Amber Riley Shares Body Image Advice: 'Don't Look Outside of Yourself for Answers'

"You do what's right for you and you take your time," Amber Riley tells PEOPLE

Amber Riley is kicking off the new year with an important message.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the former Glee star, 34, opened up about finding self-confidence and gave advice for those struggling with body positivity.

"Just be kind to yourself," said Riley, who released her single "BGE" (Big Girl Energy) from her self-titled EP RILEY in September. "Don't look outside of yourself for answers. I made that mistake very early on in life. And here now I'm 34, I'm still figuring things out about myself, about my body, but it's be kind to yourself. You don't owe anybody a specific body type. You don't owe anybody, whether that's big or small, you don't owe anybody that."

"You do what's right for you and you take your time, because there is nobody that is so confident," she continued. "I've talked to friends that I think would be like so confident because they reached these standards of beauty in my eyes that this world has, but they have their problems and their insecurities like everyone else. So just be kind to yourself, and be patient with yourself, and speak well, talk to yourself nicely. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't want someone to say to your mother, or sister, or your best friend. Just be kind."

Amber Riley
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Riley's song "BGE" hit fans hard with a similar message.

"When I was writing it, it was about the energy part of it, the big girl energy," she said. "Like putting your big girl pants on, doing what it is that you need to do even if you don't want to do it, taking care of business, loving yourself, having that self-esteem, having that self-love, loving your body. Big Girl Energy is literally the way that you move through life with confidence. And the goal for the song was just people to put it on. The whole goal for the EP was to put the music on and feel something, which is what R&B music is supposed to do, supposed to make you feel something."

"And so with BGE, I really wanted to give a song that was a mood," she continued. "And I think I achieved it, because people talk about what it means to them. And it's all different types of people, all sizes, all shapes, all colors, grabbing on to that idea of motivation."

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This isn't the first time the singer-actress, who recently teamed up with Straight Talk Wireless to get consumers in the holiday spirit with the release of a remix holiday carol, has opened up about body image.

In 2016, Riley took to Instagram after undergoing dental surgery to give a painkiller-fueled speech against her body shamers.

“You know, there are just some things that my sober mind keeps me from sharing. That ends tonight. I’ve got some things I need to get off of my chest,” Riley said in a video.

“Why does me being fat offend so many people? Is it because I’m confident, and I’m fly, and I’m sexy? Do my thighs, offend? Does my stomach, offend? Does my big juicy ass, offend? Why? Why!?”

“Let my big ass live! I let y’all live! I love all colors, shapes and sizes. So, just so you know, when you come on here, and you call me fat, it’s not an insult, dummy. My ass is fat. And the fellas love it. And so do I. So eat it.”

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