March 13, 2018 04:42 PM

Tracee Ellis Ross has had some unconventional birthday parties.

For her 40th birthday celebration five years ago, the black-ish star rented out a theater, filled it with her friends and undressed down to her bra and underwear. She then pointed out the bodily features she disliked.

“I felt like I needed to embrace those parts, and love those parts of me because they were all a part of me and they were beautiful and I have a lot of pride in it,” Ross explained at Chico’s #HowBoldAreYou event at Joe’s Pub in N.Y.C. on Monday night.

Now at age 45, Ross said that she feels “the sexiest and the most beautiful that I’ve ever felt.”

“I don’t say I look my most beautiful, I FEEL my most beautiful and that’s what’s really important to me and I talk a lot about it.”

Tracee Ellis Ross
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

There are still body parts that stick out for Ross, but she now just recognizes them as “different.”

“Let’s talk about certain things that are confusing at this age,” she said jokingly. “My underarms and the skin around my knees. These are the only complaints I have and they’re not complaints but it’s different, the skin is very different.”

Pointing to her underarms, she added: “What’s happening in this area? It’s fascinating isn’t it? Because the bra is meant to cover this bit but there’s another bit, bit, there’s a whole other bit.”

But Ross said she has finally become the woman she wanted to be as a child.

“You know as a young girl, I had this woman that I dreamt of being, right? And I had her in my head and I would play around with being her in my bedroom and with certain people, but the gift of age is that you actually get to have the boldness and the courage to be that woman, to be that person and I’m experiencing it now and some of the things I’ve discovered in knowing myself is that I actually like myself,” she said.

Her ideal woman possessed characteristics from TV shows featuring her childhood heroines, from Wonder Woman to The Carol Burnett Show to Charlie’s Angels.

“When I thought about it and I put all of those women together, I thought of course I grew up to become a bold woman who thinks I have the power to leap buildings, spin in something gorgeous, and save people, and to be funny and glamorous and empowered in my skin and be in all of my glory because those are the images that I actually saw growing up,” she said.

Now her goal, and part of her partnership with Chico’s, is to be that role model for the younger generation.

“Now we have this beautiful opportunity for Chico’s, for all of these different companies, all of these different people to be celebrating who we are as women, in all phases, all ages, all sizes, all colors, in all aspects of who we are, not because of what we offer in terms of our sexuality but because we actually have voices and lives and we are full, empowered beings that can change the world and also have fun while doing it.”

  • Reporting by MARY PARK

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