Although I am not a devotee of Pretty Little Liars (it's just not my deal, guys), I'm still able to appreciate the work, beauty, and words of the people in it. And right now, that means tipping my cap to Ashley Benson's body positive interview for South Beach, California's Ocean Drive Magazine. Oftentimes when Ashley Benson is in the news, headlines are attached to her flowing locks or penchant for '90s accessories. But I can appreciate body positivity in any form and from whoever is willing to preach it in a way that feels genuine. And in this interview, the 26-year-old actor's comments contribute to the movement in a massively positive manner.
So if you, like me, came into this article with preconceptions about Pretty Little Liars or the show's stars, please leave them at the door. There's no arguing with Benson's body positive message, and it's no less valid because of her status as a conventionally attractive actor and model. In fact, what I admire most is the empathy and honesty that Benson gives us in this interview. By explaining her own issues and experiences with Photoshopping and body shaming, it's not difficult to see her as a real person, and one with undeniable inner strength.
The first half of the interview covers many juicy details for the upcoming season of Pretty Little Liars, with Benson giving fans of the show enough material to speculate on and stress over before the Jan. 12 premiere. But when Benson moved onto discussing the acting industry and the body image issues it arguably inspires — and not just for herself and other actors, but for those outside of the industry as well — that's when things got juicy for me.
She began by recounting her own issues with body shaming after a rejection for a role. “I was just told I was too fat for a part. I’m a size 2! 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 the publication. "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.”
IMO, her advice is something we can all learn from. Even outside of the acting industry, hearing negative comments about your body or weight can be soul-destroying. But building a thick skin and cultivating your own positive image of yourself regardless of outside stigma are some of the best ways to get by in this life.
Even at a size 2 and undeniably attractive by society's standards, Benson has dealt with body shaming in more than one way. What I especially love about her stance on Photoshopping is that she isn't just thinking of the way seeing herself altered so drastically will affect her own self esteem, but how it could affect the self esteem of anybody who sees it. If not even Benson can live up to the supposedly aspirational ideal of a retouched version of herself, why should anyone else be expected to?
“I saw photos from a shoot of myself just the other day and thought, what the hell? That doesn’t even look like me! I was so disappointed. I hate to think that girls are like, ‘She’s so skinny! Her skin is so perfect!’ I have pimples just like they do,” she said. And to put her money where her mouth is, the Pretty Little Liars star uploaded a pimple cream selfie to her Instagram "because I wanted to show people I’m not perfect — no one is.”
All in all, Benson has placed herself amongst the many celebrities who have become outspoken against body shaming and Photoshop. It'd be all to easy for these stars to stay silent and pretend to be perfect, which makes it all the better when they can open up and prove themselves to be relatable and unretouched human beings.