For Glamour’s September issue, we photographed 54 incredible women across America and asked them to define themselves. The results were brilliant, funny, and inspiring—read them all here—and create a stunning portrait of what it is to be a woman in America today. (As our editor-in-chief puts it: “We’re all unicorns.”) Here, Dakota Fanning—who stars in the upcoming movies Brimstone and American Pastoral—talks growing up in the spotlight, her best advice, why it’s OK to be weird.
GLAMOUR: What does it mean to you to be an American woman in 2016?
DAKOTA FANNING: Well, I think that this is a really amazing time for women. Especially in the last year for me, I’ve really been celebrating the female relationships in my life. My best friends are the same friends I’ve had since I was 14 years old. I’m very proud to be a woman—you’re part of a tribe. Automatically, you feel connected to another woman when you meet them. That’s really special. And I’ve started to really realize and feel that. There’s just something you can relate to immediately, even without knowing a woman. It’s an inherent thing, an inherent connection. I’m really appreciating it and valuing that.
GLAMOUR: What’s your best advice for the women reading Glamour?
DF: I think that we have two things going on in the world right now. We have one sort of vibe that’s love who you are, be yourself, love your flaws, embrace your body, embrace your inner beauty, all of that. And then we have another very looks-based thing happening at the same time, you know? My advice would be to go with the “love who you are, embrace yourself” vibe that’s happening right now. It’s hard to remember when you look at a magazine or when you look at pictures of people, and you forget that those people are people like you. They have flaws and insecurities. That’s so easy to forget, even for me, as somebody who’s sometimes in those magazines.
GLAMOUR: You grew up in the spotlight. Do you have any advice for a young actress coming into herself?
DF: It can be easy to get caught up in craziness or insecurity. But I think for me, I feel really lucky. I’ve gone the opposite way. Having grown up in it, it’s made me more confident and have a thicker skin. You can’t lose yourself. You have to stay true to your true friends and your family. I’ve maintained a very normal life when I’m not doing something like this or working. You know? And my friends are the friends I’ve had forever, that’s kept me very sane. I also have amazing parents and an amazing sister, so it’s just important to stay true to that.
GLAMOUR: What’s the best fashion or beauty advice you’ve been given in during your career? And who gave it to you?
DF: A lot of people tell me this, but it’s something that I really, really stick to: Don’t touch your brows. I’ve never done anything to my eyebrows.
GLAMOUR: Lucky. They’re nice.
DF: Karl Lagerfeld once told me to let my hair grow and never cut it, so I’ve been trying to do that.
GLAMOUR: Have you?
DF: Yeah. And because I’m a pale person, I take care of my skin religiously. I wear sunscreen. I use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer. I’m the girl that’s on the beach with a hat on, under an umbrella. Like, very shaded. But my weird thing is, I only tan my legs. My whole body’s covered in the shade, and I tan my legs.
GLAMOUR: What’s one thing you never skimp on?
DF: Oh, TV. I never skimp on TV. I watch an embarrassing amount of TV shows. I don’t even know how I do it. I don’t really know. I watch all the Real Housewives—I’m liking New York this season—and Game of Thrones. I just finished Broad City and I can’t believe I’ve just discovered it. I feel like such a fool. [Laughs]
GLAMOUR: Those girls are amazing.
DF: I am obsessed with them to an embarrassing level. Also, did you watch the show Togetherness?
DF: My best friend and I were at this dinner, and Amanda Peet was there. I think we overwhelmed her! We just kept being like, “We love you so much, and we love the show. We love you!” And she was like, “Thank you, thank you.” I was like, “No, but seriously.” She was like, “Yeah, yeah. Thanks.” I just don’t skimp on TV. Even if I’m exhausted and so tired and it’s 12 A.M. and a Sunday night, I’ll still watch Game of Thrones. I will stay up, and I will watch it. I totally screw my sleep schedule up.
GLAMOUR: In what ways would you consider yourself American?
DF: I do feel very American. I think it’s something I’m proud of and proud to be by chance born here. Honestly, that’s something I think about. Because I have traveled to a lot of places, and you look at another young person who lives under very different circumstances than you but has the same dreams or the same interests or might be better at what I do than what I do. But I was born in a different place, and she was born in a different place. Just for that alone, you’re kind of inherently given opportunity. That’s something that I’m very grateful for, but I’m also very aware of. It’s not a fair thing, but it’s a reality. So I feel very lucky to have the opportunity, but it’s important to be a global citizen at the same time and appreciate different cultures and different people and different ways of life. I feel very lucky to have been able to travel and see different parts of the world.
GLAMOUR: It reminds me, my mom was born in Morocco. When she grew up, she was like, “I want my children to be born in the United States.”
DF: My grandmother was German, and she was the same way. She didn’t teach any of her children German. She really wanted them to be American. And now, she’s since passed away, I get so frustrated sometimes. I’m like, “Oh, Oma, why didn’t you teach your kids German?” My dad would have spoken German to me from birth, and I would have spoken German.
GLAMOUR: Well, it’s never too late. So, if you could give yourself a one-sentence tagline that would sum you up, what would it be?
DF: I should ask my friends. I was with all my friends this weekend. We were out at our friend’s house for his sister’s graduation party, and we all got home and were eating dinner and just kind of collapsed. I think a lot of my weird qualities had come out over the weekend because one of my closest guy friends, who I’ve known forever and went to high school together, looked at me and was like, “You’re a really weird person.”
GLAMOUR: In a good way?
DF: Yeah, of course. He was saying it with love. I was like, “You’re just realizing it?” He was like, “No, I’m not.” I think the straw that broke—we were eating sushi, and they were like, “Here’s soy sauce.” And I was like, “No, no, no, I don’t want it.” And they were like, “You don’t want soy sauce? You don’t like soy sauce?” I was like, “Yeah, I like it. Just, it’s not a necessity. I don’t need to have it. I don’t want it.” And he was like, “You’re a really weird person.” [Source]