No one would ever consider model and actress Brooke Shields fat. No one, that is, except the star’s own famously controlling, alcoholic mother, Teri Shields. “My mother would get drunk and say, ‘Why don’t you move your fat ass,'” Brooke, 53, recalled recently. “So I’ve always believed I had a fat ass.”

Brooke struggled with her self-image, she says, even as she posed for magazines like Vogue. “I was a cover girl, not a supermodel,” she says. “I was ‘neck up’ and always described as ‘athletic.'” While Brooke today is still fit with an enviable body she takes care of — she recently posed in a knockout red bikini for a Swimsuits for All campaign — it took time to overcome her early insecurities.

brooke shields and her mother

“I’d spent my life being worried that my mother was going to die,” she recalls of Teri’s alcoholism. And Brooke admits she married tennis champ Andre Agassi in 1997 in part to get out from under her mother’s control. “I needed Andre to separate [myself] from my mother,” she says, “so that I could start at square one and be a less encumbered version of myself.”

Brooke and Andre divorced, but her path to confidence continued when she married screenwriter Chris Henchy in 2001. “He celebrated my womanliness and my body,” she says. “I would walk backward out of rooms, and he’d say, ‘No, I want to grab onto you!'”

Teri died in 2012, and Brooke happily reports her own daughters, Rowan, 15, and Grier, 12, are “so much more confident in their own bodies” than she was. “They have the same stubbornness and strength that I do, but are more well-adjusted. I am jealous as all hell about that. But, of course, I created it.”

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