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Raven-Symoné Is Combatting Body Critics

Raven-Symoné Is Combatting Body Critics
Raven-Symoné
Richard Young/Startraks

01/15/2009 AT 07:00 AM EST

When she needs a self-esteem boost, Raven-Symoné can count on her biggest fan: her mom.

"She'll call me and say, 'You're very pretty,' " says the former That's So Raven star. "I'm like, 'Thanks, Mommy!' and that's my confidence for the day."

On Thursday, the singer-actress will be helping to boost some of her young fans' confidence when she hosts a hundred 11- and 12-year-old girls at a Dove-sponsored self-esteem workshop in Cape May, N.J.

"It's going to be so much fun," the 23-year-old, who's been working on her fifth album, tells PEOPLE. "We want to build their self-esteem and give them tools to face the world the next day without us there."

The singer-actress has experienced her share of criticism – especially from online "haters" – for her body, which she's called "thick and fabulous."

Handling the Critics

"People come up to me and have certain words for me, but you know what I do? I say, 'I'm healthy, I exercise, I believe in myself, and I think I’m beautiful,' " she says. "You just have to learn how to transform the pressures into something that doesn’t soak into you on a personal level. You see it, you breathe past it, you don’t let it sink into your self-esteem."

And to enforce her positive mantra, if something's got her down, Raven has a simple technique. "At the end of the day I'll call my best friend and yell and scream and get it out," she says. "And the next morning, it's out of my system."

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