The backlash began on Tuesday, when the 26-year-old posted an Instagram photo of herself modeling a black T-shirt from boyfriend Dominic Sherwood’s clothing line, part of whose proceeds are donated to the U.K.’s Anti-Bullying Alliance.
“Sherwood (and nothing else) looks good on me,” Hyland captioned the selfie, which depicted her wearing only the shirt.
Instantly, fans reacted, and among the 182,000 comments, many called the actress “absolutely sickly,” too thin, and speculated that Hyland suffered from an eating disorder.
On Wednesday, Hyland responded by tweeting screenshots of a two-part message written in her Notes app about the “heavily” discussed topic.
“I normally don’t comment on things like this because it draws attention to those trying to spread negativity,” Hyland wrote, in part, “but I’m here to explain a few things and spread love.”
She wrote, “Here goes…. I have been told that I can’t work out. Which, for me, is very upsetting…I love to be outdoors. I love to be STRONG….strength is everything…I am not a fan of ‘being skinny.’ Which many of you have told me I am too much of. ‘Eat a burger,’ ‘Your head is bigger than your body and that’s disgusting.'”
“But considering that I’ve been on bed rest for the past few months,” she said, “I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass. My circumstances have put me in a place where I’m not in control of what my body looks like…and no, that’s not Photoshop. Those are my legs. Those are my arms. I write this because I’ve been accused of promoting anorexia, ironically enough, in an anti-bullying post. And I want young girls to know that that’s NOT my intention. So I’m here to say that no one should aim to be the weight that I am right now.”
Hyland reassured her fans that there’s no cause for concern — that she’s working on staying healthy, although she admits that it’s “never fun to look in the mirror and see your hard work at the gym fade away or have your legs be the size of one’s arms.”
She also alluded to her condition by suggesting she takes prednisone, an immunosuppressant drug. “I don’t mind when you say I look pregnant. Or fat. Because I know that my face is swollen from medication that is saving my life. For those on prednisone, I know what you’re going through…my self-confidence is not rendered from your comments.”
In 2012, the actress revealed she had a disease called kidney dysplasia, a condition that causes the kidneys to grow abnormally in the womb. That same year, she underwent a kidney transplant for which her father was a kidney donor.
Hyland ended her note by saying, in part, “I am a 26-year-old woman who goes through more than you could even imagine on a daily basis…don’t let other’s comments alter any part of you. Love and positivity is what we need most. Especially at a time like this.”
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