Pretty Little Liars: What is the truth about Eating Disorders?

In this blog, we will talk about Pretty Little Liars: The truth about eating disorders, and also cover what are eating disorders, what is Pretty little liars, Graham Colbanes take on food handling on the show, and answer frequently asked questions.

Pretty Little Liars: What is the truth about Eating Disorders?

The show Pretty Littel Liars has picked up the storyline of eating disorders and struggles of teenagers with disordered eating patterns in their episodes but also sets up really high and unrealistic standards of beauty through the inaccurate portrayal of teenage boys and girls through such gorgeous and perfect bodied actors on the show.

It attempts to tackle various deep issues but also gets lost in the accuracy of the portrayal of an eating disorder on the show and also impacts young minds of how they should look in order to be considered attractive and interesting by romantic interests.

Pretty Little Liars show

The first thing that strikes you about the show is the look. The camera lingers on the pretty, pink-cheeked girls with straight hair and clear plastic smiles. 

The show is about a group of five friends who, in their small town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, unravel a series of mysteries surrounding the disappearance of their best friend. But the real genius of this show doesn’t just lie in the way it looks; it’s in the way it sounds.

The show is narrated in the first person, in the present tense. The narrator is Hanna, the beautiful, popular girl in the group. She’s the one who disappears first, and it’s her voice that we hear telling the story. It’s her voice that we hear when she’s talking about her eating disorder.

Who is Hanna?

Hanna, the show’s narrator, is a recovering anorexic. She’s also the only one in her group of friends with a diagnosed eating disorder, and she uses this fact to play detective and solve the mysteries surrounding her best friend’s disappearance. 

But, as the show reveals, recovering from an eating disorder is a long and complicated process, and not everyone manages to get there on their first try. In this video, Hanna discusses her eating disorder and the role that media played in developing her eating disorder.

Hanna Marin is your typical teenage girl with big dreams and a big appetite. But when she begins to put on weight and becomes obsessed with food, Hanna starts to wonder if she’s going through an eating disorder. 

What is up with Hanna and her eating disorder?

She tells us right at the beginning of the series that she’s anorexic. She’s not just anorexic, she’s in a full-fledged eating disorder. She’s one of the anorexic girls, and she’s in recovery. At one point, she even says, “I’m in recovery, I’m not cured.”

Hanna is the most obvious example of PLL’s unhealthy depictions of eating, and her character is based on the real-life experience of its creator, actress/writer/producer Marlene King. 

Marlene was diagnosed with bulimia as a teenager, and she has since become an outspoken advocate for eating disorder awareness and recovery. Marlene has said that the character of Hefty Hanna, the binge eater and purger portrayed as the villainous force in PLL, is based on her own experience as a teenager. 

In one episode, Hefty Hanna even admits to having once been obsessed with calorie counting and losing weight.

Hanna aka Marlene’s eating disorder

Marlene has spoken about her past battles with an eating disorder, but in a piece published on Tuesday in Lenny Letter, she opened up about how bad her struggles once were. “I was anorexic,” she writes. “I was bulimic. I was so close to killing myself.”

The struggle of Troian Bellisario

It’s no surprise, then, that the show has featured several storylines about eating disorders. One of the show’s stars, Troian Bellisario, has discussed her battles with an eating disorder in the past. 

In a piece published on Tuesday in Lenny Letter, Bellisario opened up about how bad her eating disorder once was. She said that she spent three weeks in the hospital after she attempted to starve herself to death.

Marlene has spoken publicly about her own experiences with eating disorders in the past, but in a piece published on Tuesday in Lenny Letter, the actress/writer/producer took a different approach. 

In a series of personal essays, Marlene described the very real demons that she has struggled with throughout her life, including her eating disorder. Her candour is a powerful reminder that eating disorders don’t discriminate and that they affect everyone—regardless of gender, age, or background.

The most obvious example of Troian Bellisario’s unhealthy eating habits is her character, Spencer Hastings. Spencer is obsessed with food — at one point, she even becomes a nutritionist — and she’s obsessed with her appearance. 

She’s constantly dieting and trying new workout regimes. But as the show reveals, being obsessed with your weight and appearance isn’t healthy, and it’s not a phase.

Bellisario writes about her struggles

“There is a part of my brain that defies logic,” she writes in the latest edition of Lenny Letter. “Once, it completely convinced me I should live off 300 calories a day, and at some point, it told me even that was too much. That part of my brain is my disease, and there was a time when it had absolute authority over me.”

“It almost killed me, and you can see that even though I have lived in recovery for ten years now, it still finds loads of fun, insidious ways to thwart me to this day,” she wrote. “It was a difficult journey finding my way back to health. Through hard introspection, intense medical and mental care, a supportive family, friends, and a patient and loving partner, I survived, which is rare.”

The most obvious example of PLL’s unhealthy notion of food can be found in the persona of “Hefty Hannah”, the nickname given to protagonist Hannah Marin when she was compulsively overeating. Instead of treating Hannah’s problem as a real illness, the show ridicules her for being weak and socially inept. 

Does Hanna recover from her eating disorder?

No, Hannah never truly recovers – she gains confidence by losing weight as she begins to clean up, dress stylishly, and become popular through the brute strength of the queen bee. The ponderous Hannah never managed to earn the nickname “Pretty Little Liar” because in this world she has to be thin to be considered beautiful. 

It is also significant that Hannah’s eating disorder manifested itself in the form of binges and purges, and not anorexia: her refusal to eat (for example, the episode in which she chooses toast from a salad) is associated with her beauty. 

Hannah is constantly portrayed as eating when no one else is, and is even shamed by her friends who ask her if she would really eat it.   

In other characters, there is also a parallel between burden and social ostracism. Although not explicitly written into the show, the character “Paige” is noticeably thinner (with longer hair to match the rest of the girls) in season five, in which she and Emily were in a fulfilling relationship, compared to when she first appeared on the show. 

When she was a vindictive and twisted social outcast. In the last episodes, “Big Rhonda”, frankly ashamed of her weight, appears as a mentally ill person. In the series, heaviness deprives not only beauty but also sanity and moral firmness.    

Graham Colbanes and his take on Pretty Little Liars

The food problems in Pretty Little Liars were intriguingly documented by blogger Graham Colbanes in his “Food Horror” video, which combines scenes from the show’s first three seasons depicting shameful food handling. 

The general consensus is that with such a large audience, especially young women, the show should pay attention to the portrayal of food, beauty, and social acceptance. He is guilty not only of perpetuating a narrow definition of beauty, but also of outright disgrace to food and the body. 

PLL needs to consider its position as an influential and progressive show and start including more types of women in its definition of “beautiful”. 

While it’s a shame that the lead role in Pretty Little Liars did such damage to the mental health of Hales and the rest of the cast, they used their experience to normalize women’s bodies in all shapes and forms and make sure their fans didn’t have them. 

Tolerate What they did. For both Bellisario and Hale, self-mutilation began before they started filming Pretty Little Liars—to be clear, no one blames the show for causing health problems.   

Pretty Little Liars’ Troian Bellisario reveals she struggled with eating disorders and self-harm in her youth, while fellow actors Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell recently discussed their relationship with diet Dissonance struggle. 

Ironically, Ashley Benson, who plays Hannah, is the show’s only character battling an eating disorder, and the only one who doesn’t appear. 

The fact that she vomited and did these terrible and horrible things to herself and then automatically became “thin and beautiful” is very upsetting. It is unhealthy for girls like you and me to have a role model who has a disorder that is not as celebrated as it should be. The twisted lesson shows Hannah and us that if you’re pretty, you can get what you want.  

Season 1 Hannah’s issues

Hannah has always been a brave person, but at the beginning of PLL she was cured of her eating disorder and E was bringing all those feelings back to the surface. In the season one episode “Know Your Frenemies”, A made cupcakes to eat Hannah and was encouraged to go back to her past bulimia.  

In one scene, Hannah tried to run away and throw away the food before Eli saw her eating. Yes, in the show, Hanna tells Aria that Ali taught her how to vomit and she did. After Hanna stopped vomiting, we didn’t see her struggle to lose weight. 

It’s easy for a character not to eat – you just don’t tell him what he’s eating, you make him skinny. Anorexia is not a catch-all story about an eating disorder, despite the popularity of the show to the bone and Skin, or the promotion of restrictive eating in pop culture.  

Apart from separate episodes of “Gossip Girl” and “Pretty Little Liars” in which Blair Waldorf and Hannah Marin are bulimic, respectively, mainstream teen-targeting media does not include bulimia in the spotlight.


We explore the show Pretty Little Liar and how it included eating disorders in the storyline and various cast members were also struggling with it in their real life. We also shared Graham Colbanes’ take on the show.  

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Pretty Little Liars: What is the truth about Eating Disorders?

What illness does Emily have in PLL?

Emily has something cancer-y. Here’s what we do know: Emily has been receiving “treatments,” both in California and in Rosewood.

What mental disorder does Mona have in Pretty Little Liars?

Mona and Spencer get into an altercation along a precipice, and Mona is thrown off. She does survive, and after being diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, she is sent to the Radley Sanitarium.

Who has an eating disorder in Pretty Little liars?

Pretty Little Liars’ Lucy Hale reveals she suffered from ‘severe anorexia’ and thinks she looks ‘so sick’ in old photos.

Does Spencer Hastings have a mental illness?

Spencer had a mental and emotional breakdown after losing her lover Toby to the A-Team, and was found alone in the woods with no ID and sent to Radley Sanitarium.

Did Hanna from Pretty Little Liars have an eating disorder?

Yes, Hanna had an eating disorder which was very well depicted in the show’s journey.

Why did Pretty Little Liars end?

Ratings are essential in the television market, and “Pretty Little Liars” began to lose viewers over time. According to TV Series Finale, the show’s third season drew in a large number of viewers, mostly from the 18- to 49-year-old group.


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