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March 17, 2014

Shailene Woodley: This is What Badass Looks Like


Photo Credit: Jan Welters

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Ironically, Woodley has just begun to feel she has definitively left her teenage years behind. "For the first time, I feel like I'm entering my womanhood," she says. "I've decided to take a few months off, just to see who I am as that woman in the world, because I've never been able to experience it outside of this industry."

All this time, Woodley has been boiling water in a kettle and going back and forth to the bathroom, where she has prepared some herbs so we can treat ourselves to a DIY joint facial. She has brought sachets of organic grains, French clay, and kelp, put together by a company called Mountain Rose Herbs, which organized the 2011 Rootstalk Festival ("a celebration of plants, people, and planet") in Oregon, where Woodley met the people who are now her best friends. This is what she loves: herbalism, barefoot running, living in a house in Topanga Canyon (until she gave it to her grandmother). She'd like to live off the grid if she could and raise chickens and sheep.

Woodley is remarkably relaxed about exercise and food (though she's addicted to raw chocolate and makes her own). Unless it's for a yoga class or a 5Rhythms session, she doesn't go to the gym. "My whole life I've been so self-conscious about being skinny. And just recently I don't care anymore. All insecurities are projected because of what you think others are saying about you, but they don't really matter at all. My only real insecurities in high school were having such long legs and thick hair—things I'm so very grateful for now." We put towels on our heads over steaming basins dotted with dried rosebuds and chamomile. "It's funny being in this industry," she continues in a muffled voice under her towel, "because everyone I talk to is like, 'What diet are you on? What thing do you subscribe to?' It's like, 'Dude, diets are not the healthiest things in the world.'" Her calm is all the more remarkable for the fact that she suffers from scoliosis. As a teenager, she had to wear a brace 18 hours a day for two years. "It didn't faze me," she says with a shrug. "I was like, 'Some people have crooked teeth, some people have broken fingers, and I've got a back that—'" she laughs a little—"'has my initial on it.'"

"How do you stay so grounded?" That, according to Woodley, is everyone's favorite question. But she has only to think about the way she was brought up to respond: "There's no choice." Both her parents are psychologists—her mother is a middle school counselor, and her father, a former school principal, is a family therapist. Though they are divorced, they all spend Christmas together with their respective partners. "We're like a big Greek family, but we're not Greek," says Woodley, who was raised with her younger brother, Tanner, in Simi Valley, California.

Her parents' response to an agent's approach when Woodley was 5 was, by her account: "What's an agent? Who are you?" But Woodley, who went to acting classes as a form of day care, was passionate about it. "I loved that it was a challenge. I loved that I got told 'no' 500 times, because it was something I had to work hard at. It was never a competitive thing for me, and it still isn't."


Credits: Dress, price upon request, Leggings, $2,890, Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane; Sneakers, $47, Vans.

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