"I grew up as a tomboy, and if you've seen photographs of me as a child, you see my mother cut all of my hair off. I had no hair: Picture Sinead O'Connor with a two-week grow-out," Liu laughs. "I was not considered feminine at all, and boys did not look at me. I was a toothpick."
Don't believe her? "I'll show you pictures, and you'll see I'm not lying," the actress insists. "I never looked at myself as a feminine person. My thing was, 'I'm going to be casual and be able to talk to people because I'm hanging out with the guys.'"
It wasn't until Liu attended the University of Michigan, she says, when she "suddenly felt like I understood more about myself and started making choices on my own. I started doing things that I wanted to do and understanding what my place was in the world, and I think part of that was also embracing myself as a woman. I was smart, I could hang with the guys -- I could fall into my own niche category."
Even so, Liu says, "I find that if somebody finds me beautiful, it melts my heart because it's not something I heard most of the time growing up ever."
The Charlie's Angels star -- whose past boyfriends include screenwriter Zach Helm, Celeste and Jesse Forever star Will McCormack and GLG Partners founder Noam Gottesman -- says those feelings have affected her relationships with men.
"I can easily be enticed into some terrible relationship because I'm like, 'Oh, my God, you think I'm beautiful?' You know what I mean? And my friends are like, 'Why did you date that a--hole for so long?'" she tells Michigan Avenue. "I'm like, 'Oh, God.'"