Sasha Pieterse is feeling better than ever after losing 15 lbs. competing on Dancing with the Stars and falling in love.
But on Monday night, the Pretty Little Liars actress remembered a darker time, when she gained nearly 70 lbs. due to a hormone condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
The celebrities paid tribute to their most memorable years with their routines, and Pieterse chose 2016: the year PLL ended and she got engaged to Hudson Sheaffer, who helped her through her health battle.
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Pieterse, 21, went public with her issues in 2015 after viewers questioned her character Alison DiLaurentis’ fuller figure.
“As a lot of you have noticed my body has gone through some changes, and I want to clear the air and give you an explanation. I have been facing a bad hormone imbalance that has thrown my body completely out of whack,” the 19-year-old wrote on Instagram. “I want to assure you that I’m healthy and getting everything back on track! A big thanks to all of you who have been in my corner!”
But the actress refused to take any more body-shaming from cruel viewers.
“We live in such a [judgmental] society that puts every kind of flaw, including weight gain, in the same category,” she wrote. “And for those of you who are struggling with any health problem, hormone imbalance, and weight gain of any sort I urge and encourage you to please deal with it in a healthy [manner]. YOU and YOUR health are what matters, not anyone else’s opinions and assumptions of you.”
- PEOPLE’s special issue, 25 Seasons of Dancing with the Stars, is out Sept. 15
Now, Pieterse is thankful for the platform DWTS gives her to raise awareness of the condition.
“The response has been amazing,” she said last week at PEOPLE’s Ones to Watch Party at NeueHouse in Los Angeles.“It’s all positive and supportive. I’ve actually come into contact with so many friends who have PCOS that I never even knew. This is something that’s really important to me and glad that it’s getting shared.”
After performing her emotional foxtrot, Pieterse said she felt “relieved.”
“It was really nerve-racking to kind of put ourselves out here and be vulnerable like that in a totally different way, so I’m so excited that it’s over only because it takes a lot out of you,” added Pieterse, who was awarded a 24/30 by judges.
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.