As a teenager, the actress used to restrict her food intake to stay “too thin,” and then after she gave birth to son Luca in 2012, Duff was frustrated with her post-baby body. Now, she’s learned to embrace her shape.
“It wasn’t until my mind adjusted to not caring as much that I started to figure it all out,” Duff, 30, told Women’s Health of her postpartum body. “I realised that I am never going to be the same again, and that’s okay. I’ve learned to be proud of what my body does for me, and what it did while I was pregnant with my son.”
The Younger star said that recognising her body for what it did — carry and deliver her son, and feed him — helped her get over the fact that the baby weight wasn’t falling off the way it does for other women.
“My body helped create a bond between us, and me being there for him in those first months of his life ultimately was far more important than me trying to get in shape right away,” she said. “And that mental shift helped all the other stuff eventually fall into place.”
Duff added, though, that the societal pressures to be “skinny” make it tough for anyone to love their body.
“It’s terrible that skinny is beautiful,” she said. “There’s a new version of skinny that’s just…unreachable. It’s a really bad look. If we can just try to celebrate being individuals, and try to feel good instead of trying to fit in, I think that would be huge.”
But after moving past the restrictive eating habits she had at age 18, Duff doesn’t feel the need to match that skinny look.
“Now, I’m happy to say that I have a pretty healthy relationship with my body,” she said. “Of course, I’m 5’2″, so any kind of weight that I gain, I see it right away. And sure, I want to look good in my jeans, and I want to feel and look good. But I don’t need to be a super-skinny person. I’m normal, and I have a good relationship with food and indulging myself while being healthy and giving my body what it needs.”
And Duff has a few things on her list of what her body needs: baths, deep breathing, time with her girlfriends and treating herself from time to time.
“It’s helped me be a more patient and understanding person not only with others, but with myself, too,” she said. “To be kinder to myself.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.