Pretty Little Liars Star Troian Bellisario Opens Up About Self-Harm Issues: “It’s an Ongoing Struggle”
Pretty Little Liars star Troian Bellisario (Spencer) isn’t just an amazing actress, but a wonderful role model. In the February 2014 issue of Seventeen, the young star opened up about her eating disorder and self-harm issues she had in high school and continues to struggle with to this day. We’re so proud of this Pretty Little Liar for sharing her struggles in the hopes that her story will help other young people feel like they’re not alone in theirs.
Troian opened up that, as the youngest daughter, she felt that she had to be “the perfect little girl.” Troian said: "So it was about wanting to please my father and mother and wanting to be perfect to everybody. I just thought if I ever expressed to [my parents] any sadness or anger or anything that's going on with me, they would disown me. I kept a lot of it bottled up inside, and it turned into self-destructive behavior."
The Pretty Little Liars star shared that she “started self-harming” during her junior year of high school by withholding food and not going out with her friends based on her academic performance. Troian articulated how hard it can be to be a teenager:
“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 felt this sadness, and I thought if people really knew what was going on inside me, they wouldn't want to hang out with me. So I tried to keep it light and funny."
Though Troian said she worked to keep her struggles a secret from her friends and family, eventually, her friends figured it out. They found Troian’s journal, and told her they were going to tell her parents about her struggles: “That was when my world kind of exploded. It was kind of like an intervention," said Troian. "It made me ask myself, 'What do I really want to be doing? What would make me happy?'"
Does Troian still deal with some of the same issues today? Sure. She told Seventeen: "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—I don't dress like that and I 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."
Troian, we love you — and your black eyeliner and ripped tights! And so do the other Liars. After the magazine was published, words of support streamed in from Troian’s PLL co-stars.
Ashley Benson (Hanna) tweeted: "Wow babe @SleepintheGardn you inspire me. Your @seventeenmag article is amazing. Not to mention you look amazing on the cover. Congrats.”
Shay Mitchell (Emily) Instagrammed: "So proud of my friend/ costar/ older sister @sleepinthegardn 's @seventeenmag cover and inspiring story. You are brave, intelligent and beyond talented. I am so excited to be seeing your face on newsstands everywhere!"