Never Merely Pretty

Quick note: If I had to choose one post for my readers to read, it would be this one. I’ve been looking forward to putting this up on Apple of My Eye for a long time. Meet Kelty, my best friend and one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to keeping a positive body image. She is the most caring, thoughtful, and loving person I know and has a lot of wisdom to share. Listen to her words. Take them to heart. 


Hi everyone! My name is Kelty, and I’m Christine’s roommate/soulmate/dance partner/partner in crime. I’m a second year Feminist Studies and English major, and a women’s rights and LGBTQ activist.

Something that comes up a lot in my field of study, as well as in conversations with friends almost daily, is body image. I tend to be asked about body image a lot; among my friends I’m known for my own body confidence and positivity, and I’m constantly encouraging others to also “practice radical self love.” Of course, that isn’t to say that I never have a bad body day, or that I always feel fantastic about how I look. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that profits from us hating ourselves. Learning to love yourself is not just a journey- it’s a battle. However, throughout my (barely) twenty years of life, I have figured out some tricks and tips that have really helped me with my battle. Every person is different, but I think a lot of us tend to do the same things to ourselves. So here are some weapons I’ve used against self hate, I hope you can use them too!

P.S. These are mostly for women. I know men can have a hard time with self esteem too, but women are told every single day that our worth is based on our looks, so those are the people I’m addressing today.


1. For the love of all that is holy on this earth, stop comparing yourself to other women. I have days where I have a hard time following my own rules, but I am very proud to say that I have gotten to a place where I almost never compare myself to other girls anymore. But it’s so easy to, right? To measure every feature on a beautiful girl and decide that since you do not fit those measurements, you must not be as beautiful, or as sexy, or as important. Eradicate this way of thinking. Here’s the thing. You don’t look like her. You just don’t, and you never will. You look how you look, and unless you want to invest a pretty penny in plastic surgery, that isn’t going to change. The sooner you accept that, the better. In fact, don’t just accept it, embrace it. I have fat thighs and a hourglass figure that I got from my mom, and a round face and bright eyes from my dad, and the biggest ass you’ve ever seen from both of them. My ass is a family heirloom. I will never be thin and tall! I was built to be short and sturdy, and that is a fate I cannot escape. Everything about me is built from generations of curvy, pale people who share my name. Your big feet carry you forward, your spotty skin feels warmth from the sun, your stretchmarks record your beautiful growth, your dark skin should never be made to feel that it needs lightening cream or shade from the sun. You don’t look like other girls. You just don’t. Accept it. Embrace it. Love it.


2. Get naked. Women tend to have this fear of our own bodies. We bleed and leak and smell and gather fat in places that make us lumpy and uneven and asymmetrical. And for some reason, this freaks us out. The more time you spend looking at your naked body, the better. It’s hard to love something you never let yourself see. Take time every single day to be naked and don’t shy away from mirrors.  Personally, I like to sleep naked every night, because there’s actually nothing better than waking up all warm with soft covers on your skin.Sometimes it’s hard if you don’t have a fantastic roommate like Christine who doesn’t care at all if I wander around naked. I got lucky on that one. When you’re alone, take some time to actually look at your body, look at the parts of you that you try to cover every day, look at the parts of you you hate when other people touch. Don’t be scared to touch yourself everywhere and anywhere. Touch yourself in ways that feel good! I cannot emphasize enough: your body is yours and yours alone. You should be the number one authority of what it likes, what it needs, and what it wants. I know that my body likes strawberry ice cream and having my hips squeezed. What does your body like?

3. This is very important and should be repeated several times a day, especially when you’re naked. Tell yourself how much you like yourself. Tell yourself how much you like your body, how much you like your face, how much you like your laugh, and your brain, and your little quirks. This can be really hard, especially when one of those days come along where there is not a single thing about yourself that you want to praise. Here’s the secret. You’ve got to do it anyway! If you don’t actually feel this way, lie to yourself. It’s okay, I give you full permission to lie about this. It’s the classic “fake it til you make it.” If you get into the habit of saying loving things to yourself, it will become exactly that: a habit.  It’s behavioral therapy. Condition yourself to say beautiful things to yourself and to stop saying negative things. Trust me, this really works. Just practicing telling myself good things has gotten me to a place where I naturally think to myself “I’m so cute!” at least twice a day while looking at myself. Don’t be afraid to shower yourself with compliments, there are literally zero consequences to this. There are no repercussions to feeling good about yourself.

Let me repeat that: There are no repercussions to feeling good about yourself!

Here’s the thing about being women in our society. Every day, we have a million messages thrown at us telling us that how we look is the most important thing about us. That it doesn’t matter if you’re smart, it doesn’t matter if you’re driven, or funny, or talented, or kind, or inspiring, if you don’t fit our standards for beauty. I’m going to challenge you, if you’re willing. I challenge you to question every assumption you make about your body and the bodies of others. Think about the fact that every opinion you have about appearances is shaped by companies trying to sell you things, shaped by messages sold to us, shaped by the parts of our culture that are still stuck in sexism, racism, and classism. And forget everything you’ve been taught about what makes a body “good” or “bad.” It’s your body, and you only have one. I challenge you to love every inch of it. 

“This is about my own someday daughter, already stung, stained, with insecurity, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty?” Will I be pretty? I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick, and answer, “No. The word ‘pretty’ is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained by five letters. You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely ‘pretty.'”
Here are a couple of links Kelty wants to share, they’re powerful and worthy of watching.

To my readers, please, if you have the time, take a moment to share Kelty’s words. I think all young women  could gain a lot from this post. Comments and thoughts, as always, are appreciated! 

Never Merely Pretty. An empowering post that ALL women, young and old, should read.

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  1. says

    Ahhhh I love this. I especially loved…”you will be more than pretty.” Why is pretty so important, and what is pretty anyways? We are all “pretty” and we all have unique features about ourselves passed down from our parents. We need to learn to embrace those things and realize that we can’t all look like models, and that’s ok!
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  2. says

    I so, so love this!! I think as women brought up in this culture, it’s so hard to NOT think about how you’re “supposed” to look. After all, we see images of tall, thin women on almost every media campaign, from Tide to Go to Maybelline. We need to think about and realize that we are all made special and to be our own person! Beautiful post <3
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  3. says

    Kelty, this is amazing and something every single woman needs to read. Self-love is such a tough thing to work out if we never feel we fit in with society’s idea of beauty. When actually not (!) fitting in is what makes us special and stand out. I’m still working on accepting myself the way I am every day but it’s worth trying. Thank you so much for an awesome post!
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  4. says

    The world would be a better place if there were more Keltys in it. Beautiful post, and absolutely beautiful message. I think that if women spent more time focusing on appreciating their bodies rather than trying to change them, we’d all be better off. Happiness doesn’t come with looking a certain way… It comes with realizing what truly matters in life, and that has nothing to do with numbers or looks.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. NEDA: i had no idea i had a problem… .My Profile
  5. says

    I can’t even describe how perfect, spot on, and wonderful this post is. Kelty, you go girl! Why can’t all women have your views? It’s terrible how the main thing we focus on is how our bodies look. Shouldn’t we focus on all eh amazing things it can do like running a marathon or carrying a BABY? Definitely sharing this. :)
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  6. says

    Being a recovering anorexic, these words filed my eyes to the brim with tears. Every word you have written is pure therapy to me. Thank you Kelly. & thank you Christine for sharing this powerful essay.
  7. says

    Love it and Love her! What a great message and one that I wish more girls/women would take to heart. I never put much thought into it until my little sister(who is literally the most beautiful person I know) came home from elementary school one day in tears over some bully calling her ugly….yea, I had some choice words for them. Ever since then I’ve done everything I can to help her build a positive self-image and self-love….Great post!!
    Kels @ Blonder Side of Life recently posted…Miles on Miles on MilesMy Profile
  8. says

    Girl, these are some AWESOME tips. While I agree with all of them, I can say that personally I am not quite in that spot to be able to fulfill them, but they are wonderful to keep in mind! I think if I stood in front of my mirror naked it would end up in a comparison game [unless my husband was home, then Im sure he’d tackle me ;)] but like with everything, my recovery has its ups and downs. There are days when that challenge wouldn’t feel like a challenge at all. The victory to me is to keep trying :)
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  9. says

    Great article! I couldn’t agree more. A few years ago I realized I could never get in the sort of “shape” I thought I wanted to be in until I started to accept myself for who I was. I will say once I got some confidence the relationship between my husband and I completely changed. Men love a confident woman and I was shocked to learn about how bad it made HIM feel when I was constantly down on myself! So, accepting yourself affects those around you, not just you.
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  10. says

    This was so beautiful! Thank you, Christine, for reminding me to go back and finish reading this. It is something that I could read over and over and over, every single day! It’s things like this that I need to read and remind myself of, and surround myself with. Kelty sounds like such an amazing person and such a positive influence in the lives of all girls and women that know her. What a strong, confident, beautiful person. I love every single thing about this.
    elise @ little miss fit recently posted…Learn to love yourselfMy Profile