updated 02/17/2009 AT 10:00 AM ET
•originally published 02/17/2009 AT 11:00 AM ET
Think Kelly Clarkson looks too good to be true on the cover of her upcoming CD? You’re right, says the singer.
“No girl is perfect,” Clarkson – who joked on her blog last month that “they Photoshopped the crap out of me!” on her sexy All I Ever Wanted cover image – told a group of Girl Scouts recently. “No girl wakes up every day and is like, ‘I’m awesome!’”
In fact, she told the group of about 20 pre-teens gathered in Nashville Feb. 11 for a self-esteem workshop sponsored by Dove, “just to let you know everyone in the magazines is Photoshopped! Beyoncé is one of the most beautiful girls in the world but she gets Photoshopped too. We’re all human!”
Clarkson, 26, knows what it’s like to have her body image picked apart. “It affected me when people were saying about me and some other artists that we were the ‘thicker’ ones,” she tells PEOPLE. “I’d be a liar if I said I was always fine with it. But I’m wise enough by now to know that you’re never going to please everyone so you may as well stop trying.”
It was a lesson the American Idol champ learned when she appeared on the show seven years ago and saw her voice – and image – become fodder for gossip.
“I learned right then to stop reading press. Either you’re going to get a big head or you’ll get depressed and neither one is great. I don’t buy magazines like that. Even if I’m not in them, it’s just healthier to get away from that kind of thinking,” she says. “It’s horrible – they’ll show celebrities with cellulite and it’s like, ‘Of course celebrities have cellulite! We’re not fem-bots!’”
Clarkson says she’s seen the effect of such body image scrutiny on friends in the public eye. “They melt down because of it,” she says. “There is a lot of pressure.”
But the singer, whose album All I Ever Wanted is due out March 10, says she’s come to terms with it.
“When I’m on the red carpet, it’s not even a question anymore,” says Clarkson. “Usually people are very encouraging and tell me they love that I’m normal.”
Normal was plenty good for 10-year-old Shelby Davis, one of the Girl Scouts attending the workshop.
“She has a whole bunch of self-esteem,” Davis says of the Grammy-winning star. “She’s someone you can look up to.”