She hopes her revealing cover for the AARP Magazine will inspire a leaner, lighter approach to aging

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis has once again decided to bare her soul – and body – to convince women that they will be their most beautiful if they take care of their bodies and age naturally.

The star, whose curves turned heads in such early films as Trading Places and Perfect, will help celebrate her 50th birthday in November by posing gray-haired and topless on the cover of the May-June issue of AARP The Magazine, available March 24.

She made a similar splash in More Magazine in 2002 when she appeared makeup-free and unretouched in a sports bra and briefs, drawing attention at the time to her “fatty little tummy” and other flaws. The point, Curtis tells PEOPLE, is that glam isn’t real, but good health is.

Curtis Drops 20 Pounds on a Simple Diet

A year and a half ago Curtis learned her cholesterol and blood pressure were too high. To fix it, she dropped 20 pounds by giving up “fattening” foods that most Americans would consider relatively healthy – like crackers, bread and granola, which have white flour and sugar and are surprisingly high in fat. She hopes American women will learn from her example.

She also gave away her uncomfortable shoes and most of her jewelry. For one, she doesn’t wear them (save for her wedding band, a necklace with a charm for her daughters, diamond earrings and a watch), and also because she wants to lighten her load off the scale. “I’ve had the experience of going into people’s homes after they’ve died, and I’m amazed at the number of things people amass and never look at again. And I’m just not that person,” Curtis says.

“I’m like the Terminator, that’s what I am,” she adds. “I should have a TV show where I go into people’s houses and terminate their possessions.”

She Finally Learns What Beauty Is

She says she prefers the natural look of her hair, which went gray in her mid-40s. And as sexy as she was in early films, she has more confidence than ever in her looks.

“I think I have finally found what I hope beauty is, or at least, beauty as it applies to me,” says Curtis, the daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis.

She says she agrees with husband and film funnyman Christopher Guest, who once pointed out Jessica Tandy, gray-haired and dressed in a simple dress, as the most beautiful woman in a roomful of glammed-up celebrities. ‘That’s beauty,’ ” Curtis says.

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