Sophie Turner Revealed How Her Health Suffered When Told To Lose Weight On Game Of Thrones

As if you didn't already have enough reasons to love Sansa Stark, Sophie Turner is ready to give you a few more. The character she played on TV's beloved "Game of Thrones" certainly went through her fair share of relatable experiences (betrothed to a jerk, held hostage by his family, becoming a queen, etc.), but Turner's life has had plot twists and power plays all of its own. And the actress no doubt inspired many more fans — whether they watched GoT or not — when she opened up about those experiences to Marie Claire in 2019. "I have experienced mental illness firsthand," she told the magazine. "And I've seen what it can do to the people around [the sufferers] as well."

Referring to the darker periods of Turner's life, which she just so happened to be navigating while she simultaneously starred in one of those most popular TV programs of a generation, the actress explained that pressure to look a certain way was not only an inescapable cultural mandate but a professional expectation. And when film and television studio executives join a chorus of social media strangers in telling you that you should lose weight, the results are as harrowing as you might expect. "For a long time, I was quite sick with an eating disorder," Turner told ELLE UK last month. And if you thought Sansa Stark played the hand she was dealt with strength and dignity, wait until you hear about Turner.

A social media break

"Young in age, old in soul" is how ELLE UK describes Sophie Turner in an interview for their June 2022 issue. And indeed, despite what her career and life milestones might indicate, Turner is only 26 years old. Her start on "Game of Thrones" came at the tender, often sensitive age of 15. "At 16, I felt like I was a fully-fledged adult," Turner tells the magazine. But even fully-fledged adults aren't impervious. Per the BBC some studies suggest that increased stress and anxiety levels, along with feelings of loneliness and depression, may be associated with social media overuse. In fact, part of Turner's current relationship with social media (she's taken Instagram off her phone, and tries to "live real life") came from the negative body issues she developed during her GoT days; days when the mean comments about her weight or skin overshadowed positive ones about her acting and sent her into a shame spiral.

"I have noticed that social media makes me incredibly anxious, and it's something I try to distance myself from," Turner says. She credits therapy, distancing herself from Instagram, and supportive family and friends in the U.K. for her mental health improvements. Also, Turner makes it clear that regular check-ins are vital: "I still have days when I feel depressed or anxious," she says. But, "It's manageable now. I have the tools."

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).