"I was mortified," the Nashville actress, now 23, tells the October issue of Women's Health. "It gave me such body dysmorphia for so long. But I remember reminding myself that beauty is an opinion, not a fact. And it has always made me feel better."
Even so, Panettiere's profession has made the 5-foot-1 actress keenly aware of how her body looks on camera. To stay in shape, Panettiere regularly takes the stairs and often attends Bikram yoga classes. And though she loves eating healthy foods like egg whites and strawberries, the Whaleman Foundation spokeswoman doesn't follow a particular diet. "Eating healthy is a constant battle. I love chips," Panettiere tells the magazine. "I find when I'm overly concerned about what I eat, I stress out my body and put on weight."
Perhaps most importantly, Panettiere says she looks her best when she feels her best.
"People can tell when you're happy with being you and when you're not. It's only cheesy because it's true," she tells Women's Health. "As I've gotten older and grown into my body, I've started realizing that the way you carry yourself and that light coming out of your eyes are the most attractive things about you."