Hayden Panetierre on the cover of Self's December issue. (Kenneth Willardt/Self)
"I tried vegetarianism, but my body didn't respond well. I was low-energy. Now I make egg-white scrambles with veggies for breakfast. For lunch, I have chicken or fish and greens, which are good for keeping your system working," she says in the December issue of Self. "I'm a fan of sushi for dinner, as long as the fish aren't endangered. When I indulge, I try to do it in the morning so I can burn it off. It's my responsibility to be healthy and, no, I'm not going to starve. I'm sorry — I can't be full on salad."
The 5'2" 23-year-old, who stars in the new hit drama "Nashville," says she's learned a thing or two about feeling comfortable with her size thanks to the country music capital. "I've grown into myself and my body. In Nashville, you see women, even successful singers, who have voluptuous bodies and everyone is supportive. You don't get the kind of criticism you might in Hollywood," Panettiere tells the magazine." To me, the confident curvy girl is so much sexier than the insecure skinny girl."
And while reports have surfaced over the years of less-than-friendly behavior, including a 2009 incident in Hawaii where she yelled "Back up!" at reporters on the red carpet of a charity event and then screamed "Don't you ever touch me" to a female reporter who tapped her on the shoulder, Panettiere claims she's always been taught to be kind to others. "I've been acting since I was little, and kids are often not treated well on sets. Whenever I'd work with an actor who was good to me, my mom would say, 'Look, that's how you want to be,'" she explains. "I don't believe anyone is born bad or mean; they become that way from anger and insecurity. But even when it's my character being aggressive, not me, I find myself apologizing!"
Indeed, her character on the show, Juliette Barnes, is a sassy and conniving young country crooner looking to dethrone "Queen of Country" Rayna James, played by Connie Britton. It's been a good opportunity, says Panettiere, to get back into the music game. "I sang and started an album when I was younger, but I wasn't proud of how it was going, so I quit. I always said that if I did music in the future, I'd do country," the actress shares. "I love it. But because I'm from New York, I was afraid people would think I was trying to fit where I didn't belong and go, 'She's trying to be Taylor Swift.' I'm not trying to be anybody but myself."
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