"It changed me completely because I haven't always had an inner confidence," Simpson, 29, said Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "The journey really was finding something beautiful inside me, and [knowing that] I own it."
As a performer and celebrity, Simpson has been a shape-shifter in every sense of the word. She was a sexy vixen in short-shorts as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard, but she's also tried to emulate iconic beauties, such as Lana Turner and Brigitte Bardot, in photo shoots for magazines from W to Vanity Fair.
Indeed, every aspect of Simpson's appearance – her bust size, hairstyle, weight, you name it – has been scrutinized and sometimes held up for ridicule in the media. Though sometimes hurt by the treatment she's received, Simpson says the commentary helped her gain perspective while working on The Price of Beauty.
"I've always had a calling to be a positive light and role model for girls and women in the world," Simpson says. "This show is my light. You'll see my life changed.
"[I've] had to go walk the runway with tall, skinny models, and I almost puked," Simpson added. "A runway? I'll be the first to fall on my face!"
One lesson she learned while filming her new show: "You can't let anyone else [define] beauty for you. I carry myself differently [now]. And any man I find, they are going to be darn lucky."
The Price of Beauty premieres on VH1 at 10 p.m., Monday, March 15.
Reporting by SUSAN YOUNG