Ashley Benson hasn't been afraid to speak her mind when it comes to the harsh realities of being a Hollywood star. In 2016, the actress shared her personal journey with crippling anxiety, and the effect it had on her relationship with her body. Although she's in a better place now when it comes to self-love, Benson admits that the anxiety is still real, especially being in the public eye.
"People think, 'Oh, well they have money and they get all this stuff. Their life is perfect' — it's not really," she tells Refinery29. "You're being watched under a microscope, everything is picked apart, you're constantly being photographed, and you have anxiety because it comes along with all the attention, tabloids, rumors, and magazines."
Benson recalls one moment in particular where her body was picked apart and criticized. "I went to an audition, and they told me I was too fat," she says. "I really got upset, and I was just super down about myself." But she was able to pick herself back up, and it became a turning point for her. It gave her a whole new perspective on the industry. "You can't listen to that kind of stuff because it only makes you go mentally insane," she says. "And that's why I started speaking out... In the entertainment industry, they expect you to be perfect, have the perfect body, have no acne." Benson is working to manage body expectations for herself and other women who aren't in Hollywood by keeping it real. Just last year, she called out the photo editing done on the promotional materials done for Pretty Little Liars.
With the mindset that everything can't be perfect, Benson has made sure to change up her lifestyle to fight her ongoing anxiety, which includes more sleep, massages twice a week, and exercising. However, she finds that the company she keeps is what keeps her the most grounded. "I have a really great group of friends. It's really about who you spend your time with," she says. "A lot of my friends are very normal with normal jobs... I get to learn so much from them and their jobs versus just talking about the industry all the time. It's very refreshing."
Getting away from L.A. is another way Benson separates herself from all the Hollywood hype. Currently, she's bicoastal with homes in both New York and L.A. Frequent visits to the east coast keep her grounded. The only thing she can't deal with when it comes to New York is the current humidity. "I'm sweating all the time. I've managed through it by wearing black or mostly workout clothes because there is no point in getting dressed," she says jokingly. "You step outside and you're dripping." Her solution to this unpleasant reality? Frequent showers with Olay's Foaming Whip Body Wash. (Benson is a spokesperson for the brand.) "It keeps your skin super moisturized, it's good for the summer, and it's light."
The one thing Benson isn't sweating is her imperfections — she's all about loving who she is. "You're always going to go through ups and downs, you're always going to dislike something about yourself but you have to learn how to love yourself first and not look at all the perfect people on Instagram, because most of it is Photoshopping anyways," she says. "It's important for people to know it's okay to have flaws. I think you should embrace it — I do."