditation so I knew it wouldn’t be that bad. Not that it's not difficult but it wouldn't be something that would take up my whole life. But the first time you're back on set and you have to wear Spanx you’re like well, this has obviously changed a lot from before," she told OK! magazine.
Considering she recently opened up about being an overweight teenager, we give Tammin major props!
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