Sasha Pieterse of PLL on 70 lb weight gain: ‘It was hurtful how people reacted’

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I’m only familiar with the main actresses on Pretty Little Liars, which aired its final episode three months ago after seven seasons. So I know Ashley Benson, Lucy Hale, Troian Bellisario and Shay Mitchell, primarily from interviews and appearances as I only watched a couple episodes of the first season. Fans were happy to hear earlier this week that a spinoff is coming with Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish. (Although the extent of their involvement has not yet been confirmed.) Pieterse, 21, plays Alison DiLaurentis and she’s been on PLL since the first season. She’s also competing in this season of Dancing With The Stars. In the past couple of years, Pieterse has gained over 70 pounds by her estimate. I am not that familiar with her and hadn’t heard about this, but apparently people were saying nasty things to her about it. She told her DWTS partners, Gleb Savchenko, that the reactions to her weight gain were hurtful but that she was relieved to find out that she had a medical condition that seems to have been behind her rapid weight gain.

The 21-year-old actress told partner Gleb Savchenko that she had gained nearly 70 pounds over the past two years and only recently discovered the medical condition at the root of it all.

“I gained 70-ish pounds over two years,” she said. “It was really, really hurtful the way people reacted. People were saying stuff like, ‘she’s pregnant, you’re fat.’ They were angry, they were mad that I look like this,” she explained.

Pieterse then shared that she was diagnosed with the hormone imbalance disorder, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), very recently and “finally” she knew what was happening to her.

“’I think most importantly, I’m feeling like me again,” she said. “Being on the show, I’ve lost over 15 pounds.”

[From NY Daily News]

It’s got to suck to be an actress under constant pressure to maintain a low weight, to lose weight or even to gain weight for a role. She’s very young at just 21 and that kind of body scrutiny, especially when her body changed so rapidly and she had no idea why, has to wear at a person. Good for her for going on Dancing With The Stars and for opening up about this. I hope she has some relief from PCOS now, from what I understand it can be debilitating. As Kaiser mentioned in her Kanye West weight gain post yesterday, it’s harsh to look at someone and judge them by their body. We never know what’s going on with a person, even if they’re a friend or family member. Whether it’s a medical condition, a side effect of medication, or severe emotional pain and stress, there are so many things which can be behind weight gain and loss. Assuming someone is “lazy” for gaining weight or vain for losing it is a way of discounting their experience and judging them.

Also, she looks completely normal now and she’s gorgeous. Here’s Sasha’s dance with Gleb on Monday night’s episode of DWTS. They did a samba to “Most Girls,” which Sasha called “awesome” with a “deep message.” I love that song too!

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Here she is in 2014.
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Photos credit: WENN

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41 Responses to “Sasha Pieterse of PLL on 70 lb weight gain: ‘It was hurtful how people reacted’”

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  1. Kitten says:

    Man I feel so awful for her. It’s bad enough that she has PCOS (which is no joke) but to have to deal with internet assholes commenting on her weight is just insult to injury.

    She is a REALLY beautiful woman, with or without the extra weight.

  2. KB says:

    She looks great. She must have been super tiny before.

  3. lala says:

    I have PCOS, it can really be awful. For some it can be a really hard struggle to lose weight – I don’t have a bad case of it but I have to be so so careful about food intake and exercise. I gain weight when i eat like a normal person (Ie: consume the number of calories I “should need” to maintain my weight) and it takes me months and months to lose 1 pound so I basically maintain my weight through 5x a week workouts and eating 1250 -1450 calories a day. supervised by a dietitian and all, but I am just maintaining my average but curvy figure, to lose weight I’d have to be practically starving, it’s not worth it for me. I hate that people were so nasty to her, they don’t know what PCOS is like :(

    • Veronica says:

      PCOS blows, man. That is a nasty disease. My friend has it, and she’s always struggled with her weight – to the point of developing an eating disorder in her teens because she couldn’t lose it. It’s only gotten worse since she got diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, so now she is actually forbidden by her doctors to do HIIT cardio because her bones dislocate too easily. (She literally broke her foot two weeks ago just coming at a stair at the wrong angle.) You should never assume you know why a person’s body looks like. You don’t know their life and what’s going on with it.

    • Mandymc says:

      As soon as I saw the headline I assumed PCOS. I rapidly gained 50lb before my diagnosis and nothing I did would stop it. It really sucked because I was desperately trying to get pregnant and people were constantly asking if I was pregnant because of the weight gain in my midsection. I did get on metformin and lost a ton of weight and have two beautiful kiddos now. I am grateful to have figured out the problem and get it treated. A lot of women probably have no idea they have PCOS and struggle with all of the horrible symptoms.

  4. Merritt says:

    I feel bad for her, PCOS is awful. It can cause rapid weight gain, thinning hair on your head, increased body and facial hair growth, fertility problems, and insulin resistance which can lead to Type 2 diabetes.

    • Izzy says:

      THANK YOU. My own father had to hear it for himself from a surgeon that my weight issues were always going to be a challenge because of the PCOS, it’s like he didn’t believe me when I told him this, after having been told by three other doctors. The other side effects are no joke either. I got really lucky that I found an amazing endocrinologist who specializes in this and was able to treat me and stabilize my hormones, but the challenges remain the same. Thank goodness for laser hair removal, it has been a godsend.

  5. Lucy says:

    She is really big now but she still looks beautiful.
    She was really young when the show started , like 12 I think , so of course she’s gonna change .

    • paranormalgirl says:

      She is not “really big” now. God.

      • Lucy says:

        I didn’t mean it was a bad thing , she is beautiful anyway.
        But yeah I apologize, looking again she isn’t very big really, she looks great in that red dress.

      • Veronica says:

        I’m actually unsettled by the fact that she doesn’t look bigger with a 70lb weight gain. Just how thin was she before the weight gain that she looks average sized now??

      • Cee says:

        @Veronica – she was very thin. I actually noticed her weight gain by watching the show and it was VERY obvious something had happened to her. She was also filmed at “pregnant lady” angles and her wardrobe consisted of baggy dresses. I am glad she was diagnosed correctly.

  6. Green Is Good says:

    She looks like an average weight woman. Screw internet trolls.

  7. Veronica says:

    Pfft, you don’t even need to be an actress. I gained fifty pounds as a result of thyroid disease that went undiagnosed for 2-3 years, and while I don’t have comments quite as nasty, I have gotten more than a few sly, “Oh, you used to be so thin!” “Oh, you’ve gained a lot of weight.” “Did you stop exercising?” etc. etc. Still makes my punching hand twitch. Like, no sh*t Sherlock, I’m aware I’ve gone up in size. If you’d like to take my body out for a test drive for a month and see how difficult weight loss is with a metabolic disorder, then you can come and talk to me.

    • Nicole Savannah, GA says:

      THIS. Due to my endometriosis, PCOS, and some good ole PTSD, I gained 70 pounds in 1 1/2 years and people were hateful. ‘Are you pregnant, your nose is wider’ was my favorite asshole question. She is NOT really big now.
      @Veronica, holy crap. EDS is no joke and I’m being tested for VEDS. How long did it take for a diagnosis?

      • Veronica says:

        For her PCOS, she was a teenager, but they didn’t diagnose her EDS until she was 28-29 (during her second pregnancy, at that!), so it had already done some serious damage to her body. She’s currently in physical rehab to help with her ankle joint problems. Sadly, it looks like her son may have inherited it, which I think is just killing her because she knows what’s going to happen when he’s older, but at least they know they have to take precautions with his joints when he’s younger.

    • Cee says:

      I was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism (sp??) and gained 6 pounds in like a month or two while maintaining a somewhat healthy diet and exercise routine. It sucks. I am trying to lose the weight by adjusting my diet but I was also diagnosed with other things and can’t exercise at all. Hormones can really mess you up.-

      • Veronica says:

        The metabolic effect itself is only 10-20 pounds of the weight gain, but it’s the fatigue and the increased sense of hunger that really kills you weight wise, IMO. I was used to pulling 6-7 day exercise regimens, and then all of a sudden I could barely keep myself away during the day. It was only when I went into my MCATs and struck out on sections I should’ve been amply prepared for that I realized something was wrong because my memory loss was so severe. It flew under the radar for so long because I was working night shifts and that can induce fatigue, but it finally got a point where I just couldn’t lose the weight, and I said something to my doctor.

    • tifzlan says:

      Too true. I gained a few pounds over the last two years due to a combination of depression and undiagnosed endometriosis as well as just losing my metabolism because i’m growing older (duh) and people have been really hurtful to me. The worst part is they don’t see it as such but rather that they say these hurtful things “out of concern” – even my mother does this. I try not to let it get to me but i look in the mirror now and hate what i see, eventhough i know i’m not “fat” or “big” or whathaveyou. Actually, i’m very much average sized but the fact that i’m not a size 2 anymore really bothers me… ugh, and then i feel worse for feeling this way….

    • adastraperaspera says:

      So true. I’ve yoyo-ed all my life, due to endometriosis and also medicating anxiety with food. It’s amazing how much more considerately I am treated when I’m at a “normal” weight. People even smile at me more! Everywhere from the grocery store to the work place, when I’m overweight it’s like I’m invisible. I also believe the studies that show the best qualified people often do not get jobs unless they are at a perceived “normal” weight.

  8. Ceire says:

    Glen Savchenko!! ❤️
    I wondered why he wasn’t doing Strictly anymore. He’s obviously moved to the American one.

  9. JA says:

    Glad to hear she figured out what was going on… can’t imagine being so frustrated not knowing what and why your body was changing despite no changes in your habits. I watched PLL and since she played a character who everyone thought died, she made rare appearances. Saw pics of her at media function and noticed she was much larger.

  10. Zondie says:

    Wishing her the best! She seems a lovely person.

  11. jferber says:

    I was under tremendous stress some years ago due to a very sick child. I gained 50 pounds and heard comments like, “I didn’t recognize you,” even from a doctor. I still remember how hurtful that felt, so yeah, STFU if you have nothing nice to say. Believe me, the person you’re targeting knows very well she/he has gained weight. Don’t make it worse by commenting on it in any way. If the person wishes to confide in you, she/he will do so. Otherwise it is neither your place nor your business to say one word about it.

  12. G-g-gina says:

    People are so vile.
    I actually watched pll religiously and was glad to see her put on some weight and look like someone with a regular body type, not model-thin like she was before. She is still more beautiful than most of us anyhow.

  13. Stefanie says:

    Hm. PCOS is often a result of being obese/overweight. It is not the root cause, most overweight PCOS patients are advised to lose weight in order to manage their hormonal imbalance. A too high percentage of body fat means that your hormones are all over the place as your fat mass produces hormones.

    • Tourmaline says:

      Are you an endocrinologist? Because you’ve got your facts wrong here.

    • Yo says:

      Umm nope. I was at a healthy weight when I was diagnosed. Please stop spreading lies about an already misunderstood disease! And pleas do not put the blame on women for getting it. That’s ludicrous.

    • Kersplasha says:

      Total BS. I was diagnosed with PCOS and Fibromyalgia when i was in my teen years at a very healthy weight. 3 of my family members also have PCOS and are all different weights – no 2 people are the same. You need to educate yourself if you are going to state your thoughts as though they are facts.

    • Veronica says:

      Obesity is one of several risk factors. It is not necessarily a causative factor and the disease is considered heterogeneous. Most research suggests a genetic component along with other influences.

  14. Aurelia says:

    Indeed fat does produce estrogen. Estrogen is made via the ovaries, endometrium (lining of the womb) and via fat stores, Etsrogen dominance causes POC.

    • Lee1 says:

      As far as I know, PCOS is related to excess androgen, not estrogen. Androgen can prevent the follicle from releasing the egg which means the follicle doesn’t produce the usual increase in progesterone that occurs at ovulation. This in turn results in estrogen and progesterone being out of balance and thus the ovary continues to produce more follicles. Estrogen dominance doesn’t necessarily mean you are producing too much estrogen and doesn’t have to be related to fat.

    • Veronica says:

      …estrogen is not the problem in PCOS. Androgens are the problem with PCOS, mainly elevated testosterone from overstimulated follicles that release luteinizing hormone and/or overproduction of insulin in a body whose ovaries are sensitive to it. The weight gain is usually a result of the insulin resistance, which impairs your body’s ability to properly metabolize carbohydrates and increases fat synthesis.

  15. Ana Stacia says:

    I’m 28 and was only diagnosed with PCOS this year. I’m 8 and a half stone (so not overweight) and 5’5. For me, PCOS manifests as periods that can be unpredictable (they can be regular but sometimes I have two months with no period), increased hunger and severe fatigue before my period (both feel bottomless as though no amount of sleep or food is enough) and severe acne.

    The acne was the hint that I had PCOS. Apparently acne over the age of 25 and especially around the jaw and cheeks is typically hormonal. I had a blood test and internal examination and PCOS was confirmed.

    It is a slight myth that PCOS causes obesity. PCOS can make you starving hungry which can easily cause you to overeat but also PCOS can be made worse by being overweight/obese.

    It is very difficult to ignore the hormonal hunger and I tend to go up to 9 stone each month thanks to bloat and overeating. What seems to keep my weight in the healthy range is that during/after my period I seem to get a natural appetite dip. It’s as if my body knows that it overate for a purpose and it lessens its needs once my period is here. It’s very bizarre but I credit it with preventing me with becoming unhealthy as PCOS hunger is no joke!

    As a syndrome, every woman has a different set of symptoms making it hard to predict. PCOS effects me worse with skin. I have had acne since age 14 (started periods at 12).

    I do think diet can make some difference but only so much…I am planning to meet with a specialist to see if I can do anything to help with the tiredness/hunger/acne.

    Weirdly when I’m on my period, I feel energetic, not hungry and on a high. It’s the bit before that is just awful!