Playing teen sexpot Kelly Bundy on Married with Children
for 10 years wasn't easy for Christina Apple-gate. "I've always been pretty self-conscious," says the 27-year-old actress, who didn't relish wearing the midriff-baring tube tops and miniskirts that the role required. "When I put those clothes on for the show, I felt okay. If I had put them on at home, I never would have left the house." Though Applegate made her TV debut when she was 3 months old on Days of Our Lives
in the arms of her actress mother, Nancy Priddy (who was divorced from Bob Applegate, now a sporting-goods marketer, when Christina was a baby), it was not until she began playing a single mom on NBC's Jesse
that she felt comfortable in costume. "Jesse's insides," as she puts it, "are closer to my insides."
Ironically, now that her outsides are more covered up, keeping fit has become a challenge. "I'm knocking on 30's door, and I have to work so much harder to feel good," explains the 5'5 " actress, who tries to exercise five times a week ("I work with a trainer, and I'm way into spinning [bicycling workouts]") and shuns junk food in favor of sushi, veggie burgers and fruit. Often cheering her on in the gym is her boyfriend, Hush
actor Johnathon Schaech, 29. "All the things that are good for ourselves are what we do together," says Applegate. That means not just working out but attending her nondenominational church and visiting Hawaii, where, Schaech says, "there were stunning sunsets, but they were nothing compared to Christina." Applegate's Hollywood Hills roommate, half sister Alisa, 21, a Santa Monica City College student, says her big sis reminds her of Princess Grace "because she's so graceful." Less regal are Applegate's six tattoos. "They're all there to keep me grounded," she says of the designs, which include her church's name, her mom's name, a Hawaiian lei, an om sign and a vine symbolizing her closest friendship. "And then I have a secret one that I don't talk about." Other adornments get shorter shrift. "I'm not into beauty products," says Applegate, who splashes her cheeks with rose water if she looks washed out and lets her hair air-dry. "You know, I read about these women who always have this shade of M.A.C lipstick in their purse," she marvels. "I look in my purse, and there's gum!"