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“No girl looks good in a band uniform,” says Amy Jorgensen, her classmate at Bedford High School, “but Halle was gorgeous.” Berry recalls her teenage look differently: “My face was so full that to this day my husband thinks I had a nose job.” Plus, “I was always trying to straighten my hair.I haven’t had long hair in so long, and that’s why!“I think I’m a lot closer to him now than I ever was when he was alive.” Growing up, Berry says, she struggled to fit in.Most of the time, “I was just trying to be liked,” says the former class president, honor student, school newspaper editor and prom queen, allowing, “I was always trying to overcompensate for being different.” Even as a big-haired teen in the ’80s, Berry stood out.“She met my mother-in-law once on the , and Halle said, ‘Hi, Faye, how are you doing? It’s complete.”) “I’m not obsessive, like I have to have the best butt or the best abs, but I like the idea of feeling strong and healthy,” Berry says.

“Before she came into my life, I was about work, work, work. And we get to play.” Not that married life has been all fun and games.

“My mom always said, ‘Beauty is what you do.’ ” One thing she wasn’t able to do was reconcile with her father—who she says abused her mother—before his death.

(He had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease.) Long estranged from him, she spent years blaming her father’s abuse and absence for her own problems with men.

We’re grateful that we’re dealing with some heavy issues early, and hopefully we’ll get them behind us and move on.” Adds Benét, who got to know Berry after one of his concerts in 1997 and wed her in a beachside ceremony in Santa Barbara, Calif., before just two friends: “I’m a much better person because of her love.” Berry also praises the benefits of counseling. Going to therapy and working out our problems is a must.” Another marital imperative: a regular “date night.” “It can be at a restaurant, it can be in the bathtub, it can be by the pool, in the Jacuzzi,” Berry says. It’s just about connecting.” Connecting has been an ongoing theme in Berry’s relationships, going back to her difficult childhood in and around Cleveland.

The younger daughter of Judith, 63, a retired nurse who is white, and Jerome, an African-American hospital attendant who died in January, Berry and her sister Heidi were called “zebra” and “Oreo” by neighborhood kids.

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