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Valerie Bertinelli Shares How She Was Body-Shamed By Her 5th Grade Teacher

And how she’s finally focusing on her emotional health at 60.

Valerie Bertinelli spent the last few months leading up to her 60th birthday in April opening up about her weight struggles. Now, she’s choosing to focus on her emotional health instead of the numbers on a scale.

As someone who grew up in front of the world while starring on One Day at a Time, Bertinelli was under constant scrutiny about her weight. “I was made to feel I could lose a few, like, let’s see if we can get you into a smaller size,” she told PEOPLE. We’re sure you can remember seeing her on tabloid covers as a teen and young adult with harsh headlines, but that’s not where the whole problem actually started.

Bertinelli shared details of a horrifying (and sadly relatable) moment from her childhood that set her off instead. “I remember my fifth grade teacher patted me on the belly and said, ‘You might want to keep an eye on that,'” she revealed. “That was the first time I became really aware of my body.”

We all probably have similar moments we can point to in our lives that made us question how we feel about the skin we’re in. Bertinelli admitted that, like so many of us, she allowed that to shift her mindset to staying thin rather than dealing with the emotions behind it — something she’s finally confronting decades later.

“Now I think: ‘How dare he?’ At that age, we’re so full of joy and then to have someone slap you for nothing. For just standing there,” she said. “Now I can be angry for that little girl. It feels like so much time wasted. I don’t want anyone else to waste any time.”

Bertinelli doesn’t even bother weighing herself much anymore. “I’ll put on some jeans every once in awhile to see how they feel. Why do I have to know the number I am? I know it’s really about the internal work.”

She also finds inspiration from some of today’s body positive celebs, like singer Lizzo and model Ashely Graham. “It would have been nice to have had women like that when I was growing up, to look up to,” she explained. “It doesn’t freakin’ matter what size they are — they glow from within! Thank God for them.”

We have to say, we feel the same way about Bertinelli, who hopes she can be a similar inspiration to others by sharing her story. “If I can help somebody be kind to themselves, hopefully that will help me be kind to myself, too.”

Hopefully we can all follow her lead and treat ourselves with more care and consideration — no matter what any number on a scale has to say.

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