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.





I was captivated by Harriet the Spy as a child. Harriet inspired my curiosity and inner writer. She ignited the seeker and realizer 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.

Through journaling, I got to know myself. Too often, we live on the surface, operating at breakneck speeds and never exploring the depths within us. We’re too busy to listen to what is going on inside of us because we are manipulating, reacting, and adjusting to the world outside of us. To really know myself, my stories, and my voice, I had to have silence, an entryway, a slowing down. Journaling provided that for me, 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 and nonproductive patterns in your life, and you can choose to embrace what moves you forward. A significant part of the Beautiful You experience will be accomplished through journaling. You have hopefully already purchased your Beautiful You journal. You will use it for exercises recommended in each daily practice, but I encourage you to also 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: recording 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 self-acceptance? How can you begin to live your hopes today?




Deciding to be a body champion is the first step on your journey to develop and boost your self-acceptance. Thinking through the nuances of such a commitment can help your journey be successful.

THE BODY WARRIOR PLEDGE: Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors for 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 or does something harmful.
  • To change my inner monologue to one that sees possibility not problems, potential not shortcomings, and 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 is like a fingerprint: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.

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.




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?




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?




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?




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.




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.




When I was touring for my previous book, Hijas Americanas: Beauty, Body Image, and Growing Up Latina, I had the pleasure of visiting Amherst, Massachusetts, for several days to speak at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, and Mount Holyoke College. One of the things that I often talk about is the need to modify our own language—what we project about ourselves—and the language of others. When someone says she hates her nose, instead of saying “I hate my cellulite” in order to feel companionship with that person, say, “I can’t imagine why you would hate your nose, and you have a smile that lights up the world” (or whatever else might be the case).

After my talk at Amherst College, I met some roommates who told me about a jar they keep in their suite. Anyone who says anything bad about herself has to deposit some cash into the jar. When it adds up to enough for a quality loaf of bread, they hit the bakery. What a novel way to break your self-deprecation habit and to use the times you are mean to yourself as an opportunity to reinvest in yourself. As individuals, we shouldn’t normalize our body hatred, letting unkind words pass our lips without a thought. We should catch and correct ourselves because our whole lives are affected by how we think and speak about our bodies.

TODAY You’ve been ditching the fat chat for a few days. Now let’s take it a step further. Find a bowl, vase, or piggy bank to catch your quarters when you knock yourself, and watch your self-awareness soar and your habits change. We can all change our language—and our minds.




Our words aren’t just empty. They are a road map to how we are feeling about ourselves. If we make observations about our language, we can gather essential information that will help us be and do better.

TODAY As you begin to make Self-Apprecation Jar deposits for things you no longer want to be saying, take note of your words. What is it you say about yourself? Why do you say it? What are your emotions when you say it? Write it down in your Beautiful You journal, then consider what you are really saying. If “I am fat” is always coming to your lips, think those words through until you are holding onto some truth. Are you unhappy with your weight because you would like to be more healthy—perhaps able to walk up stairs without losing your breath or get off a certain type of medication—or are you unhappy with your weight because it doesn’t meet a Hollywood standard of beauty? By really examining the motivation behind your words, you can see the truth and act accordingly.




I teach a seminar on body image at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In the class, the very first assignment my students face is writing a body image autobiography. I explain to my students that to better interpret, experience, and study how body image is played out in our culture, we must understand some of our own paradigms. Then I ask them to answer twenty questions as honestly as they can, without filtering their thoughts. One part of the exercise looks at their positive memories and what they appreciate about themselves.

TODAY Answer these questions in your Beautiful You journal. What do you appreciate most about yourself? What are you most confident about? What is the first positive memory you have of yourself? Was anyone there to witness that moment? If so, who was there and how did he, she, or they react?




Growing up, there were times when I struggled with what my looks and ethnicity meant because I was overwhelmed by how other people interpreted them. I was waiting to always be a Latina or always a gringa, to always be pretty or always be plain, to be exotic or ignored, to be exciting or unappealing. I wanted a constant but never found it. Sadly, I was waiting for external consistency to garner my own confidence.

Finally, in my twenties, I realized it didn’t matter if other people interpreted me in a way that wasn’t true. What mattered was what I knew to be true. My self-acceptance would teach others how to interpret me. The most important issue was not how other people defined what they saw, but how I defined what I felt.

So much of our personal dissatisfaction can stem from our assumption that we are our looks—that how our bodies compare to mainstream beauty standards matters. But our looks (and, in this way, our bodies) don’t matter. Our bodies are simply vessels that take us through life, that allow us to experience this world. How our body looks is not who we are. We are a union of our soul and mind. Our bodies carry our truth around, they are the lenses through which we experience the world, but they are not us. Our true selves are rooted within our bodies.

TODAY Embrace the notion that you are not your looks; that your value is greater than how you look. If you are at war with your body because you believe it should look different in order to fit some mainstream beauty standard, life will not be fulfilling. This is not to say you shouldn’t care for your body and keep it in good operating order. In fact, you have a responsibility to do that. But if your project in life is to alter your looks, you are neglecting your purpose. In your Beautiful You journal, without mentioning your looks at all, explore what you really offer this world.




So, if we are not our bodies, then what in the world are we so dissatisfied with? That’s just it. Feelings of body hatred, dissatisfaction, and preoccupation are not just about our bodies. It is one thing to wish that we had it in our genes to be a smidge taller. It’s another thing to be so consumed by our lack of height that we live our lives differently. In fact, if we find ourselves consumed with body hatred, dissatisfaction, and preoccupation, our issue is likely not about our bodies at all. It’s about something else that has kept us from maintaining perspective about our perceived imperfections.

TODAY In your Beautiful You journal, consider that your dissatisfaction is not about your body. When you accept that thought, what comes to mind? What is your dissatisfaction really about? What is it trying to tell you? What part of your life could you address to foster more overall contentment?




When I was doing research for Hijas Americanas, I asked every person I interviewed to define beautiful. Their answers never relied on physical appearance. Instead, they talked about confidence, compassion, and self-awareness. Several questions later, I asked each person if she considered herself beautiful. “Absolutely not,” they always answered. At this point, I had been talking to each woman about fairly personal information for more than an hour. I didn’t know her, necessarily, but I had been honored with intimate details about her life and her sense of self, and I could absolutely discern whether she matched her own definition of beautiful. And when she did, I would call her on it. Always gently, I would say I found it interesting that she defined beauty in this particular way and that, over the course of the interview, I had seen those traits exhibited by her in these distinct ways. And yet, I’d continue, I was struck that while she was willing to label other people in her life beautiful, she wasn’t willing to judge herself on those same standards and give herself that same grace. Those moments were always my favorite ones in the interviews, and I often had women email me afterwards to comment on and thank me for that specific part of our conversation.

TODAY In your Beautiful You journal, write down what the word beautiful means to you. When are you compelled to use that word to describe a person? What has informed your definition? Knowing and owning our personal definitions of beauty is an essential step in celebrating one’s own brilliance.




There’s a person I see every couple months who often asks me the same question: “Have you lost weight?” What I have noticed is that the question always comes on the days she sees me in regular-life clothes instead of workout clothes. I look more polished on those days, and looking more polished, it turns out, means looking like I’ve lost weight. Except I never have lost weight, and it makes the conversation awkward. Hanging in the air is the notion that she thought I needed to lose weight and would approve of anything I had lost. So I say no, and she continues to insist that surely I have. If I were more insecure about my weight, I’d carry it with me for awhile. Instead, I just use it as a reminder that the question “Have you lost weight?” creates a lose-lose situation for both parties involved.

TODAY Make a commitment to banish “Have you lost weight?” from your vocabulary. Our weight shouldn’t be up for grabs in conversation—as either question or commentary. When you ask someone, out of the blue, “Have you lost weight?” you leave her wondering what you think of her and why. It’s one thing if your sister reveals to you that she wants to get healthier and hopes that you’ll help her on her journey. But it’s another thing entirely to ask such a loaded question of someone whose goals, insecurities, needs, and medical issues you know nothing about. If what you are thinking is really “You look great!” then just say that, with no qualifiers attached. By banishing weight-loss comments from your vocabulary, you keep yourself from perpetuating the notion that someone’s weight and body size are fair game for discussion and up for both grabs and judgment.




I magine a line: a continuum from self-hate to self-love, with self-hate being the furthest point to the left and self-love being the furthest point to the right. I like to think of self-acceptance as neatly residing between them—a position of neutrality about the self—a place where one understands that she has worth and power and dignity simply because she exists. Worth does not need to be earned. It doesn’t have to be proven. It just is.

For some people, the concept of self-love is terribly uncomfortable for a litany of reasons: upbringing, faith, culture, ideas around language, etc. What they imagine it to be makes them self-conscious. So self-love feels like an inauthentic (to themselves) ideal destination and, thus, they avoid it, choosing a relationship with the self that looks like the opposite of self-love, lest anyone think they are self-impressed or arrogant or anything else.

Let me be clear that I do not think that practicing and embracing self-love is being self-impressed or arrogant. Sometimes semantics can keep us away from a practice that might be good for us. Embracing self-acceptance can be a more accessible way to build a positive, healthy relationship with ourselves.

Imagine self-acceptance as a position of neutrality about yourself, rooted in your decision not to have an adversarial relationship with yourself. Your worth doesn’t have to be earned. You aren’t bad, ruined, imperfect. There is nothing fundamentally wrong about you. In fact, you are fundamentally right because you exist; because you, just like every other person, were put here on purpose. Worth, you see, is your birthright just as it is the birthright of everyone else. Ultimately, you chose to recognize your humanity just as you recognize and respect the humanity of others.

TODAY In your Beautiful You journal, consider what self-acceptance would give you if you decided to embrace the practice in your life. How would your life be different? In what ways do you need to see the world as more abundant? How do you begin today?




Choosing to be self-accepting means you choose to no longer shame yourself, to no longer label yourself, to no longer condemn yourself. Suddenly, the bounced check doesn’t mean you are irresponsible. The forgotten lunch date doesn’t mean you are an idiot. The limited range of motion in your shoulder doesn’t mean your body sucks. The thirty minutes you spent napping on the couch when you meant to fold laundry doesn’t mean you are lazy.

When you are self-accepting, you no longer embrace the opportunity to judge yourself, as we have been practicing for the last week. Your energy shifts and, instead, you focus on each experience giving you information.

Everything becomes, simply, information. The bounced check might show you that your money management system doesn’t work for you or that the week was incredibly busy and kept you from being able to be on top of the details. The forgotten lunch date may be revealing how consumed you are right now with the care of your sick mother. The limited range of motion in your shoulder might be reminding you of just how much you have carried your children through their body and heart aches. That nap allowed you to give yourself just a small bit of care in the midst of a busy time.



  • "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
Dec 20, 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.

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