Beautiful You

A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance


By Rosie Molinary

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A radical day-by-day guide to redefining beauty and creating lasting self-esteem

Every day, American women and girls are besieged by images and messages that suggest their beauty is inadequate, inflicting immeasurable harm upon their confidence and sense of wellbeing. In Beautiful You, author Rosie Molinary encourages women to feel wonderful about themselves — even when today’s media-saturated culture tells them not to.

Drawing on tools for heightened self-awareness, creativity, and mind-body connections, Beautiful You incorporates practical techniques into a 365-day action plan that empowers women to embrace a healthy self-image, shore up self-confidence, break undermining habits of self-criticism, and champion their own emotional and physical wellbeing.

Modern and meaningful, these doable, enjoyable daily actions encourage women and girls to manifest a healthy outlook on life, to live large, and to love themselves and others.


To the hijas and m'ijas of Circle de Luz,
because your beauty inspires and your brilliance illuminates.

At eight years old, my best friend, Jenny, and I conspired to get rid of our fat. It was 1981. We were entering the second grade. We barely watched television, so we had no real idea of media-generated ideals. And yet, we thought we were fat. Years later I would see pictures of us, as if for the first time, and realize that we were actually lean and willowy.
At eighteen, I arrived at college to find that I looked like no one else. My self-consciousness was amplified when a friend suggested that I try highlights on my black curls. In that moment, I internalized the idea that my hair wasn't right, that I wasn't right.
At twenty-four, I was a high school teacher, telling my students they were brilliant and smart and could do anything. Some days, despite my earnest efforts, I couldn't make them buy the truth I was selling. I packed healthy lunches every day for one of my soccer players who wouldn't feed herself. When another one of my athletes regularly broke into so much anger that no one could escape her derision, not even herself, I would sweep her into my arms and hold her, trying to calm her into believing in her own worth. When one of my mentees in a summer program said her boyfriend wanted sex, I reminded her that what she wanted was just as important. When the last day of school came, I called my students, one by one, to the front of the classroom while I played a song that reminded me of him or her—"Closer to Fine" by the Indigo Girls, "Pride" by U2, "Everything Is Everything" by Lauryn Hill, or "A Wink and a Smile" by Harry Connick Jr.—and a reverent silence fell over that space, my students basking in being acknowledged. Each would sit on a stool in the front of the room while I celebrated a trait I appreciated most about him or her—inquisitiveness, compassion, passion, wisdom, patience—and my students relished the fact that their brilliance was being recognized.
At thirty-four, I was having lunch with nine seventh-grade girls at a local middle school when one of the guidance counselors, a woman in her late fifties whom I knew and admired, walked in to say hello. It was school picture day, and each girl had taken great care to get ready that morning.
"Are you getting your picture taken?" one girl asked the counselor.
"I hate having my picture taken," she answered. "When I was in fourth grade, I was the tallest kid in school. When I went to pose for my school picture, the photographer, who was a man, screamed, 'We have a big one here!' I've hated being photographed ever since."
"Do you like your height now?" I asked.
For a moment she looked confused.
"I love my height," she said. "And I shouldn't mind having my picture taken anymore. I have given that man so much power over my life, and he's probably not even alive anymore."
I know what it is like to want to believe in yourself wholeheartedly only to have episodes in your life lead you to question your own beauty and radiance. I know what it is like to try to help someone galvanize her own power, realize her own brilliance. It is, what I most wish to offer—whether I am spending time with a little girl in my life, a dear friend, an acquaintance, or one of my students. And it is what is offered here, in Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance.
In this book, you will find down-to-earth advice on how you can realize your own brilliance every day. But the true value of the book does not come from what's written on its pages. It comes from doing the work, from journeying toward insight and action through the exercises and reflections. It is a tool kit for self-awareness, positive self-esteem, and a healthy body image. The magic of this book begins with your intention—your desire to tackle what is limiting you, and your decision to love yourself, be happy, and feel satisfied with your body.
A poor body image isn't usually at the root of a woman's negative feelings about herself. A poor self-concept and lack of confidence are often at the core of a negative body image. Having a negative self-image or a negative body image is like always having a gate-crashing critic watching the events of your life as they unfold. What I have found over time is that self-acceptance is what most dynamically changes our negative self-concept and body image. And you can only find self-acceptance through the hard but meaningful work of assessing where you are, seeing where you have been, and planning where you are going—while enhancing your life along the way.
This book will take you on a journey that encourages you to develop a clearer sense of yourself. Over time, once you have a clearer sense of self, self-confidence will become a habit. Confidence is born from proof, and proof of your worth comes when you have cultivated and embraced your whole self. A positive self-esteem comes with knowing your truth, your reality, and arriving at a self-mastery that allows for resilience, pro-activity, and brilliance. And while this book's journey might begin by taking you more deeply inward, in the end it will help you move beyond yourself and into the world, where acting on what you have to offer does so much more good than worrying about what you look like.
The secret to success with Beautiful You is completing its guided daily practices. Daily practices yield new patterns of thinking, and those patterns ultimately yield new habits that will renew your sense of self in a positive, dynamic, healthy way. This book quiets you and moves you to find clarity; it encourages you to develop your own insights through compassionate observation and careful execution. This is a book that will leave you unsettled at times, so that you can eventually become more settled in life; a book that challenges you at times, so that you can develop a fresh outlook. By giving you the opportunity to consider, observe, do, and be, this book will help you recognize what is really beautiful—you, as you are. You are being invited to begin a process that will yield self-knowledge and deliver self-mastery.
We can all grow, no matter our history. We can all recognize our brilliance. Recognizing beauty, as it turns out, is a choice. You can see it the way the world hands it to you, or you can see it the way you want to see it.

How to Use This Book
For some of you, this will be a first attempt at trying to understand and positively influence your self-concept. What Beautiful You offers to every reader are the tools to understand and overcome any dissatisfaction you might have with yourself, and to magnify what makes you brilliant. This book offers you the resources you'll need to form a better vision of yourself, a process for following through, and company for the journey. The supplies you will need for the journey are easy to acquire: A favorite pen and a personal journal, referred throughout the book as your Beautiful You journal, are essential.
There are a number of ways to use this book. I encourage you to use it in the way that makes the most sense for you. Some of you will begin on Day 1 and read the chapters in order, to Day 365. Others may check the Table of Contents and start by reading about specific topics that speak to them. You can work through the book alone or in a group. No matter how you enter it, the journey will be rich, and it will lead you to find something very important: yourself.
Feel free to begin by surveying the pages to get a sense of how the book progresses over the course of a year. Don't worry about spoiling the ending. This is a book that you do, not just read, so perusing it won't take away the surprise, joy, or revelations to come.
Each daily practice begins with a passage that may be part autobiographical, part informational, part inspirational, and ends with a suggested task for the day. I encourage you not to feel overwhelmed by the tasks. Many of them are short. Some are more fun than tedious. All of them are a gift to yourself and your world.
Choose a time each day to read the passage and plan for how or when you will do the exercise of the day. Some readers may find that it makes sense to read each passage with a morning cup of tea or coffee. Others may choose to read a passage each night. If the task involves a journal exercise or other reflection, you can do it right then. If the exercise requires you to take some sort of action, to step out in your world, you can save it for the next day.
Some passages and tasks will really appeal to you; others may turn you off. Resist the urge to turn away from the ones that seem daunting. Those are often the exercises you need most. There are some tasks that just won't be relevant to you, given where you are in your life. If that's the case, just move on. Finally, you will discover that some of these tasks—looking up when you are walking, eating mindfully, quieting your critic—can be done every day. Ultimately, each task is designed to be practiced at least once, but I hope you find that many of the tasks become part of your routine—that completing them that day is really only the beginning of your journey with them.
This book was written as a guide to an individual's journey, but by no means do you need to make the journey alone. In fact, doing it in partnership with someone else or in a group may even push you to engage more deeply in the process. If you'd like to do it in a dyad or group, here is some insight on how to facilitate the process.
First, how do you find your dyad or group? Consider the people you feel closest to. The greatest support and encouragement will come from those who believe in you. Keep the group to a reasonable size so that everyone will have the opportunity to participate.
Before you begin the exercises together you can each share your intention for engaging in the process. Also share your hesitations, worries, and hopes. Then, as a group or a partnership, discuss your shared goal. It can be more than encouraging one another on your journeys. Share your visions. Lay it all out on the table. Then consider some guidelines for the process. Your first guidelines might reflect how you wish to interact with each other as you share and encourage.
Here are a few guidelines that should be a part of your list.
Our brilliance shines most when we are in a place where we know that we are both accepted and safe. Our space and time together will be one that fosters both qualities.
Everything shared is held sacred and in confidence. Our journey is our individual story to tell. No one else should share someone else's story outside of the group without expressed permission.
Our feedback will always be honest, thoughtful, and supportive and will build on our strengths.
Our goal is always to grow and move forward. We will support one another in this process and push one another to recognize, celebrate, and offer her brilliance to the world.
You will also want to consider when and how you will come together. For some groups, it might make sense to have a monthly meet-up where you discuss the exercises that have had the most impact for you. It might also make sense to have a weekly check-in over email.
Mothers may choose to take this journey with their daughters. If you are completing Beautiful You with a teenage or young adult daughter, it might be helpful for you to read ahead every Sunday to see what is coming and to determine how you'd like to navigate the exercises and your sharing based on any familial history.
Helpful questions along the way for every dyad, cluster, and group to consider in their regular meetings include:
How are you doing?
What is challenging you about this process?
What is satisfying to you about this process?
How have you grown?
What have you learned?
What has changed?
What are you noticing?
What did you love doing?
What did you skip and why?
What are you anticipating?
What was an epiphany you had this month?
I wish I could promise you that your path on this journey will always be up a ladder, that you will climb past an issue and never revisit it again. But that is not the nature of our lives. Instead, our journeys are more cyclical. Like the lover who comes back at different times in our life, so will some of our issues. Our greatest hope is that when we see the old lover again, when the old issues resurface, we can approach them as the person we are today, not as the person we were the last time we dealt with them.
Here is what I want for each of us: the ability to experience the world as we see ourselves, not as how others see us or how we perceive we are seen; the ability to live now rather than someday. I want us to understand that a negative self-image is a beacon, calling us to explore what is really going on deep within. I want us to use that beacon to arrive at a place of understanding and clarity. I want each of us to break free from the idea that narrowly defined external beauty is everything, and instead embrace and see the beauty in our inner selves. By taking the Beautiful You journey, you alight on a path that will be good to you, that will allow you to settle into who you are, that will give you the tools you need to be your truest self.
There will be days when you want to turn away from this journey, when it will feel too long, too demanding, too difficult. The important things in life are hard that way; the tough things teach us who we are, the impossible things allow us to arrive at what matters. There is no quick fix to improving our sense of selves. Every day, you can find a story of someone who medicated herself with plastic surgery, weight loss programs, or new relationships in order to find happiness, only to find that she's not that happy with the very thing that she thought would cure her.
There is no quick fix to improving your self-concept. This book guides you through the slow, deliberate process of enhancing your life through your own personal empowerment. Give yourself the room and time and attention to grow your sense of self. However you feel about yourself, those feelings were not created in just one day—and addressing how you feel about yourself will also take more than a day, and more than several. Changing your self-image takes time, attention, discipline, and desire. And it gives us back so much more than that.
Please be aware that this book is no substitute for therapy or treatment if you are suffering from an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder. If you suspect that your problems may be clinical in nature, I encourage you to get the help you need from a trained professional as the first step in your journey.
Poor self-image is not just the province of the young. It affects women of all ages and is not limited to any socioeconomic situation, race, culture, or worldview. The way we feel about our bodies, our dissatisfaction with our bodies, doesn't exist in a vacuum. It bleeds out, affecting how we feel about ourselves and the life we are living.
Too often, we believe we will finally be content when our body changes in some way. Actually, we'll be content only when our mind changes, when we give ourselves permission and the tools to be content. The key to feeling better isn't looking better. It is feeling better about our lives and better understanding what our bodies really are—vehicles in which we can experience life. Our bodies are not life itself; they are objects of motion, not admiration.
If we stop the world's racket and engage deliberately in our lives, we change ourselves. Beautiful You provides the tools—vision, passion, purpose, resilience, productivity—for every woman who wants to see beauty in a way that is true to who she is and not in the way the world hands it to her.

The book that captivated my heart and mind as a child was Harriet the Spy. Harriet ignited the curiosity in me, as well as my inner writer. But Harriet actually ignited something else. She ignited the seeker and the discoverer in me, and those parts of my personality are, ultimately, what led me on my journey to find myself. Soon after reading about Harriet's many notebooks, I began keeping my own stream-of-consciousness journals filled with bad poetry, dramatic musings, and hyperbolic dreams. By the time I reached high school, journaling was my lifeline. My journals were where I confided what I was feeling, how I was dealing with things, what I was planning. I also found that my journals kept me honest. It was outside my character to write one thing and do another. So what I wrote, I did.
Through journaling, I had the opportunity to get to know myself at a relatively young age. Many people, especially teens, live on the surface, operating at breakneck speeds and never exploring the depths within them. We're too busy to listen to what is going on inside of us because we are manipulating, reacting, adjusting to the world outside of us. To really know my self, my stories, and my voice, I had to have silence, an entryway, a slowing down. Journaling provided me that and more.
With journaling, you see the patterns of your life; you claim—or reclaim—who you really are; you coach yourself into becoming the someone you imagined; you arrive at a sense of balance, of yourself, of wholeness. You can discover productive patterns and nonproductive patterns in your life, and you can choose to embrace the ones that move you forward. A significant part of the Beautiful You experience will be accomplished through journaling. Already, you have purchased a Beautiful You journal. You will use it for exercises recommended in each daily practice, but I also encourage you to use it for your own lists, confessional laments, stream-of-consciousness ideas, and dreams. There is no right way to journal. There is only this: the desire to record what you think and feel so that you can become better acquainted with yourself, so that you are better in touch with your own brilliance. The most important thing is that you give yourself time and room to write—and thus, to get to know yourself and grow in the coming year.
Today Open your Beautiful You journal and consider these questions. What are your hopes—personally and for the world—with regard to body image and beauty perception? How can you begin to live your hopes today? Thinking about what you want most for yourself and for the world allows you to act on that information.

Pledge Allegiance to Yourself
Deciding to be a body champion is the first step on your journey to developing and boosting your self esteem and body image. Thinking through the nuances of such a commitment can help your journey be successful.
Today Review and sign this Body Warrior Pledge. In your Beautiful You journal, make a note of which statement will take the most determination for you to embrace, why, and how you plan on doing it.
The Body Warrior Pledge Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors of my love and respect for my self and soul, I pledge:
• To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I have been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.
• To understand that my body is an opportunity not a scapegoat.
• To be the primary source of my confidence. I will not rely on others to define my worth.
• To let envy dissipate and allow admiration to be a source of compassion by offering compliments to others.
• To gently but firmly stand up for myself when someone says something harmful.
• To change the inner monologue in my head to one that sees possibility not problems, potential not shortcomings, blessings not imperfections.
• To give my body the things that it needs to do its work well: plenty of water, ample movement, stretches, rest, and good nutrition, and to limit or eliminate the things that do not nurture my body.
• To see exercise as a way to improve my internal health and strength instead of a way to fight or control my body.
• To understand that my weight is not good or bad. It is just a number, and I am only good.
• To love my body and myself today. I do not have to weigh ten pounds less, have longer hair, or have my degree in my hand to have worth. I have worth just as I am, and I embrace that power.
• To recognize my body's strengths.
• To no longer put off the things that I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a different body.
• To understand that a body, just like a personality, is like a fingerprint: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.

Consider How You Feel About Yourself
This Beautiful You journey is meant to help you enhance your self-awareness while boosting your self-esteem and sense of body satisfaction. To begin, it is important to know and understand where you have been with regard to these areas, how you got there, and where you would like to go.
Today In your Beautiful You journal, answer these questions. How do you feel about yourself? Why is that the case? What will a healthy sense of self and a healthy life give to you?

Consider How Body Image Has Impacted Your Life
We can become so embroiled in our personal assessments that we no longer notice the way our sense of self affects our daily life. Yet it often does. Understanding your body image history can be extremely helpful in creating a new landscape for yourself and your future.
Today In your Beautiful You journal, answer these questions completely. How has body image impacted your daily life and outlook? What have been your challenges and triumphs with body image over time? What have you denied and allowed yourself because of your perception of your appearance? How has your personality changed because of your sense of your appearance? What have you gained or lost because of your body image?

Consider Your Vision
It is impossible to live the life we want most if we haven't taken time to imagine it. By knowing what it is we want and where we are today in relation to our dreams, we can put ourselves in the position to pursue our possibilities.
Today In your Beautiful You journal, answer these questions. What is your vision for yourself? What do you wish or want for yourself? How is that different from who you are or where you are today? What do you think would make you feel more confident?

Ditch the Fat Chat
We've all been there. A girlfriend complains about her thighs, and we just can't help but bring up our stomach. Then it becomes a body-hatred free-for-all. A study published in the June 2007 issue of Body Image: An International Journal of Research revealed that if a woman criticizes herself, those around her tend to add their own negative self-impressions to the conversation—even if they had just described their body image as "positive" or "high." Sure, there are all sorts of reasons that a woman might do this—to build camaraderie, to be polite—but because those statements might end up having a significant impact on one's self-perception, why not build camaraderie in other ways and stop the personal attacks?
Today When a woman criticizes herself in front of you, don't join in. Instead, celebrate what you love about her or tell her just how wrong she is. When you are inclined to begin your own body-bashing, stop yourself. We do ourselves and others a disservice when we allow these critiques to carry on.

Name Your Inner Critic
Too many of us have that voice inside our head that just nags, nags, nags us about everything. She tells us that we aren't skinny enough, that our hair is bad, that our style sucks, that we are not of value. She exhausts us and extinguishes us and deserves to be put in her place.
Today Give that voice a name—Sylvia, for example, or Agnes. And when she pipes up today, put her in her place.
"Agnes, I am not listening to you."
"Sylvia, you are so negative."
And then spin her criticism on its head.
"Agnes, it doesn't matter if I am skinny in your eyes. It matters whether or not I am healthy in mine."
"Sylvia, my hair looks perfectly fine."
Calling out your inner critic and changing her direction is a vital step in moving from negative self-image to positive.


  • "Rosie Molinary's compassion pulses on every page, guiding readers through action-oriented approaches to self-acceptance with skill, grace, and empathy. Self-help has never been presented with a better chemistry of expertise and love. Readers wise enough to place their trust in her and engage with this book will be richly rewarded."—Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives
  • "Women are sick of the same tired, stale body image advice. . . . we need real, functional tips that can help us break out of a bad body image day. Rosie Molinary answers our call in Beautiful You: Her ideas are inspired, creative, and totally doable, with many carrying a trickle-down effect to the younger generation of girls. With the first day of reading it, my copy was thoroughly dog-eared."—Leslie Goldman, author of Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image, and Re-imagining the "Perfect" Body
  • "Beautiful You is your guide to overcoming burdensome feelings and enjoying life in new ways . . . You may have shrugged it off when your mother, friend or partner assured you that you were beautiful, but you'll become a believer when Rosie tells you. In fact, you'll start telling yourself the same thing."—Michelle Icard, author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience The Middle School Years
  • "Exactly what the beauty conversation needs. With its thought-provoking content, including helpful personal essays and abundant opportunities for self-reflection, this book lovingly urges readers to embrace themselves fully in order to live a more empowered life. The world needs more books (and authors) like this!"—Jess Weiner, CEO of Talk to Jess
  • "A supportive guide filled with wisdom and practical tips for taking compassionate care of our bodies and ourselves . . . It empowers us to listen to ourselves, to ask for what we need, to pursue our dreams, to surround ourselves with kind people, to build a meaningful life, whatever that looks like for us. Because we are worthy. Inherently worthy. I can't imagine a more powerful or vital message."—Margarita Tartakovsky,
  • "Molinary has done a fabulous job of offering practical and doable advice to help women see--and appreciate--themselves in a whole new way, and to realize that a healthy body image is about so much more than what we think we see in the mirror. I'm giving this book my ultimate seal of approval."—Dara Chadwick, author of You'd Be So Pretty If: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies--Even When We Don't Love Our Own

On Sale
Oct 4, 2016
Page Count
440 pages
Seal Press

Rosie Molinary

About the Author

Rosie Molinary is an author, freelance writer, teacher, and editor. Her award-winning poetry and nonfiction have been published in various literary magazines and books, including The Circle, Anthology, Caketrain, Snake Nation Press, Jeopardy, Coloring Book, Waking Up American, and Wishing You Well. Her articles have appeared online and in magazines, including Latina, Teen Vogue, Skirt!, Health, Women’s Health, Ms., and She is the author of Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina. Rosie teaches a body image seminar in the Gender Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and travels the country to teach body image, self-awareness, creativity, journaling, social justice, and writing workshops.

In addition to holding a degree in African-American studies from Davidson College and an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College, Rosie is a certified high school social studies teacher. She lives in Davidson, North Carolina.

Learn more about this author