Lea Michele was pressured to get a nose job at 13 — here's why she refused

The "Glee" star opens up about body-image pressure in Hollywood and her PCOS diagnosis.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Lea Michele

Lea Michele is known for her starring roles in TV shows like "Glee" and "Scream Queens" and Broadway productions like "Spring Awakening." So it's hard to imagine the powerhouse singer and actress was ever told she'd need to alter her appearance in order to make it in Hollywood. In a chat with TODAY Style, as part of her partnership with T.J. Maxx and The Maxx You Project, Michele explains why she refused to have a nose job and why keeping it real on social media is so important to her — especially when it comes to her polycystic ovary syndrome diagnosis.

I love my nose because it's mine. Growing up, I worked on Broadway and I always wanted to transition into possibly doing film and television. From a very young age, I must've been maybe only 13 years old, I started being told by managers and agents that in order to make it on television or be on covers of magazines that I was going to have to get a nose job.

I think that people should be able to make their own choices. If that's something that someone wants to do, then great; it's your body and it's your choice. But no one was going to make that choice for me. And I didn't want to do that.

I wanted to look at my face and have it be my face. And why I'm so grateful that I chose that — made that decision and stuck true to what was right for me — was because I did move to Los Angeles and I ended up landing a role that, maybe if I had looked different, I wouldn't have gotten the job.

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And then I wouldn't have been able to play Rachel Berry (on "Glee"), and my whole life would be different. It really was a big turning point for me many years ago. And, yeah, when I look at my nose it reminds me of my dad and he has a really big nose. And I just love it. And it's mine.

I've never considered altering how I look. If it's something that I'd been thinking on my own for a while, that might've been one thing.

I'm really grateful; I have an incredible mother and father who have truly instilled a really great foundation in me of strength and staying true to myself. And I was able to look at that person and just know that this is something that you want me to do; it's not truly what I want for myself. And I stuck true to that choice. And I'm very, very grateful for that.

I get asked the question a lot, like, what would I tell my younger self? And honestly my response is always the same: I would just say to my younger self, "Just keep doing what you're doing. You're doing great." I was a confident little girl. I was. And I really owe a lot of that to my parents.

I think that that's really what has helped me get to where I am today. So I would just tell my younger self, "Stick with who you are. Embrace your individuality and be open to the changes that life will bring your way with confidence and grace. And, you're doing great."

There's a lot of things that I like to keep personal. I think that as someone who works in front of the camera, and especially with social media these days, there are very few parts of my life that I can keep private. But when I found out that I had PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) about two years ago, it really just turned my world upside down.

I gained a lot of weight and my skin went crazy. And I actually I didn't say anything publicly at first, but then I started to realize that so many girls have this and it's actually very common. And I just decided that I wanted to talk about it because I really believe that there is this facade that we as actors, or whatever, have, making it seem like everything is perfect.

And, you know, it's not. There's stuff behind the Instagram filter. And I've always wanted to be that person for fans of mine, especially young girls, to show that we go through the same stuff and that I don't want to be perfect. I don't want to show only the perfect things. I want everyone to know that we all go through the same things, especially as women.

And then once I did (start talking about it), I had so many people come to me to say that they have it as well, and it was very comforting. So it was actually a scenario where I thought I was doing something to help other people and they actually ended up helping me a lot.

As told to TODAY's Emily Sher. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.