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Tammin Sursok’s Letter to Her 13-Year-Old Self Will Break Your Heart

Tammin Sursok and her family

Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Safe Kids Worldwide

It’s easy to look at Tammin Sursok and think she’s got it made. Beauty? Check. Talent? Check. Enviable travel adventures? So many! Not only is the Pretty Little Liars star, who plays Jenna Marshall on the hit Freeform series, glamorous and sweet, but aside from her burgeoning career in fashion and television, she also has a wonderful husband and daughter who love her unconditionally.

That being said, the road to happiness and success hasn’t been an easy one, and in an effort to help people dealing with body image issues, especially in the age of filters and Photoshop, Tammin placed herself in an ultra vulnerable position: by opening up about her personal struggle with weight loss and bullying in a letter addressed to her 13-year-old self.

Labeling her teenage years as “a place of painful memories,” the 33-year-old actress discusses her long, arduous journey toward self-acceptance and recognizing her worth. She reflects on all the humiliation she endured at the hands of her classmates — including a crush who referred to her as ‘fat’ — who mocked her, and made her feel helpless and alone during such a formative time in her life.

“I remember the lack of self love and the lack of compassion I had for myself,” she captioned the collage below. “I think it’s important to speak about this around the holidays- especially when all we are seeing is everyone’s “highlight” reel, the filters, the perfect families, the perfect bodies – and I know there are many people out there who are struggling, who don’t feel like they are enough, who have no hope.”

Eventually, Tammin woke up one day ready to implement some real change in her confidence level; she cast her insecurities aside and mustered up the necessary courage to start building a healthy relationship with herself. “A fire will spark in you…You will hear a voice, buried in other people’s opinions and words bathed in hate, that will rise like a Phoenix,” she wrote, revealing the breathtaking inspiration behind her young daughter’s name.

As for anyone grappling with low self-esteem and unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by the media? Tammin offers these words of encouragement: “I PROMISE you, you can change your life. You can get out of a painful situation. It takes one positive step in the right direction. Just one step.” She emphasizes that “this is not about weight,” but rather about embracing your inner strength and initiating “positive change from whatever negative situation you find yourself in.”

“This is coming from me, this was my story, a little girl close to 200 pounds, who woke up one day and decided enough was enough,” she concludes. I love you all and I truly believe in every one of you. #thisisbeautiful.”

Does anyone have chills right about now? Many thanks to Tammin for sharing such an intimate story with us – and for reinforcing the importance of trusting in our abilities. Talk about a powerful message!

In what ways do you practice self-love? Tell us in a comment below!

*Mark your calendars, darlings: The last season of Pretty Little Liars premieres on Freeform on Tuesday, April 21, 2017. Meanwhile you can catch your favorite stars, including Tammin, at the “A-Con” – a two-day PLL event taking place in Brussels on Dec. 17 and 18. (Tyler Blackburn, Vanessa Ray, Brant Daugherty and Keegan Allen will also be in attendance.) After the convention, Tammin will head on over to London, France and Amsterdam to meet with more fans.*

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