In the 16 whirlwind months since Lili Reinhart got her big break as Betty on the hit CW show Riverdale, the actress has cemented her place as a body positivity role model.
The 21-year-old is known for speaking openly about everything from photoshopping — she called out Cosmopolian‘s Philippines edition for slimming down photos of her and costar Camila Mendes in March — to hurtful pregnancy rumors after “unflattering” photos of herself popped up in May.
Reinhart believes that there’s a hypocrisy to body positivity that starts on social media.
“The most-followed people on Instagram are skinny people who have abs, long legs, silky hair and filled-in eyebrows,” she tells HarpersBazaar.com for their digital cover. “But then people really love when I say, ‘It’s OK to not have a 24-inch waist and it’s OK to have pimples.’ But those same people are praising the people with images of flawless everything. Which side are you on?”
Reinhart added that this constantly happens with people who get plastic surgery, and then don’t admit to it.
“We’re in a generation where people say, ‘Be who you are. Embrace your differences.’ And then they also praise people who have plastic faces,” she said. “It’s like, don’t deny those rumors.”
“Here’s the thing. If getting plastic surgery is going to make you enjoy your life better, do it … I understand if there are people out there who aren’t happy when they look at the mirror, and they can’t find that love for themselves. I know people who have gotten plastic surgery and it’s changed their lives. That’s really wonderful. But I think you should be able own up to it.”
Reinhart has talked about her own battles with body image — particularly when she felt forced to shut down the pregnancy rumors — and said that her self-esteem issues started at age 16, when her metabolism started to slow down.
“It’s like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to be a little skinny teenager forever,’ ” she said.
And the Ohio-native wanted to emphasize that the version of herself that fans often see — the polished Betty on the show, or the high-fashion Reinhart at the Met Gala — is not how she usually looks.
“I’m not that flawless image person. I could never live up to that. I’m not going to make people think I’m this airbrushed version of myself. There are lots of versions of me,” she said. “My hair looks like shit most of the time. It looks great when I’m on a carpet, sure, but that’s not the only side I want people to see of myself.”
One side she wants to show more of is her mental state. Reinhart was diagnosed with depression at age 14, and tweeted that landing Riverdale ended “the worse depression I had ever experienced.” Now she makes a point to talk openly about her mental health.
“Let’s talk about [depression] like it actually is,” she said to HarpersBazaar.com. “It’s a very real thing, a day-to-day thing, not just you sitting in a dark room alone. It’s something that comes in all shapes and colors and all different scenarios, all different types of people.”
“When I do conventions, and I can meet fans one on one, they tell me, ‘You speaking about mental health has really helped me a lot.’ It’s very surreal.”