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The Pretty Little Liars Cast Strips Down for GQ (and Addresses Those Photoshop Accusations)

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Ellen Von Unwerth/GQ

It’s a rite of passage for any teen-soap starlets: The sexy, fashion-y cast photo for a major magazine. The Hills girls did it, the Glee girls did it, and now the Pretty Little Liars stars (above, from left: Troian Bellisario, 28, Shay Mitchell, 27, Ashley Benson and Lucy Hale, both 24) have stripped down to some saucy swimwear for a page in June’s GQ. Styled in retro-glam dos and high-waisted bikinis, the girls play-fight with a male model, goof around with water guns and talk about their post-PLL lives (Benson wants to be in a Woody Allen movie, while Mitchell thinks she’d make a great female Bond).

The cast posted some early looks at the photoshoot on their Instagrams, which immediately got people talking about whether the use of Photoshop was excessive. Since Benson has been vocal about her dislike of Photoshop in the past and Bellisario has talked about her eating disorder, fans seemed surprised that they’d go for such a stylized spread. Bellisario addressed the controversy head-on on her Instagram, posting on-set photos to show how the girls actually looked that day, and writing the below (which we posted unedited, because it’s great):

So by now you have seen many a shot from #GQ and many people have said that we were photoshopped… OF COURSE WE WERE! that's a very specific type of photo shoot. And looking very blown out and perfected was obviously what they were looking for. Great. Cool. As long as we acknowledge how it was achieved so we know it's not real. Here's some behind the scenes of my body the way it is and was on the day. I'm not mad at how these pictures turned out, the girls and I had an absolute blast. More fun than we've had on a photoshoot in a while, and I think you can see that in our eyes and smiles. But it's the same everywhere. It's the same way on the posters of our show and even in women's magazines. This industry seems to invest more in perfection than in flaw. But flaw and individuality, to me, are what make a human being interesting, they make our stories worth telling. (Unfortunately the flaws don't usually sell products or magazines) I'm proud of my body and the way it looks because @themarkwildman kicks my butt in aerial. But my hips and thighs are a part of me (even though they magically weren't in some shots!) I get those things from my momma. And I'm happy To shake what my momma gave me.

A photo posted by Troian Bellisario (@sleepinthegardn) on

“So by now you have seen many a shot from #GQ and many people have said that we were photoshopped… OF COURSE WE WERE! that’s a very specific type of photo shoot. And looking very blown out and perfected was obviously what they were looking for. Great. Cool. As long as we acknowledge how it was achieved so we know it’s not real. Here’s some behind the scenes of my body the way it is and was on the day. I’m not mad at how these pictures turned out, the girls and I had an absolute blast. More fun than we’ve had on a photoshoot in a while, and I think you can see that in our eyes and smiles. But it’s the same everywhere. It’s the same way on the posters of our show and even in women’s magazines. This industry seems to invest more in perfection than in flaw. But flaw and individuality, to me, are what make a human being interesting, they make our stories worth telling. (Unfortunately the flaws don’t usually sell products or magazines.) I’m proud of my body and the way it looks because @themarkwildman kicks my butt in aerial. But my hips and thighs are a part of me (even though they magically weren’t in some shots!). I get those things from my momma. And I’m happy to shake what my momma gave me.”

She followed up by posting a snap of the top shot and writing, “I mean. Photoshopped or not. I work with three of the most gorgeous women on the planet. (Goddesses without hair and make up as well).” And judging by the photos her castmates posted on their own Instagrams (both behind-the-scenes and in the mag), everyone was happy with the way the shoot turned out.

For more from the PLL girls, check out GQ.com or pick up the new issue, and tell us: What do you think of the photoshoot? Do you agree with Bellisario’s take on it? Tell us in the comments!

–Alex Apatoff

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