Real-talk alert. Freeform star Ashley Benson revealed to Health in her no-holds-barred March 2016 cover story that she has been called "fat" repeatedly in Hollywood, and coped with anxiety due to immense pressure.
"It’s come up a few times in the last few years, like, 'You’re too fat for this,'" the 26-year-old beauty shared with the mag. "And I’m just sitting here like, ‘Wait, what? Do you want a skeleton?’ But I feel good. I don’t want to lose 20 pounds, because I don’t need to."
"I get told all the time to lose weight," the Pretty Little Liars star continued. "I got that a month ago. It's just weird. With my stuff recently, it's been, 'You have to be skin and bones or you're not getting it.' There was a point where it was getting to where a size 2 was great. I'm a size 2, but I think that a size 4 is healthy. I think that all of these sizes are healthy."
In late 2015, Benson posted a quote via Instagram that read: "Everything you are going thru is preparing you for what you asked for." In her interview, the star explained what inspired the message.
"That was when I got told that I was too fat," the actress recalled. "I was just like, 'Why am I even in this industry?' It's just so depressing sometimes. But no matter what challenge you're going through, if you're having the worst day or the worst week or the worst year, everything that's happening to you right now is happening for a reason that you will see in the future."
Though the struggle lingers, the Spring Breakers star has been trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle, citing Gwyneth Paltrow as one of her idols. "I have one of her cookbooks, and I think she looks beautiful," she shared. "I'm not the best cook, but I made fish, this stew and some soups and salads. When I look at all the pictures in her cookbook, I'm like, 'Wow, I already feel better,' you know?"
Another star she looks up to is Jenna Dewan-Tatum. "She is, like, the cutest thing. Her body right now is so incredible — and she's had a kid!" Benson gushed. "I would obviously say, like, every supermodel, like Candice Swanepoel and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley — but that is just so not my body."
To maintain her physique, the star has an active morning ritual. "I play with my two dogs. I get coffee. If I don't have coffee, I don't function. And I usually do Pilates three days a week for an hour, and I try to box or do SoulCycle two or three times a week. There are times I just want to do nothing! But then I don't feel good about myself," she said, adding that squats are magic. "Not for my butt but for my legs. We usually do circuit training, so I'll do 25 squats, then I'll run back and forth, and then I'll do lunges to the other side of the gym both ways, run, then squats. I can't move for days!"
Benson was also open in her cover story about managing stress and coping with her intense anxiety. "I try to take an hour nap. If I don't get sleep, I found that I get really bad anxiety. I started getting panic attacks for two years straight. I think it was 2011 to 2013. I could barely go to work. It would get so bad that I would have to leave set. Or I'd be driving, and I would have a panic attack," she dished. "I had a crazy incident on set: I had heart palpitations, and I thought I was having a heart attack, so I fainted on set and turned blue. The paramedics were there. Once that happened, I was like, 'That's going to happen to me every single day,' and it was just that constant fear. So anytime I felt some sort of weird thing, I'd be like, 'Here it goes …'"
The actress is still working out her anxiety issues, but she shared some of her coping tricks. "That's part of why I work out, too, because it has canceled out the anxiety. I was on Xanax for a long time. It helped, but I decided I was going to be able to self-medicate through meditation, working out, sleeping, eating healthy and drinking more water," she revealed. "I have this meditation app on my phone. I use it at least three times a week. There will be times where I will get [anxiety], but it's not a full-blown panic attack. It's just, like, for a couple hours I feel as if I'm going to die. I had a friend who was like that for, like, seven years. She wouldn't leave her house, and then she finally dealt with it. Anxiety is horrible."
Benson's March 2016 issue of Health hits newsstands on February 12.
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