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Denise Richards, 51, doesn't identify as a 'sex symbol': 'I don't think I realized what the magnitude of that was'

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Unapologetically is a Yahoo Life series in which women and men from all walks of life get the chance to share how they live their best life — out loud and in living color, without fear or regret — looking back at the past with a smile and embracing the future with excited anticipation.

As a mom of three daughters, Denise Richards knows the importance of honing a healthy body image.

“When I was working out, I would never use the words ‘being in shape,’ or anything like that — it was just, ‘be healthy,’” the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star, 51, explains. “So that’s something I instilled in my girls from a very young age. I think it’s important, especially now, for us to embrace our bodies and be strong — to be empowering, and owning it.”

The actress currently stars as a “very strong, powerful” boss in Amazon Freevee’s first original movie, the romantic comedy Love Accidentally — and it’s not her only venture.

Recently, the reality star has taken her mantra of empowerment and applied it to her 18-year-old daughter Sami Sheen’s decision to join OnlyFans. While Sheen (whose father is Charlie Sheen), was hit with swift backlash for joining the site, as it's often associated with sexually explicit content, Richards put out a statement of support — and, later, she joined the platform herself. She tells Yahoo Life that she appreciates the platform allowing creators to control the “narrative of their own content” and to “engage with fans in a more dynamic way.”

“I also wanted to support my daughter because I felt it was unfair that she was getting so much backlash being on there,” Richards notes. “I educated myself and if I didn't agree, I would not have joined.”

Richards may be a supportive mom, but she also makes sure to tell her daughters about the experiences she regrets during her time in the spotlight — including her choice to get cosmetic surgery.

“I tell them, if I could do it all over again, I would not have had implants,” the former Bond Girl says. “As far as Botox and fillers," she says only, "I move my face too much.”

Richards — who was recently photographed by her husband Aaron Phypers in a stars-and-stripes bikini over Fourth of July weekend — says she’s also not eager to claim the term “sex symbol.”

“I’m grateful that my husband can take a picture of me in a bikini, or whatever, but I don’t see myself as a sex symbol,” she says. “Not at all.”

In fact, Richards has never identified with the label — despite the world using it for her from such a young age, thanks to movies like Wild Things.

“I don't think I realized what the magnitude of that was,” she says of her rise to fame. “I'd walk by seeing myself on magazine covers and stuff and [be] like, Oh, that’s not me. I'm in, like, my jeans, a T-shirt, at the grocery store. I see myself that way.”

Ultimately, however, Richards says it’s “confidence” that “makes a woman sexy,” regardless of body type.

“Anyone that exudes confidence is, to me, so sexy,” she explains. “Beauty really, truly is from within.”

—Video produced by Stacy Jackman.

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