Sasha Pieterse Opens Up on DWTS About Being Body-Shamed for Her Illness

“Pretty Little Liars” actress Sasha Pieterse is using her time on “Dancing With the Stars” to open up about the body image challenges she’s faced due to her illness and advocate for others with the same condition.

On Tuesday’s episode, Pieterse revealed in a pre-taped segment before her performance that she had unexpectedly gained weight over two years. She eventually learned her weight fluctuation was due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and said it was “really, really hurtful” the way people reacted to her body.

“They were saying stuff like, ‘She’s pregnant.’ ‘You’re fat.’ They were angry, they were mad that I look like this,” Pieterse said, getting teary. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through.”

She said getting her diagnosis, working on her health and the dance training she’s received on the show have helped her “feel like me again.”

After the show (Pieterse and her partner, Gleb Savchenko, danced the samba to Hailee Steinfeld’s “Most Girls”), she told “Entertainment Tonight” she hoped talking about the hard time she went through with PCOS would help inform others who have it.

“What I want [is] for people to have awareness because so many women have it and they don’t know and if you don’t catch it in time, it leads to [things like] ovarian cancer and breast cancer and all kinds of things that women deal with all the time,” Pieterse said. “[A lot of it] could’ve been avoided, so if I can share that, that’s really important to me.”

Pieterse is one of several “Dancing With the Stars” contestants who has a connection to illness or disability. Debbie Gibson, Victoria Arlen, Barbara Corcoran and Lindsay Sterling all deal with health challenges.

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