You might know actress Nia Peeples as Nicole Chapman on the hit TV series "Fame," Karen Taylor on "The Young and The Restless," or conservative mom Pam Fields on ABC's " Pretty Little Liars." But the actress, 51, who knows what it really takes to look good on camera, said she had seen too many women measure themselves against picture-perfect images of TV characters, and she felt compelled to change the conversation about beauty.
"I just felt like this is really disingenuous. I felt like there needs to be a conversation about redefining beauty," said Peeples, who was included among People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in 2008. "Health and beauty is not just about what you apply. If you don't have it together on the inside, then nothing else is going to matter."
The actress and mom set out to spread her holistic approach to beauty with teen viewers and women of all ages.
"With women, the way they look … it's the core of their self-esteem," Peeples said. But true beauty begins by "embracing who you are. You have to start in a place of acceptance of who you are, that you have a very unique light to bring forth. … How you feel about yourself inside has much more impact on your presentation on the outside."
Now, she's tackling the topic in a series of online chats, " More Than Skin Deep: The New Philosophy of Beauty," engaging in a real-time interactive dialogue with fans.
Her next "hangout," Aug. 14, features Mandi Line, the "Pretty Little Liars" costume designer, for a discussion on the "ugly truth of 'PLL' fashion," the actress said, "how we make those teen girls look so beautiful."
Peeples practices the holistic beauty message she preaches, but admits she, too, has fallen victim to insecurities.
"We all have those days where we feel like we aren't meeting the standard," she said. "You must really look at yourself and understand that there are beautiful things in there."
From there, Peeples has come to a place where she has stopped "trying to look like Cindy Crawford" and embraced who she is.
"You have to love yourself. That's the single most powerful thing. Out of that springs: How are you eating? How are you exercising? How are you resting?" Peeples said. "I had to make a conscious effort to … begin loving myself wholly again, and that meant taking time in the morning to meditate."
On her website, the actress shared some simple lifestyle, health and beauty tips - from how much water to drink in a day, recipes for kale smoothies and ways to curb cravings, to daily affirmations to stay on track. But it's all a work in progress, she stressed, and perfection isn't the end goal of her process.
"We are never going to get to a place where we have it all figured out," she said. "Life is a moving, breathing thing. We have to be willing to constantly evolve. Perfection is constant transformation."