Dear Molly, How do you feel beautiful when you barely feel pretty?

Some days I feel really special and beautiful and other days I barely want to look at myself because I don’t feel pretty. I guess what I’m asking is, how can you feel beautiful when you barely feel pretty? How can you change your thinking like that?


Feeling beautiful and feeling pretty are not mutually exclusive and (unfortunately) not mutually inclusive either. You might feel one, the other, both, or neither.

Feeling beautiful is internal, it’s the most important feeling to cherish, nurture, and value. Beauty may show up on your face in a glow, in your body in the confidence to walk tall, but it is not dependent on the external. Feeling beautiful comes from internal thoughts, how you treat others, how you maintain boundaries, how you love, how you accept love. Feeling pretty is a fleeting evaluation of your external appearance. It’s a special feeling but does not contribute to your worth as a person. Being “pretty” is not nearly as important as being “beautiful”.

Feeling beautiful doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and in so many ways we’re conditioned not to see our beauty. Loving ourselves relentlessly is seen as vain and vapid, so from a young age we’re taught three messages:

1 / Loving yourself is a sign of vanity and instead, you should be overly humble.

2 / You should reject any compliments you receive with false humility.

3 / That feeling pretty is lower on the hierarchy of “attractiveness” than feeling beautiful. That you need to feel pretty first.

Fuck that. Seriously.

Turning back those ingrained lessons isn’t easy and I wish there was a mantra I could tell you to repeat 10 times each morning that would solve all your problems, but our minds don’t all learn that way. The one thing I can tell you to repeat every time a thought like that creeps up is “Fuck that.” Think that you shouldn’t love yourself? Fuck that. Think that someone else is better than you because her waist is leaner? Fuck that. Think you’re better than someone else because your complexion is clearer? Fuck that.

We are not here to compare ourselves or journey toward some end goal of “attractive” that less than 5% of the world’s population actually has. When I look in the mirror and feel beautiful it has nothing to do with how my skin, hair, body looks. It has nothing to do with whatever sexualized DM has popped up today. It has nothing to do with whatever compliment was given to me that morning. It has everything, everything to do with how powerful I feel.

The times that I question my beauty are the times that I question my strength. There are plenty of times I look in the mirror and see a surprise blemish or don’t feel as toned as I’d like to be, as a woman the list of things to be self-conscious about is endless. But I have to remind myself to step back and realize that the important parts of who I am are not external. I refuse to value the opinion of someone who only likes me for my external and if I don’t value their opinion then it’s meaningless.

If you are struggling to feel beautiful start by looking at where you do and do not feel in control in your life. Where do you feel like you are in the passenger’s seat? You are the woman in charge, you determine your worth. Your beauty is your birthright. Beauty is not something that you need to achieve, it’s something you innately have. You are entitled to it.

So what do you do when it escapes you? When you feel out of control? When you don’t feel in your power?

Channel someone who is in their power and use their energy. Choosing someone powerful and strong who has all the qualities that you admire, and focusing on that person’s energy when you are feeling low to zap yourself back into self-love. It’s not about becoming another person, it’s about feeling their vibrations and using that to spark the same energy in you. When I have a “self-conscious” day there are two women I reach for: Audrey Hepburn and Lara Croft. Very different energies and both powerful, magnetic, and beautiful in their own ways. How would they walk down the street? Internalize that energy and it will alter the energy you are putting out.

I’m going to copy something I wrote in a previous post below because I continue to stand by it:

Ingrain your beauty in every moment you have with yourself. Don’t just go through the motions of self-care, embrace the moments of self-care. Speak to yourself softly and gently and love yourself.

Love yourself with a long bath after a tough day. Love yourself with a facial massage to elevate some of that forehead tension. Love yourself with a little lip filler to boost your pout. Love yourself with a spin class. Love yourself with eating the “right” foods. Love yourself with eating the “wrong” foods.

Love yourself in all the ways that make you happy. There’s no right or wrong way to love yourself. There is no hierarchy of self-love. There is no hierarchy of beauty.

There’s beauty is all aspects of you. There’s beauty in your vulnerability, beauty in putting yourself out there, beauty in picking your battles, beauty is how you walk down the street, beauty in how you say hello, beauty in how you laugh, and beauty in how you cry. There is beauty in how you are.




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