In Tuesday night’s episode, the 21-year-old actress revealed she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, a hormonal disorder.
Due to her condition, Pieterse said that she gained roughly 70 pounds over two years and had to deal with some terrible comments about her appearance.
“It was really, really hurtful the way people reacted,” Pieterse said. “People were staying stuff like, ‘She’s pregnant.’ ‘You’re fat.’ They were angry or mad that I looked like this. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through.”
Thanks to regular dance rehearsals for the show, however, Pieterse has already noticed herself feeling happier and healthier after only a few weeks.
“I’m feeling like me again,” the actress said, per People. “Being on the show, I’ve lost over 15 pounds. It’s not an easy road, but being able to focus on getting myself healthy again, and the fact that I’m seeing results, getting better is all I can ask for.”
“I feel like I’ve always been a happy person, and I’ve been so blessed with and amazing family and friends,” she told co-host Erin Andrews, adding that feeling like herself again “means the world” to her.
Pieterse’s newfound confidence was on full display during her samba performance with partner Gleb Savchenko, and the judges definitely noticed. The couple was awarded an impressive 22 out of 30 for the routine, which you can watch below.