The iconic supermodel and actress caught up with PEOPLE at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in New York City on Nov. 11

By Hanna Flanagan
November 12, 2019 01:00 PM

Brooke Shields is teaching body positivity.

Speaking with PEOPLE at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards on Nov. 11 in New York City, the legendary supermodel and actress opened up about navigating body image conversations with her daughters Rowan Francis, 16, and Grier Hammond, 13 (who she shares with husband Chris Henchy).

“Their bodies are so important to them,” Shields, 54, told PEOPLE at the event, which was hosted by Busy Philipps and honors female change-makers across a wide variety of industries. “Whatever you say is heard, so you have to really be careful how you say whatever it is you’re saying to girls in particular.”

“I really have to be like, ‘How would this sound if it was said to me at 13?’,” Shields — who rose to fame at age 12, playing a child prostitute in the 1978 film Pretty Baby — said. “I celebrate the differences in their bodies.”

The former Calvin Klein ad campaign star also said she wants her daughters to stand up for themselves and forget about pleasing the people around them.

Rowan Henchy, Brooke Shields, and Grier Henchy
Credit: Sonia Moskowitz/WireImage
Brooke Shields and daughter Grier Henchy
Credit: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images
2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Award

“I learned to say ‘no’ this year and it came through me saying to my daughters, ‘This does not have to be your problem. You don’t have to take care of everybody all the time’.” she explained. “You try to teach them to take the high road but at times, you have to say, ‘That did not make me feel good. I didn’t appreciate it. I’m not going to succumb to that level’.”

Despite a new wave of second generation supermodels taking the fashion industry by storm, both Rowan and Grier tend to stay out of the public eye.

Brooke Shields and daughter Grier Henchy
Brooke Shields with daughter Grier
| Credit: Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images

Speaking with Porter last year, Shields said her daughters are “confident” and “well-adjusted.”

“[My daughters] are so much more mature than I was, so much more confident in their own bodies,” the star told the outlet. “They have the same stubbornness and strength that I do, but are more well-adjusted. I am jealous as all hell about that. But, of course, I created it.”

Throughout her career, Shields has been open about the severe body image issues that plagued her growing up in the public eye and the impact of being sexualized at such a young age.

Brooke Shields
Credit: Jim Spellman/Getty

“I had a very strong disconnect to my body,” the actress told Yahoo Lifestyle in September. “I was the face on the covers, I was the eyebrows or the face or whatever the thing was that people and the press and everybody focused on. And because I was never really skinny, I never did runway. So I was always the one that was doing the magazines but often never fit into the samples.”

“I’m trying to present to [my daughters] the image of a whole woman, which was very different from the way I grew up,” Shields told the outlet. “I don’t want them to have any of that shame but I want them to maintain a sense that their body is their body, it’s their own.”