The actress sits down with PEOPLE at Aerie's #RealTalk event

By Brittany Talarico
Updated December 15, 2016 06:59 PM
Michael Simon/StarTraks

Lea Michele isn’t shy about showing off what her mama gave her. And she’s also not shy about slamming any body shamers that come her way. That’s why the actress teamed up with Aerie to share in the brand’s liberating campaign and take a stance against photo shopping and retouching.

“It’s refreshing,” she told PEOPLE of the #aerieREAL movement at a pop-up shop in New York on Thursday. “I think it’s really great. I’ve always had a platform coming off of being on Glee, of just really being proud of who I am and what I look like and my uniqueness and embracing that and I’ve talked often about how I feel that that’s really what’s helped me to get to where I am today. I think that Aerie is such an amazing brand for young girls to see campaigns where they see girls for what they really look like. It’s empowering and its really good for this generation.”

And the actress knows first hand how it feels to look at a photo and not recognize yourself.

“When people change my nose its very clear to me. I’m like ‘That’s not my nose!,'” she shared. “But they don’t do it that often with me — I mean, I’ve seen situations with other celebrities where it’s aggressive how much things get retouched or photoshopped. What I think fans love to see about me is what I really look like and so magazines sometimes give people what they want with me. They’re like, ‘Ehh we’ll just leave her as she is.'”

Michael Simon,

Michele has been very vocal about the scrutiny in Hollywood, explaining that where were times she felt pressure to get a nose job.

“I was one of the only girls in my high school that didn’t get one,” she told GQ in 2010. “And if anybody needed it, I probably did. But my mom always told me, growing up, ‘Barbra Streisand didn’t get a nose job. You’re not getting a nose job.’ And I didn’t.”

She added that staying away from plastic surgery has allowed her to grow her platform and inspire young women.

“That’s why I’m proud, to be a voice for girls and say, ‘You don’t need to look like everybody else. Love who you are.’”

Do you stand by Michele’s empowering message? Share below!

–reporting by Kristen Caires