Nicole Scherzinger always thought she was ugly.

The 31-year-old Pussycat Doll - who is currently working alone after the group decided to take a temporary break in order to pursue solo projects - said she only started to feel attractive once she joined the group in 2003.

She said: "Growing up, I was incredibly shy. And awkward. And lanky! I always thought I was an ugly duckling. I guess it worked out OK in the end. Ultimately though, true beauty shines from within.

"I know joining the group helped me to find out who I am - and I love the message that any woman can be strong, confident and sexy."

The 'Don't Cha' singer said dancing with the band - who have been criticised for their overly explicit moves - had helped her to feel sexy.

Nicole - who is dating motor racing ace Lewis Hamilton - added to Britain's Cosmopolitan magazine: "I consider myself sexy when I'm dancing with the Dolls. It brings out an inner strength, a bolder attitude and a fiery, fearless spirit.

"But away from the stage I can be a different person. I'm either shy or goofy, depending on my mood."