In the introduction to your book, you write, “Beauty is not just something you were born with, it is something you grow into.” This is such a beautiful quote.
I think this about all of the women around me. As they’ve gotten older, they’ve become more self-possessed. There is a sense of “I’ve been there. I’ve done it. I’ve learned. I’ve failed. I’ve succeeded. And I’m still pushing through, and I am not afraid to say it.” They have a deeper understanding of themselves, so their beauty really comes from within. You can see it in their gestures, in the way they hold their bodies, even the way they dress. They wear things that make them feel comfortable; that represents who they are. They are not trying to dress like everybody else.
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In what other ways do you think women improve with age?
They don’t apologize all the time. They hold themselves with respect, and they’re more open to being vulnerable. There is something really beautiful about being strong enough in who you are to allow yourself that freedom. I’m just learning it myself.
Was there a time in your life, maybe when you were younger, when you felt less sure of yourself?
Like most everybody else, I had a poor body image when I was younger. Everyone made fun of me because I was so skinny. They used to call me Ethiopia and Skeletor. And all of that stuck with me well into my teenage years. I was embarrassed. You know those certain parts of your body you don’t want to expose? Just so insecure.
What did you learn from that experience? How did it shape who you are today?
When I was a child, it was important for me to show that I was strong and capable. I thought people would associate my scrawniness with frailty. I grew up during the time when kids roamed alone on the streets, so I always wanted to make sure that people knew that I was not a pushover. I would be like, “I can pick you up”—that was my move. And then I would pick the biggest boy up off the ground. It’s how I defended myself.
Who did you turn to for support back then?
I would talk to my friends, but instead of saying, “I’m hurt by this, and it makes me feel bad,” it was more like, “I wish I had a butt like yours.” That is what it turned into. I think it goes back to vulnerability: You don’t know how to be vulnerable when you are a kid.
Was there a pivotal moment in your life that helped you learn how to be more open?
My husband [musician Benji Madden] has helped me a lot. He is the opposite: He shows all of his emotions and is very open. He has helped me to see things in my life that I thought I was OK with—I wasn’t able to see my pain. I was just pushing through. That is one of the things about marriage: It is like holding a mirror up in front of you. You learn things about yourself that you can’t learn on your own.
If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?
It will get better. Just keep your eyes open, your heart open. Listen, learn, and never stop growing.
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