Shay Mitchell’s 6 inspiring quotes about gay characters and body positivity

Shay Mitchell is more than just a pretty face on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.

The actress has proven that she has some deep thoughts on the social importance of her portrayal of Emily Fields on the hit show, as well as inspirational views and opinions about maintaining a healthy self image and loving yourself for who you are.

Mitchell recently sat down with Meredith Vieira and had some really great things to say.

Image: The Meredith Vieira Show

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1. On having an impact through her work

Though Mitchell says she is grateful for being on an entertaining and successful program, she says being able to help fans through an honest depiction of an openly gay character is rewarding as well. “I’ve done signings before and remember this girl coming up to me and saying, ‘Your character has really helped me and I really want to come out to my parents so I can be free.’ I said, ‘Yeah, that’s great, you should,'” Mitchell said to Vieira. “Emily did come out that season, and the next year I came back and I remember the exact same girl coming up to me and was like, ‘Hi, I want to introduce you to my girlfriend.’ From that show she was able to have that conversation with her family. That to me was amazing.”

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2. On teens embracing their unique physical appearance

Mitchell admits she went through normal growing pains and tried to alter her appearance to fit in. She even copped to straightening her hair with a clothing iron because that’s what everyone else was doing. Now, she wishes that she had the foresight to practice self-acceptance. “I regret so much of the things I did,” she told Vieira. “Dyeing my hair, putting fake color contacts in. You really have to embrace what you are born with. There is only one of you. You have to celebrate that.”

Mitchell very eloquently summed up her thoughts on The Meredith Vieira Show, but it’s not the first time she’s presented her thoughts on what she feels are important topics. Here are some other inspirational things she’s had to say in the past.

3. On the importance of equality

Mitchell plays a lesbian on TV, but she doesn’t think she, or her character for that matter, should be treated differently than straight people. “I don’t feel like a gay icon. I don’t feel like an icon at all,” she said, according to Perez Hilton. “Every single interview was always, ‘What’s it like to play a gay character?’ It would be nice if I was never asked that again. Why isn’t anyone asking the other girls what it’s like to kiss a boy?”

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4. On females giving themselves support

“Growing up, I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to fit in,” Mitchell told Seventeen magazine back in August of 2012. “I’d tell myself to just embrace what you are born with because it’s beautiful and you were made like that for a reason. It’s tough being a girl. I think we can need all of the support we can get.”

5. On not trying to be perfect

It may seem easy for Mitchell to say, considering how gorgeous she is, but perfection is something that even she used to strive for but wasn’t able to achieve. “When I was modeling, I had always been told, ‘If you could lose a couple of inches, you’ll work so much more,” she said, according to Seventeen. “I finally realized that no one is perfect and that I like the fact that I look different and don’t have the perfect body. No one does!”

6. On turning negatives into positives

Part of being human is being unique, but sometimes we see our uniqueness as a bad thing. Mitchell thinks that needs to change. “Take that one thing you don’t like about yourself, and more often than not, that’s the one thing that makes you more special,” she said. “Whether it’s that gap in your teeth or that mole you never liked or your skin color.”

Tune in to The Meredith Vieira Show on this Monday to catch the rest of the interview with Mitchell. Visit to find out when it airs in your city.