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Elle King ‘Felt Awkward-Looking’ When She Was a Young Girl: ‘You’ll Never Feel Beautiful Unless You Believe It Inside’

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Frazer Harrison/Getty

Elle King may say she’s not “America’s Sweetheart,” but we beg to differ.

In a revealing new interview, the rocker opens up about the insecurities she felt as a child and how she embraced body-positivity over the years. PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at her Up Close and Personal Virtual Reality film, presented by Samsung. (To see the full 360-degree experience, scroll around the video, or check it out on a mobile device.)

“When I was a little girl…I felt awkward-looking, so I would look in the mirror, and I didn’t feel beautiful,” King, 27, says in the clip.

The “Ex’s and Oh’s” Grammy nominee felt pressures to measure up to conventional beauty standards. But her mother, model London King, encouraged her to accept herself.

“My mom always raised me to love myself; she always told me I was beautiful,” King adds in the video. “You’ll never feel beautiful unless you believe it inside. I had to go on my own journey to find that.”

For King, her journey to self-acceptance meant focusing on her passion for creativity, from writing songs — to experimenting with body art.

 

“When I was younger, I started getting tattooed, and so I kind of learned to find beauty in the differences of the world because I don’t look like most people,” says the musician, who got her first ink at 14. “I don’t sing, walk, talk, act like anyone else. That’s what I think is beautiful: People that stand out. Because if we all looked the same, I think the world would be a really boring place.”

Today, the singer has about 50 tattoos, which are inspired by her adventures in life and love, including a recent addition on her chest that is an homage to her fiancé, Andrew “Fergie” Ferguson.

“I met the love of my life, Fergie,” she says. “I got a huge chest piece that’s a knife through a heart — and it’s got his name right through the middle. Just like my song, you’ve gotta live your life like it’s your last damn night: I met him, and the next day, I was supposed to fly back to America, and I didn’t get on my flight.”

Elle King’s Up Close and Personal film will premiere Friday at Samsung 837 in New York, where fans can experience the complete virtual reality experience. (For more information on the event, click here.)