Amy Poehler on Life and Looks: 'I Don't Like Pretending Things Are Perfect'

The Parks and Recreation star opens up in a hilarious, touching new memoir she calls Yes Please

Photo: Robert Trachtenberg

Amy Poehler will be the first to tell you: She’s not some Hollywood babe.

And that’s just fine.

“In a shallow business, I just had to come to terms with being really okay with not being symmetrical,” the Parks and Recreation star tells PEOPLE. “You can spend your life trying to be [perfect], and you can tweak and nip and tuck, and then be afraid to move your face.”

Of course, staying confident is a tricky balancing act.

“There’s a line between feeling healthy, strong and sexy and feeling good about yourself, and being worried about how you measure up,” says Poehler, 43, whose illuminating and hilarious memoir, Yes Please, is exclusively excerpted in this week’s PEOPLE.

“Some days I wake up and I’m just like, ‘All right, I’m feelin’ really good,’ and some days I loathe myself. Just like everyone else.”

And on those days, she admits, neither fame nor fortune gives her a leg up.

“It’s so funny because it doesn’t matter what you do, whether you have your picture in a magazine or you don’t, there are days where you’re just feeling it and other days where you look at yourself and say, ‘Oh my God, who is that old woman in the store window? Oh my God, it’s me!’ ”

The Golden Globe winner credits her mother and father with helping instill a healthy sense of self-worth early in life.

“My parents encouraged me, and I did not have a mother who criticized me about what I looked like or wore,” says Poehler, who enjoyed a “lucky childhood” growing up outside of Boston. “She just never told me that I looked fat, and there was never a huge focus on looks – now what that led to was really terribly documented high school [years]!”

Perspective from Her Children

These days, Poehler also gleans perspective from her kids, sons Archie, nearly 6, and Abel, 4, with her ex-husband Will Arnett.

“They really teach you to stay in the moment, since kids don’t really care about the past or the future, and they’re not interested in hoping for what will come. They’re ‘let’s play now!’ ” she says.

That now also happens to be pretty great. “The older I get, I feel like the better my life has gotten,” says Poehler, who has been dating actor-comedian Nick Kroll since 2013.

“I like hard work and I don’t like pretending things are perfect,” she says – though the star has few complaints.

“I wouldn’t give anything to be back in my 20s at all. Maybe I wouldn’t mind the amount of sleep I got then or for my stomach to be smaller, but mentally, no way.”

For more of Amy Poehler’s interview and to read an exclusive excerpt from her memoir, Yes Please, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

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