Let’s be real, sometimes feeling comfortable in your skin is a lot easier said than done, right? Well, the truth is, you’re not the only one who thinks so. You see, celebs struggle with their self-confidence, too. And believe it or not, Dove Cameron says she’s definitely one of them. The Descendants 2 star admits to J-14 that while she may appear to be confident now, that wasn’t always the case. “I’ve had to work on my confidence just like everyone else,” she reveals.

Twenty-one-year-old Dove tells us that when she was younger, if she ever heard a negative comment from someone about how she did her hair, makeup or even dressed, it really got her down. She just couldn’t get what they had said about her out of her mind.

“I used to care way too much about how others saw me when I was growing up and it ended up affecting how I saw myself,” she shares. “It made me really insecure, especially when I was 18 and 19 [she was 17 in 2013 when Liv & Maddie premiered]…those years were rocky for me when it came to my self-esteem. It’s just hard when you feel like other people are trained to bring you down, instead of to build you up, and that’s just never cool.”

liv and maddie

Today, Dove says other people’s opinions don’t affect her like they used to. Over the years, she’s learned that all that truly matters is how she sees herself. “I think that’s the secret,” she tells J-14. “You have to learn to love yourself so that your view of yourself trumps everyone else’s. Once you can get to that place, it really does make all the difference in your self-esteem.”

So how can you get to that positive mindset? Dove has a few suggestions that she says worked wonders for her! “You need to get in a routine of being your biggest fan,” she explains. “I think people kind of go about their lives and wait for happiness to hit them like an arrow, or sometimes, they think others can bring them happiness, so they just rely on that. But, you need to know that you can be your own source of happiness — you don’t need a boyfriend or a friend to tell you that you’re beautiful in order for you to feel that way.”

Instead, Dove says you need to give yourself a compliment (or more!) all of the time. “It’s important to tell yourself that you’re beautiful!” she shares. “You shouldn’t feel bad about doing that. There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself and openly expressing what you like about yourself. Doing so doesn’t mean you’re a vain person or that you’re full of yourself. It just means you like who you are and are happy in your skin.”

Once you start being your own biggest fan, Dove says you’ll notice a shift in confidence. “Girls should be proud of themselves and own 100% of who they are,” Dove tells J-14. “I want to help others feel good on the inside and outside without them having to hear things from others to do so. Trust me, once you start telling yourself nice things over and over again, those words will really start to sink in!”

Interview and story by Morgan McMurrin. “Dove Cameron: ‘It’s important to tell yourself you’re beautiful!” originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of J-14.

Watch: Dove Cameron Exclusively Dishes on Descendants 2

Love J-14? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for fun, exclusive videos with your favorite stars.