Tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams seem to live a superstar lifestyle, but they say they were never immune to typical teenage self-esteem issues.
"Growing up we had a lot of insecurities," Serena says. "Even now we still have so many insecurities. It's not like we're perfect. ... [We want] to let [teens] know that celebrities and stars, not only just us, but everyone has these issues as well."
Venus says that to this day, she still works on coming out of her shell more, and looks to her sister, Serena, as a role model for self-confidence.
"I had a hard time making friends, because I was really shy, and I still am shy," Venus says. "That was one of the ways I always wanted to be like Serena. But you do have things that you struggle with. You can't be perfect in everything. I found out, sure, maybe I didn't have as many friends, but it was something that I could work on."
As a teen, Jada Pinkett Smith says she struggled with feeling different and had a hard time with accepting her body.
"I'm so petite and being a black woman, you know, black men like a little [bigger body]!" Jada says. "So, you know, it just got to a point where I just had to learn how to love me. And as long as you love yourself, people have no choice but to accept what you are. That's what it comes down to."
Jada says that out of all her accolades and accomplishments, she prides herself most on being a mother. But like most mothers, she realizes it's becoming harder and harder to protect our daughters in today's society.
"I do treasure [motherhood] the most," Jada says. "It's the most challenging job I have. It's very difficult. Especially now raising children because they're bombarded with so much information. ... It's about starting with planting those little seeds of self-esteem. We need to start giving our young girls affirming messages. That's what my grandmother did for me. She would always tell me, 'Jada, you can do whatever.'"
Two-time Grammy® winner Pink made headlines recently for her hit song "Stupid Girls." She says there's an epidemic of mindlessness among teenagers today and America's obsession with celebrity is to blame. In her music video, she attacks modern-day role models like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Simpson, mocking what she believes is their obsession with beauty, shopping and acting dumb.
Pink says striving to imitate the hottest celebrity squanders a young woman's own individuality and potential. "My definition of 'stupid' is wasting your opportunity to be yourself," Pink says, "because I think everybody has a uniqueness and everybody's good at something.'"
Pink says that if she had compromised herself as a young girl by acting "stupid," she wouldn't be where she is today—a message she hopes to convey to other girls. "If you are going to be the future rock stars [or] whatever you want to be—then you're wasting your time trying to be somebody else because you'll never get to you."
Desperate Housewives star Teri Hatcher recently revealed a painful secret that has tormented her for years. Like one out of four women in the United States, she endured sexual abuse as a child.
Teri says that the abuse damaged her self-esteem, and her mother also played a role in her emotional development. "[My mom] was very self-sacrificing...but almost to a bad point," Teri says. "She just never took anything good for herself, and that was kind of my role model and sort of what I ended up doing."
Her mother's selfless nature inspired the title of Teri's book, Burnt Toast. "It was an expression that came out of my mouth when I was doing a Barbara Walters special," Teri says. "I was explaining what I do, you know, that I eat the burnt toast. I take what is last, and I learned that from my mother."
When Teri celebrated her 40th birthday, she says she began to reevaluate her life and how she wanted to live it. "I thought, 'I don't want to do this anymore. There has to be a balance between taking everything for yourself or taking nothing...and in the middle is the golden buttery brown toast,'" she says.
When Kristin Richard was 25 years old, she was swept off her feet by cyclist Lance Armstrong. During their marriage, Kristin stayed at home and raised their three young children in the French Riviera. From the outside, it seemed like they had a glamorous, happy life...but Kristin says the fairy tale didn't end happily ever after.
After four years of marriage, Lance and Kristin announced their divorce. In the years since, Kristin says she's been able to accept responsibility for the mistakes she made during her relationship. In April 2006, Glamour magazine published an article Kristin wrote called, "What I Wish I Had Known About Marriage."
In her article, Kristin says she gave up her independence after getting married, and in doing so, lost part of herself. "There isn't anything wrong with making sacrifices and working together. But I think as long as each person can hold onto themselves, and it's a mutual experience of growth—that's the beautiful part. That's the point."
Lance and Kristin have been divorced since 2003, but she says their relationship is good. "Lance and I need to go forward honoring each other because that's the way that we can still show our children that love is lasting and love is unconditional."
Robin Givens's turbulent marriage to former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson sparked rumors and headlines. She says that he brutalized her throughout their marriage and he was physically abusive even before they were wed.
It was after she realized what she had allowed to happen to herself that Robin sunk into a deep depression. After years of living in a fog, Robin decided she wanted to change her life. She became committed to getting well. "I talked to a doctor every day and I prayed a lot. ... I started at the bottom rung of just being happy," she says.
For Robin, getting help was the beginning of a whole new life. She says she has redefined herself and her dreams. Since her divorce, she started a family and she says she has focused on trying to be the best mom she can be to her sons.
"I'm in love with those two boys," Robin says. "And life is so good. And I'm here to say also that I'm sure there are people who have felt like I felt. Like maybe they couldn't go on. And you can turn a corner. You can be happy again. You can live."
Considered by many to be the greatest living film actress, Meryl Streep has performed in over 50 films. She's also a two-time Oscar® winner and has been nominated for the Academy Award® an astonishing 13 times!
What does Meryl know for sure? "I know life is short and I'm a lucky woman," she says. "I think that you find your own way. You have your own rules. You have your own understanding of yourself, and that's what you're going to count on. In the end, it's what feels right to you. Not what your mother told you. Not what some actress told you. Not what anybody else told you but the still, small voice. ... Beyond that, I don't know. And it's the not knowing that's the good part. To me, mystery is the most beautiful thing—the fact that you can't figure it out—that's it for me. That's for sure."
America first met Tracey Gold in 1985 when she starred on the hit sitcom Growing Pains. The actress has faced multiple personal crises in the public eye. As a teen she battled anorexia, and in 2002, her son Bailey nearly drowned in the backyard pool.
Then, in 2004, Tracey was in the headlines again. Returning home from a Labor Day barbecue with her family, Tracey lost control of her SUV on the freeway. It veered off the road and rolled over several times down an embankment, injuring her husband and two of her three children.
When police arrived, Tracey was arrested for driving under the influence. Her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit. She says that coming to terms with her DUI was similar to how she's come to terms with her eating disorder. "The correlation with the anorexia for me was that I've always been the person who's the people-pleaser, the person who tries to make everybody else happy. I've come a long way and I've done a lot of work on myself, and I'm really proud of myself about that. But it's still a part of who I am."
"Things don't just happen out of the blue," she says. "It's not a rock falling from the sky. It happens for a reason. [This happened from] not allowing my [inner] voice to sort of just speak for myself. ... I really, really get it now."
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