"I always thought it was irresponsible of the media to portray me as someone with an eating disorder, because if some girls look up to me and think that's what you have to do to look like me, it's a horrifying concept," she adds. "I listened to the criticism a little too much -- and this was pre-social media. It's even crazier to think what women have to deal with now."
Pompeo also says she's not a fan of Botox or plastic surgery, and hasn't undergone either of the two. The mother of two shares that she's gotten some perspective on her physical appearance with age.
"I think when you're in your '20s and '30s, you're super obsessed with your looks because you don't have any other wisdom," she says. "I have the wisdom to know that growing old is a privilege that not everyone is afforded. If my physical beauty is the only thing that leaves me and my health and my family stay, then that is what's really important to me."
Still, Pompeo admits her age is why she's stayed on Grey's Anatomy for so long. Pompeo has starred on the ABC hit for all 12 seasons of the show, which started more than a decade ago in 2005. In June, she signed a new deal that will keep her as the main lead on Grey's Anatomy for its upcoming 13th season.
"My decision to stay on Grey's was based solely on age," she acknowledges to the magazine. "At 33 [when she started], I was wise enough to know my clock was already ticking in Hollywood."
"[If I was younger] I probably would have done my time, then gone out to search for other things," she muses. "[But I] was definitely aware of how challenging it would be to find other roles in my late 30s and early 40s."
Of course, she is more than happy with her decision. Pompeo -- one of TV's highest-paid actresses -- earns more than $300,000 per episode, according to Deadline.
"I thought, 'Why would I leave something that is super successful and pays me great to search the landscape?'" she explains. "I decided that I would stay on Grey's and be grateful and try to ride it out for as long as I could. And I am very happy that I made the decision to stay. It's only gotten better with time."
Though it can definitely be brutal watching herself age through the years on the show.
"Watching myself age on TV is miserable. To be honest, it’s the toughest part of my job," she admits. "But as uncomfortable as watching myself age is, I don't think focusing on physical beauty is necessarily the best thing for your mind. It’s a natural thing that we all do, but I don't think it’s the healthiest thing. The older you get, the more you realize life isn't about your looks."