The Pretty Little Liars alum has "developed more confidence" from not focusing on her looks

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Lucy Hale SHAPE cover
Lucy Hale
| Credit: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROSALINE SHAHNAVAS

It took years, but Lucy Hale is finally learning how to appreciate her body and all that it can do.

For too long, the 32-year-old actress judged her body based on what she saw in the mirror, she said in an interview with SHAPE magazine for their October cover.

"Our bodies are so amazing and resilient, and we don't give them enough credit. I spent much of my teen years and early 20s not loving my body and not being good to it," she said.

Hale used to think she just "had to be cute and sit there."

"That's so boring," she said. "I've developed more confidence because I realize I'm more than the way I look. One day, I was like, Wait, I'm a good person. I work really hard. I've been given gifts. I'm smart. I can have good conversations. My idea of beauty is different now. Feeling strong, feeling confident — nothing is better."

Lucy Hale SHAPE cover
Lucy Hale
| Credit: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROSALINE SHAHNAVAS

Now, the former Pretty Little Liars star is "trying to make up" for the lost time, in part by placing a new focus on her workouts.  

"We get only one body. We have to take care of our temple," she said. "I do a lot of strength training because I like to feel strong. I'm 5-foot-2, but I like to feel like a badass and to know that I could kick someone's ass."

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Hale, who stars in the new AMC show Ragdoll, said that finding her power "was the ultimate confidence booster."

"When I was growing up, girls were supposed to be polite and sweet and not speak up, not say anything wrong. That people pleasing carried into adulthood. Then I realized I can be nice but still set boundaries and have people treat me the way I deserve to be treated," she said. "I take no s---, but I'm kind — and it feels great to be both. You can be both. I used to admire other actors who could speak their minds because I couldn't. I didn't know how to do that for so long."

Lucy Hale SHAPE cover
Lucy Hale on SHAPE's October cover, on stands Sept. 10
| Credit: PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROSALINE SHAHNAVAS

Now she's willing to take risks and "fail."

"You've got to step out on the ledge and hope that it works out," she said. "Sometimes it doesn't, and you get your heart broken, but you've got to take that chance. In the long run, it's worth it to be bold. You've got to step out on the ledge and hope it works out. Sometimes it doesn't, but you've got to take that chance."