April 12, 2018 02:31 PM

 

In February, paparazzi snapped Susan Lucci in a red-hot strapless bathing suit during her vacation in Barbados (see the photo here) and it sent the internet into a frenzy. The 71-year-old soap opera star looked like no time has passed since her days as Erica Kane on All My Children. So when we recently caught up with Lucci, we asked her how she felt about all the attention the photos garnered.

“I was so surprised, I didn’t know there were any paparazzi there,” Lucci tells PEOPLE, saying that once her friends texted her the photos circulating online she thought it was “so nice.”

“I don’t know, this is probably not normal but then around day five I was looking for the paparazzi to thank them because they took really nice pictures,” the ever-gracious Lucci says.

Despite wearing her strapless one-piece (by Eres — similar styles are still available to shop now), she says she still gets too timid to wear certain swimsuit styles. “I occasionally buy a bikini, but I’m too shy to wear it,” she reveals. “There are times we’re in a secluded place, and someone will come up to me on the beach. So I’m a one-piece person!”

RELATED: The Swimsuit Styles Celebs Over 50 Love — for Less

But even though she may not be comfortable wearing a certain bathing suit style, she encourages everyone to be open to trying new styles — no matter their age. “Sometimes we put artificial labels on ourselves and we think, ‘Oh this is appropriate’ and you can end up looking older than you are and nobody wants to do that. You don’t have to get doughty or suddenly because you have a new label on you, ‘Oh I’m 50 so therefore I have to be a certain thing. Follow your heart and look at your rear view as well as your front view!”

For Lucci, she says she finds confidence by keeping the “inner monologue” she has with herself as positive as possible. “As women it’s easy to find the faults in ourselves. Be your own best friend: Don’t compare yourself [to others], and don’t be so hard on yourself.”

Courtesy of QVC

Lucci is actually helping women feel more confident and stylish with her new figure-flattering activewear line for QVC, the Susan Lucci Collection.

“I wanted all the fabrics and cuts to be figure-flattering, so you can feel good and look good while you’re trying to achieve your fitness goals.”

Her collection of tops, leggings and jackets launch with Lucci making an on-air QVC appearance on April 13 at 2 p.m. ET.

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