Most juniors in high school only worry about their reputation among their peers, but 16-year-old Kristin Cavallari's concerns extended far beyond her California classmates. In 2004, Cavallari and several others appeared on the MTV reality show "Laguna Beach," which followed their privileged and tangled lives both inside and outside of Laguna Beach High School. As the show grew in popularity, so did Cavallari's image as the "bad girl," thanks to scenes that involved frequent fights with her then-boyfriend and arguments with fellow star Lauren Conrad.
Now 27 and married with two children, Cavallari looks back on her "Laguna Beach" experience as an extremely difficult time in her life -- something she never expected the day MTV showed up at her school looking for a brand new set of reality stars.
"I was a junior in high school and MTV showed up and did open casting," Cavallari tells "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" in the above video. "You grab this 20-page packet and then they would take your Polaroid, and from there, they did on-camera interviews. They sort of narrowed it down to these eight people."
Those eight people were more like acquaintances than close friends, but all seemed eager to begin filming. "We had no idea what we were doing," Cavallari says. "We were just going along with whatever MTV was telling us to do."
During and after it aired, "Laguna Beach" was criticized for appearing more like a scripted series than a reality show, accused of coaching lines, shooting retakes and manufacturing situations. Particularly on that last issue, Cavallari hasn't disagreed.
"I felt very, very used and manipulated," she admits.
She cites one of the show's major storylines, Cavallari's love triangle with her boyfriend and Conrad, as an example. "The producers would have [my boyfriend] go and take out Lauren Conrad, take her to dinner bring her flowers, which never would've happened if it wasn't for the show, for MTV," she says.
This frustration soon manifested in her behavior in front of the cameras. "Being 16, 17 in high school, not knowing really how to handle your emotions or even realizing what's going on, I put up a wall. I put up a really tough exterior because I felt like they were really trying to take advantage of me," Cavallari says.
Her emotions turned to shock when she saw the results of all that filming. "When I saw it air and saw the way that they represented me, I was really, really upset," she says. "I cried for hours and hours after I saw the first episode."
It's been more than a decade since that episode aired, but Cavallari still believes her time on "Laguna Beach" can teach a valuable lesson to anyone interested in following a similar path.
"I still to this day think that you should be 18 to do a reality show!" she says. "Only because of my experience."