Read Katherine Schwarzenegger's 'Rock What You've Got'

Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter tackles women and their body image in new book.

ByABC News via GMA logo
June 4, 2010, 1:13 PM

Sept. 16, 2010— -- In her new book, Katherine Schwarzenegger, Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter, delves into her own life to help other girls and women develop a healthy body image.

Schwarzenegger talks about the influences and pressures on women and girls to be magazine-perfect. Her advice? Take a realistic, and happy, look in the mirror to see what is truly beautiful.

Read an excerpt of the book below and head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

"I hate myself!" I cried to my mother.

"I'm fat, I'm ugly, I'm stupid, and I feel totally disgusting!" I was ten years old and painfully suffering as only one can in the fourth grade, but this was the first time I could recall revealing my worries about my appearance to anyone.

I shared my prepubescent misery with my family on a flight from Los Angeles to Sun Valley, Idaho, where we were headed for a weekend getaway. I didn't want to go on the trip because. I had my first lengthy report due for school, and I was totally nervous about it. This was the first time I had a homework assignment that completely overwhelmed me. The dreaded fourteen-page "Nobel Report" struck fear in the hearts of kids in the lower grades, who knew that when they reached fourth grade they would finally be assigned this project. My brain was on overload. I was tired, feeling insecure, and downright mad about having to go on the trip. By the time our plane took off, I was headed for a full-on meltdown.

Clearly, how I looked on the outside was only part of the issue when it came to how I was feeling on the inside. I used my frustration to vent all of the pent-up unfamiliar feelings I was having about myself. I knew I didn't like my teacher very much, and I was doing awful in school for the first time. I was being challenged in my classes in ways I had never been before. Whenever I raised my hand to ask a question about something that confused me, I could hear the other kids in my class, mostly the boys, snicker and call me names.

"How could she not know that?" I'd hear one boy say while another would cough out the word stupid.

My reaction to their comments was to fake a sudden understanding of the lesson that had been confusing me and hope the teacher would just move on.

Now, for those of you who don't know my parents, my mother, Maria Shriver, comes from a very powerful and competitive family. She has been successful throughout her life as a top investigative reporter, broadcast news journalist, and is currently first lady of California. Of course, my father is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California and yes, he was the Terminator! He is also a former Mr. Universe and Mr. Olympia, two titles he earned as a champion bodybuilder. But to me, they're just "Mom" and "Dad." Despite their fame and success, I grew up in a pretty normal home, dealing with issues that all families contend with.

Sometimes we disagreed with one another, but our home life was always filled with love, compassion, and understanding.

My mom was especially concerned about us growing up in Los Angeles because she didn't want us to become spoiled Hollywood kids. Given our unique family circumstances, she worked hard to give us as normal an upbringing as possible, teaching us to be good kids, to respect them as parents, to show respect to others, to be grateful, polite, appreciative, and to be educated about money, to stay down-to-earth, and to give back to our community.

Looking back, I can genuinely say that I am truly grateful that my parents sheltered us from the public eye. This may sound like an easy task, but it was probably the hardest thing they had to figure out as parents—how to give their kids a normal childhood even though they were always in the spotlight. And the fact that we all had a very recognizable last name didn't make their job any easier.

Both of my parents grew up feeling very confident with a strong sense of self-worth, gifts they were doing their best to pass on to my three younger siblings and me. A self-defeating attitude, pity parties, and self-loathing aren't a part of their worlds, and it wasn't how they were raising their children.

Whenever I told my mom I didn't feel smart, she assured me that I was a bright and intelligent girl. If I told her I felt ugly, she'd tell me I was beautiful. When I told her I was miserable, she'd remind me how blessed I am. My mom had a way of knowing how to turn my negative statements into positive ones, something I had yet to learn. I knew she said things like that to comfort me, but it didn't always make me feel better because, well, let's face it, she is my mom. She's supposed to say those things to me, right? I actually believed it was her responsibility to tell me stuff like I am beautiful when I feel unattractive or that I am not fat when I think I am. I thought all moms did and said things like that to get their daughters through the awkward years. After all, they were once young like us too. But I realize now that not all mothers say these things to their daughters, and it is a big deal.

When my younger sister, Christina, and I were babies, my mother constantly reminded us that we had to be more in life than just a pretty face. My father took a videotape of us sitting in our high chairs saying aloud, "I'm beautiful, smart, nice, and kind . . ." over and over with hand motions to go along with it. It's a little embarrassing to look at now, but it was the start of building our self-confidence and self-esteem.

With that kind of support and positive reinforcement growing up, it may seem strange that I was suddenly feeling so much doubt and insecurity. Admittedly, I consider fourth grade to be one of my "chubby" years as a kid. I felt overweight, and looking back at old pictures of myself, I can honestly say I wasn't fat, but I certainly felt that way.

Up until then, I was always pencil thin. Without warning and with little awareness that it was happening, my body had changed. I was no longer the skinny little girl I had always been. In fact, the changes were so unexpected that I thought something must be wrong because I was inexplicably gaining weight.

I wasn't eating any differently than I used to.

I wasn't going through puberty . . . yet.

My body just changed, which I wasn't ready or properly prepared to face.

As we reached our cruising altitude on the flight to Idaho that day, I was now all out sobbing. Instead of comforting me, my mom took out a pad of paper and a pen. She drew a line down the center of the paper and wrote "Likes" and "Don't Likes" at the top of each column. She asked me to list all of the things I liked about myself and then the things I don't. I had to really stop and think about the things I liked.