Actress Danielle Brooks recently penned a remarkable essay to her teenage self with spot-on advice for the young and young at heart.
In her must-read essay for Refinery 29, the fun-loving "Orange Is the New Black" and "Master of None" star covers everything from the getting over crushes to the importance of family.
Her most powerful words of wisdom center on self-love and knowing your worth.
Like this sage advice that belongs on every dressing room mirror, bathroom scale, and machine at the gym:
"Love your stretch marks Danie. They are the roadmap of your strength."
Or the way Brooks assures her teenage self she will find clothes that fit, flatter all of her curves, and inspire others to rock theirs too:
"One day you will shock yourself by how many women you inspire through your fashion and your willingness to be open about your journey with your body. Continue to show people how to live unapologetically in their magic."
And her beautiful reminder to herself — and all of us — to stay strong, patient, and compassionate, even when it would be easier not to:
"You are different, Danielle. You are not an ordinary 15 year old, and that is okay. That doesn’t make you better or less than anyone. But what you must not do is dim your light. You have a lot of love to give and believe it or not, it is not as easily accessible for others to give the same. People have a lot of hang ups that will make them guarded, but continue to operate out of love. It will always win."
A longtime advocate for body positivity and self-love, Brooks offers encouragement and inspiration on her Instagram too.
In 2015, she shared a badass workout selfie wearing capris and a sports bra, something Brooks never thought she'd have the confidence to do.
"Today my inner being told me to turn up the notch on my self-love. I should not be ashamed of my body. I'm not a walking imperfection! I'm a Goddess," she wrote.
Hey 💜rs, Today I decided to do something I've never done before: Go to the gym with my SHIRT OFF!! 🙊 I thought I'd share why this is significant for me. I've always wanted to do this but have felt shameful and have told myself "until my body is perfect I'm forbidden." Today my inner being told me to turn up the notch on my self-love. I should not be ashamed of my body. I'm not a walking imperfection! I'm a Goddess. Secondly, I'm a confident woman! That doesn't stop once I take off my spanx. Lol Sometimes it's a struggle. Sometimes I don't like what I see, but I have the power to change the way in which I relate to my body both physically and mentally. Today I woke up feeling beautiful and motivated to love myself and take care of the ONE body that I've been given. I'm not saying World take your shirt off, twist it round your head, spin it like a helicopter🎶, (lol) I'm saying everyone live in your confidence. One Life. One Body. Take Care of It. With 💜, DanieB #voiceofthecurves #yesmythighstouch #lovethyself #beautyinandout #goddess #imabadshutyomouth #ivebeeneatingmygreens #thickathanasnika
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In 2016, Brooks modeled for Lane Bryant's #ThisBody campaign along with stars like Gabourey Sidibe, Ashley Graham, and Alessandra Garcia.
Brooks spotted her glamorous photos for the campaign all around the city. The actress could barely contain her excitement — and why should she? She totally killed it!
Even a beautiful, talented woman like Brooks has lapses in confidence, just like the rest of us.
She shares those moments too, inspiring herself and her fans along the way.
We'll all have moments of doubt, but it's how we work through them that matters.
From our bodies or careers to our relationships, we all second-guess ourselves. But just like Danielle Brooks (and young Danie too), we can dig deep, find our confidence, and keep trying. Or, as she wrote in her poignant letter: "Stay fearless and keep swimming."