• Mon, Jan 6 - 10:52 am ET

Troian Bellisario Talks Eating Disorders And The Unattainable Pretty Little Liars Image

Pretty Little Liars Event

It’s bad enough that they keep finding dead pigs in the trunks of cars and that 90% of their romantic interests turn out to be murderers, but now we know that it’s even harder to be a Pretty Little Liar when the cameras aren’t rolling.

The perpetually gracious Troian Bellisario, 28, who plays over-achieving Spencer Hastings, 18, recently opened up to Seventeen about how much pressure she and her costars endure when it comes to looking flawless at all times. She tells the magazine:

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– I don’t dress like that and don’t know how to do my hair. The minute I’m off that stage, I try to get as ‘me’ as possible. I do that by piling on my black eyeliner, and I put on my ripped tights. Dressing like myself again helps.

I can’t even imagine. While Pretty Little Liars is indisputably the best show on television pretty good, it’s one of those “everyone at this high school school is coincidentally a model” situations. Every character is always dressed impeccably, casually wearing six-inch heels, and waking up in the morning in full hair and makeup. I’d be surprised if the set didn’t feel like a breeding ground for negative body image.

In fact, Troian is now the last of the show’s four stars to speak about the stress of maintaining the Pretty Little Liars image. Lucy Hale, who plays the artsy Aria Montgomery, recently talked about her journey to loving herself post-eating disorder. Last month, Ashley Benson, famous for portraying the outspoken Hanna Marin, called out ABC Family for using way too much photoshop in the promotional photos for the show. Shay Mitchell (the sporty one, Emily Fields) also confessed recently that she’s struggled with anorexia. Blegh.

2013 Teen Choice Awards Press Room

Unfortunately, Troian has been battling with her mental health since before the show started:

I started self-harming when I was a junior. I would withhold food or withhold going out with my friends, based on how well I did that day in school… 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.

While I wish no teenager ever had to feel that way, I hope this quote will resonate with those who do. It’s majorly brave of Troian (and the other three stars) to speak so openly about such delicate topics, and I seriously commend them for making effort to remind their fans that the “perfection” on TV is manufactured and unattainable.

Via Seventeen / Photos: WENN

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    Troian is amazing. She’s always so incredibly well spoken in interviews. It’s sad that she had to deal with those struggles but I’m glad she can speak out about them. Spencer is one of my favorite characters — she’s smart and independent and an awesome leader, and it’s cool that she’s played by someone like Troian. (Troian also stars on that web series on WIGS, ‘Lauren’ about a soldier who is sexually assaulted while serving in the military, and she’s seriously talented)
    On a different note, it’s completely ridiculous how the high schoolers on PLL (who are actually portrayed by people wayyyyy out of high school) are perfectly dressed all the time despite dealing with things that would make the average person completely ignore their appearance. (Though I do have to say I love all of the clothes on the show, and am probably a part of the problem…)

  • Lindsey Conklin

    This makes me sad, but I think what Troian has to say is smart and important. Girls are under so much pressure to be thin—tv icons, or not, and I appreciate her honesty.