In an emotional and moving new letter shared to Instagram, the star – who portrays Alison DiLaurentis on the popular Freeform series – contended that “loving yourself is one of the hardest things we as humans can do.”
Pieterse said that women are constantly judged based on their appearance – in and out of the spotlight.
“I’ve always struggled with my weight and in my early teens I realized health was very important,” Pieterse, 20, explained. “My whole mindset and lifestyle changed for the better and I was really happy and confident in my body and the way I looked. I was proud that I had gotten to a place I was comfortable in and had done it in a healthy way. Then there became a point where my body changed dramatically.”
That point, Pieterse revealed last year, was when she learned that she had a hormone imbalance. At the time, she wrote on Instagram, “I want to assure you that I’m healthy and getting everything back on track!”
Now, Pieterse said that people were “angry” she had gained weight. In fact, addressing it only led to more people commenting on her body.
“It disturbed me that so many females were so quick to tear me down on a subject that we all struggle with,” Pieterse wrote.
In the wake of such harsh commentary, Pieterse is instead focusing loving herself at “every stage and chapter of my life.”
“No long term happiness comes from instant gratification,” she advised fans. “Do not lower yourself to people who refuse to grow higher.”
This article originally appeared on People.com