Lucy Hale Reflects on Eating Disorder Battle and Decade-Long Sobriety Journey

Pretty Little Liars alum Lucy Hale is reflecting on her battle with an eating disorder and opened up about her sobriety journey: "Now I can show up exactly who I am and share my story."

By Kisha Forde Feb 23, 2023 5:50 PMTags
Watch: Lucy Hale Gets Candid About Eating Disorder & Sobriety

Content warning: This story discusses eating disorders.

Lucy Hale is sharing the details of her personal battles for the first time.

The Pretty Little Liars alum—who recently celebrated one year of sobriety—got candid about her struggles over the years, including an eating disorder that began when she was a teen and had to log exercise hours for physical education while being homeschooled.

"That's the only thing I could think of that started this obsession with movement," Hale said during the Feb. 23 episode of the Diary of a CEO with Steven Barlett podcast. "And then I saw my body kind of change and then I started restricting eating, and then it slowly just grew and grew to something that I could not enjoy life. I could not have a conversation. I could not focus on anything."

Hale noted that she was surprised she was able to build her career amid a tough time in her personal life.

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"It's a miracle that I even started working and could focus on acting," she continued. "Because when I mean it was a constant loop, I don't know how I got out of it. The thing with eating disorders is it can always creep back up on you. There are days when I don't feel like my best self, but I love myself enough now to nourish my body."

The 33-year-old went on to credit an ex-boyfriend for supporting her through that time.

"It was like, each year that went by, I started to feel better and better," she shared. "And then I booked Pretty Little Liars and then it got a little dodgy again and scary, but I learned other coping mechanisms that worked for a while until they didn't."

Hale explained the other coping strategies, which included drinking alcohol, developed from feeling like she was "not deserving of self-worth or her career."

"For the coping mechanisms I discovered work for me were incredibly self-destructive and self-sabotaging," she continued. "I have a little over a year of sobriety…I've been working on getting sober since I was 20, I'm 33, it takes time. It took patience with myself."

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The Dude actress added that she "held on to that belief that the real Lucy came out when she was drinking," noting that her relationship with alcohol began at an early age. 

"From my very first experience drinking at age 14 up until a year ago, I've had a problem. I've never had a period of my life where I was a normal moderate drinker...I was willing to go to this crazy, dark place every time."

But after celebrating such an important milestone in her sobriety journey, Hale is viewing her story with a completely different perspective.

"Now I can show up exactly who I am and share my story, and to actually be able to talk about this is so freeing because it's not chaining me down anymore," she continued. "It takes the power away from it. I can be Lucy, which is not always cute at times. Its dark and disgusting and scary and that's what makes us all complex, beautiful human beings, is we all have got this shadow self."

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline at 1-800-931-2237.