For Shenae Grimes, landing a starring role on the CW’s 90210 brought with it a move from her native Toronto to Los Angeles—and relentless tabloid criticism of her body, including rumors of an eating disorder. But although the 5’3″ Grimes, 19, jokes about having “the figure of a 12-year-old boy” (indeed, her BMI classifies her as underweight), she became emotional during a sitdown with PEOPLE’s Monica Rizzo, explaining, “It’s mean to make fun of anybody for the way they look.”
PEOPLE: I’m going to go ahead and ask: Do you have an eating disorder?
Grimes: No! But I love that you’re asking me. No one wants to ask. Someone said to me, “You’re not fighting back—does it mean you’re okay with people saying these things about you?” And I said, “No, but nobody has asked me what I think about it.” It’s so frustrating! If you really want to know, I have a close background with eating disorders; my best friend in the world suffered, and I had to deal with it for eight years. That was a huge thing.
PEOPLE: So what do you say to people who think you’re too thin?
Grimes: Meet me in person, and you can’t say anything. No bones sticking out! I’m not gaunt, I’m not scary. At one point, they said I was 85 lbs. And then they said my average weight when I’m healthy is apparently 120. I’m sorry, but 120 on my frame? I’d be a little chunky monkey walking around!
PEOPLE: How much do you weigh?
Grimes: I’ve weighed 100 lbs. soaking wet since puberty.
PEOPLE: Really? You’re not thinner now than, say, two years ago?
Grimes: There have certainly been times in my life when I’ve been so stressed out from working so much that I forget to eat as much as I should. Especially on-set where we are go, go, go. And if I lose 5 lbs., it totally makes a difference on my frame.
PEOPLE: But you haven’t been trying to lose weight?
Grimes: Coming to L.A., everyone is super-health conscious—so I’ve been eating greener and watching what I eat. For breakfast I’ll have coffee, and fruit and an omelet or bacon and eggs. I’ll snack on fruit, veggies, and crackers and cheese, and then for lunch I’ll have chicken and veggies. Then my second meal at work is usually Chinese food.
PEOPLE: That actually sounds like a lot of food!
Grimes: I’m very lucky with my metabolism. And my family is thin. My mom’s a fitness instructor, and she’s all muscle. She’s petite on top—but she’s got a butt, which I’m so jealous of! I wish I had that. My dad is super-scrawny on the bottom, and that’s what I got.
PEOPLE: How do you feel about your body?
Grimes: It took me a while to accept that I’m not going to have the curves other girls get. That was a huge deal for me growing up—I’d wear padded bras with stuffing! And then as my friends turned 16, 17, they got bigger but I stayed the same. It’s something I’ve had to overcome.
PEOPLE: How have you done that?
Grimes: Nobody should want to be anything they’re not. I’m in proportion, I’m just small. My attitude is: This is what God gave you. Rock it, dude!