If it seems strange to hear an actress refer to herself with Hollywood's dirtiest three-letter word, well, consider it Alley's supreme act of rebellion. The woman who rose to fame on Cheers in the late '80s, trading on her bedroom eyes and bombshell body, is so comfortable with her current weight of 203 lbs. that in July she announced plans for a buzzed-about new cable series called Fat Actress – a comedy-reality show airing on Showtime next year and starring Alley in the title role. Now, after several years of keeping quiet while the tabloids obsessively chronicled her weight, the outspoken Alley is finally ready to set the record straight in an interview with PEOPLE. "The weird thing is, I don't like the way I look – and I like who I am," says the 53-year-old actress, who has devoted much of the past four years to raising her kids Lillie, 10, and William True, 11. "I like who I am better than I've ever liked myself."
Sitting barefoot at her kitchen table and smoking cigarettes (a habit she only recently resumed), Alley appears far slimmer than the 300 lbs. frequently cited in the media: "A gross exaggeration," says the 5'8" star. Alley says that paparazzi shoot her from lower angles to make her look bigger and contends that some photos have been doctored. "I'm forever walking around in grocery stores and people go, 'You don't look that fat! How did you lose that weight so fast?'" she says. "I haven't lost a pound."