She may not be a household name (yet), but Jen Lilley is definitely a Real Beauty. The University of Virginia grad may not have begun acting until college but, since then, already has starred as Maxie Jones on ABC’s General Hospital, appeared in the Academy Award winning movie, The Artist, and can also be seen both on MTV’s improvised comedy Disaster Date as well as in the new independent film Turnaround Jake.

More than just being a rising Hollywood star, though, Jen Lilley is also active in numerous charities benefiting under-served children, protecting children against sexual abuse and building wells to provide water to those in need (even having been awarded the National Educators Award in Guatemala) and is one of the newest celebrity ambassadors for the child abuse and treatment organization Childhelp. And as if that weren’t enough, her insight on body image and beauty alone makes her a Real Beauty in our book.

Jen Lilley: On Real Beauty

I think beauty is… knowing who you are, and embracing it.

I deal with the pressure for body “perfection” by… thinking about how marvelously Marilyn Monroe rocked her curves. The truth of the matter is men prefer curves over bean poles.  So when I gain five or ten unwanted pounds, I just find a way to love my body while I cut back on the sugar.

Have a sweet tooth? Try this Healthy Cookie Dough Recipe!

Being in the media affects how I feel about my body… because I know young, impressionable girls look at celebrities as someone with “ideal” body weight. I have to embrace my curves because that’s what I want other women to do.

When the media analyzes or criticizes my body, or the bodies of others, I feel… angry. While I fully support living a healthy and active lifestyle, I also know that being healthy and being skinny aren’t the same thing. Life is about balance. Praising someone for being too thin is dangerous, and criticizing someone who has gained weight isn’t helpful.

The women I most admire are… Angelina Jolie and Meryl Streep.  Angelina works hard, she’s smart and incredibly talented, she loves her kids, and she gives a third of her income to the charities she’s passionate about. I love it. Meryl Streep still irons her own clothes! You have to admire a woman who has won three Oscars, eight Golden Globes, holds the record for the most Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, who is considered the greatest actress of our time, and still does her own laundry.  Hats off to Meryl Streep!

If I could give young women a piece of advice, it would be… know your worth.  You are such a gem, whether you feel like it or not. I definitely wasn’t the most popular girl in school growing up, but I knew that I was created with a purpose. We all have a purpose. We all have meaning. And you know what’s truly beautiful? How unique you are. I think it’s so poetically beautiful that if I tried to be you, with all your quirks and all your passions, I would fail. And you can’t be me. We’re unique, and our worth lies in our individuality. So start figuring out what you like and don’t like, and know that’s it’s more than okay to be unique – it’s admirable!

Where is the Outrage When We Wage War On Ourselves?

My dreams for the future are… to become a children’s book author, have my own fashion line, make-up and beauty line, home design line, and cook book, become a mom, and win an Oscar. (Are you laughing yet?) I like a challenge, and I like being busy, so I’ll keep chasing these dreams ‘til I die, and hopefully see them into fruition.

The one lesson I try to remind myself of is… I am not responsible for the way people act, but I am responsible for the way I respond.

The craziest thing I’ve done for beauty is… bleached my teeth. I got dry sockets in all of my teeth. It was so painful, I couldn’t walk. I will never ever get my teeth professionally bleached again. Hello DIY Crest Whitestrips, we meet again.

The one style tip I swear by is… wear what makes you feel pretty. If you feel confident, you’ll look beautiful.

My 3 cannot-live-without-them beauty products are… Maybelline Colossal Volume Express Mascara, Elemental Herbs All Good Goop for just about anything skin related, and RoC Deep Wrinkle Cream to smooth out fine lines and combat future wrinkles.

Right now I am… wearing pajamas, eating a bowl of Kix cereal, and loving every second of it.

Try this healthy granola recipe!

Photography Credit: Jenn Hoffman


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