Troian Bellisario is seeing red over "Pretty Little Liars" co-star Ashley Benson's admission that she recently lost out on a role for being "too fat" -- even though she's a size 2.
"It's really disheartening … and really awful," the 30-year-old actress told Wonderwall.com while promoting her upcoming film "Martyrs," in which she portrays a young woman on a mission of vengeance against the people who kidnapped and tortured her as a child.
"I just don't even understand how that is applicable to a role unless somebody is like, 'In order for this role to work, your character has to squeeze through these two crazy bars and you're suffering from a debilitating illness and you haven't eaten in four months -- that's why you need to be super-skinny," she said. "Otherwise, I don't understand why anybody would tell Ashley Benson she doesn't fit the quota for a role."
Troian, who admitted in 2014 that she suffered from an eating disorder as a teen, actually slimmed down for exactly that reason: to portray a seriously ill young woman in a film. The experience turned out to be more of an eye opener than she ever could have anticipated.
"I actually had to lose a bunch of weight for a role recently because I was supposed to look sick -- it was really tough for me with my past," she told us. "But the craziest part to me was that after I lost the weight, I watched the film and saw an actress my age who was about as skinny as I was -- and that was just how skinny she was [normally]. I had this moment where I was like, okay, so if that on film looks normal or is accepted as normal, then what are we projecting? I'm doing this to look sick. What are we doing? And how do we undo it? Right now! As soon as possible."
"I just don't understand the equation where beauty equals skinny," she concluded. "It's disgusting."
In spite of her strong opinions about the way her co-star was treated, Troian isn't worried about Ashley in the long run.
"I know Ashley very well," she said. "She has confidence to be herself and not feel like she has to change for somebody else, and that's what's gonna change the paradigm. If she accepted it and said, 'Oh, you're right. I should lose weight for this role,' then the monster just keeps going. Then more people are reduced to a number on a scale or the color of their eyes or their hair."
Fortunately, Ashley isn't allowing one person's opinion to affect her body image.
"I cried for 30 minutes, but then you have to let it roll off your shoulders or it could cause a serious eating disorder," Ashley told Ocean Drive after her original admission that she'd just been "told I was too fat for a part."
"A lot of people in this industry hear they need to lose weight more times than they should," she continued. "It does make you stronger, though. Because if you let that affect you, you can't be in this industry -- you'd go crazy."
We're going crazy just thinking about it, but we're glad to see our favorite Liars are staying strong -- and staying true to themselves!
You can catch Troian's film "Martyrs" in theaters and on Digital HD on Jan. 22 and on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 2.
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