‘Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario on Her Eating Disorder and Self-Harm in ‘Seventeen’ Interview

January 6, 2014

‘Pretty Little Liars’ star Troian Bellisario speaks candidly about her struggles with an eating disorder and self-harm in a new interview for a ‘Seventeen’ magazine cover story.

the 28-year-old actress portrays Spencer Hastings on the popular TV drama series ‘Pretty Little Liars’ on ABC Family. Along with gracing the cover of the magazine and posing for a photo spread, she makes some candid and instructive admissions about her past.

Bellisario spoke of her upbringing and the pressures she felt saying, she felt the need “to please my father and mother and wanting to be perfect to everybody.” She revealed the extent to which these pressures impacted her, saying, “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.”

She went on to say, “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 other celebrities, most famously Demi Lovato, have been open about self-harm — also known as cutting — it continues to be a headline-grabbing topic. Yet at the same time, it is still not well understood by those who have not gone through the experience. For those who have not, it’s difficult to understand the kind of pain and other emotions that are difficult to acknowledge and/or express which lead to the self-harming behavior which paradoxically brings momentary relief.

Troian Bellisario went on to talk openly about the pressures and insecurities she still faces to this day, as a cast member of ‘Pretty Little Liars.’ She said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m trying too hard, like I don’t belong. I just look around at Lucy [Hale], Shay [Mitchell], and Ashley [Benson], and I’m just like, Why am I on this show?”

She continued, saying, “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.” Yet at the same time, despite the discomfort she experiences on the set, she reveals that she knows how to dispel these uncomfortable feelings, in a healthy way. She said, “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.”

As she broaches these deep subjects, she reveals that she is overcoming and moving forward, by putting her life and her struggles in perspective, Troian Bellisario spoke of friends and family — “the people who I love and who love me back” — and said that when she feels “down” she looks around and sees “how rich” her life is. She added: “You have to remember what’s most important in life. I am loved by so many people and have a wonderful job. I know I’m incredibly blessed. I am a completely lucky human being.”

More excerpts from the Seventeen magazine interview as well as the photos can be seen here. A behind-the-scenes video of the cover shoot is below.

Pictures: PR Photos

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