The Baywatch star, who recently released her Netflix documentary and memoir about her life, said that modelling for Playboy was her “first feeling of freedom” from shyness.
In a recent interview with ET Canada, Anderson, 55, said that as a child, she “became painfully shy, and the shyness was something that was so debilitating”.
“When I was little, I would wear a hat over my head and pull the hole closed, so I could only see out this much,” she recalled.
“I hated the way I looked, I hated everything. I was so shy and I always thought everybody was pretty, and I just didn’t have that confidence or self-confidence.”
She was approached by Playboy “a few times” while living in Vancouver, but turned down the opportunities.
“Finally, I was in a situation and thought, ‘Why not? Let me try this’. Then I got to [Los Angeles] and I was horrified,” Anderson said, remembering how she was overcome with adrenaline and fear.
“Then I did my first photoshoot with Playboy… it was the first flash when I opened my eyes and it felt like I was falling off a cliff.
“It really felt like I was just… allowing, instead of trying to control. And it was my first feeling of freedom. Then I was off to the races,” she continued.
Anderson released her memoir, Love, Pamela, on 31 January. She described it as the chronicles of “just one girl’s messy life” and said it was a “celebration of imperfections”.
On the same day, her Netflix documentary Pamela, a Love Story began streaming. In both her memoir and documentary, she speaks candidly about her rise to fame as a Playboy model, her leaked sex tape with then-husband Tommy Lee, and how her life changed following that.
The Independent’s Jessie Thompson gave the documentary four out of five stars in her review and wrote that Anderson “comes across as a sympathetic woman who is far more complex than many would give her credit for”.
Earlier this year, the actor revealed that she grew up with insecurities around her body image and said she did not want to look at herself in the mirror.
She told People: “I never thought I was pretty. I always thought I was athletic and funny. It kind of catered to my insecurities and probably because of my early sexualisation and my shame about it all, I didn’t want to feel that way. I didn’t like that I had any kind of qualities that were attracting the wrong kind of attention.”
Anderson reflected on being molested by a female babysitter when she was a child and claimed she “threatened” her to keep it a secret from other adults.
She explained that it has taken her decades to process what happened, adding: “I do feel like I’ve definitely figured out who I’m not over a lifetime and now I’m remembering who I am. And who that little girl was before anything happened to her.”