Ladies First highlights women and girls who are making the world better for the rest of us.

Achieving self-love and embracing self-care isn’t always easy, given social media and the celebrity-driven world we live in, but it is often especially difficult for young girls and teens. Which is exactly what author, body-positive mom, and self-love expert Allison Kimmey is on a mission to change.

“I grew up a very shy and overweight child after some trauma left me very closed off and using food as comfort,” she admits in an email. “I felt unworthy to get involved in activities because I was always fearful of what others would think of me. I missed out on many experiences and my self-hate compounded through college, and into my first years as a wife and mother.”

Then, at the age of 24, she had her big eureka moment: She became pregnant with a baby girl. The thought of having a daughter grow up with the same body-image and self-esteem challenges that she herself faced snapped Kimmey into action.

“I didn’t want her to be like me,” Kimmey remembers thinking. “In that moment, I realized that something had to change. Shortly after that, I began my journey to finding self-love.”

It’s a journey she’s chosen to document on Instagram in an effort to inspire self-love in others. With 182k followers and counting, several of her empowering, honest posts have already gone viral. She most recently made headlines in February when her now-six-year-old daughter decided to get rid of her Curvy Barbie.

I felt a sense of ease from so many of my lovely followers after I shared my sizes. I realized I don’t really share those numbers very often here, because well none of us are defined by them in the least. But I do honor that it helps us all relate to one another and see ourselves in others and that helps us validate that loving oneself is possible no matter what our size (or any other physical trait that tends to define us in society) So yes! Right now I’m a size 18 on top, and a size 20 on the bottom. Sizes are subjective as you probably have experienced that nearly every brand has different sizing! But I use Lane Bryant’s size chart. I am 5’10’’ and have always been tall - tallest in my class through grade school! I wear a size 8.5 or 9 in shoes but have wide ankles and calf’s so hardly ever fit in shoes with ankle straps (unless I make a new set of holes) and boots - forget it! I wear a 36DDD, but used to be a 34b. I had a breast augmentation in 2014. So no I don’t usually have to wear a bra - and this would be why they still look perky. I have naturally light hair, but get it colored lighter every 6-8 weeks. I have eyelash extensions because I love them. The point of sharing all that is really to say that despite ALL OF THAT INFORMATION - none of it actually really matters. I learned that I was no different, or more valuable as a size 2/4 as I am now as a size 18/20. I learned that I was no more sexy with uneven saggy breasts as I am now with fuller proportioned breasts bc my conviction in my self worth and my confidence when I own my body are what makes me attractive to ME. And in the end - your body, your rules. You get to decide how you’re going to see it, with love or with hate. But might I say, babe, hating it hasn’t gotten you anywhere good yet, has it? Give me an amen 🙌🏻🙌🏻 if you’re feelin this post! Just do you babes! Xoxo Allie _________ Swimsuit is @gabifresh for @swimsuitsforall

A post shared by ALLIE 🌸 Just Do You, Babe! (@allisonkimmey) on

“At first, I wasn’t sure if she had just thrown it away by accident,” the mom admits. “When she explained that she threw away this Barbie in particular because ‘Her arms aren’t right; Her legs are too big; She doesn’t look like my other Barbies; she doesn’t fit into any of the clothes except this one outfit’ I knew it was something I needed to carefully address.”

The unexpected incident served to highlight an important fact for Kimmey: “Even though I am a body-positive advocate and self-loving mother, outside influences, down to the toys our children play with, leave them with an impression that being bigger is bad,” she says. “This interaction with my daughter lit a new fire in me to continue the work I do!”

That work includes regularly sharing empowering messages on her Instagram page, as well as a free e-book, Get the Body You Love Now By Loving the Body You Have!, and a nonprofit, called GirlPhoria, which she founded in 2015. With a mission to “empower teen girls through self-love, self-care, and self-discovery,” GirlPhoria organizes live workshops, therapy projects, and even yoga and pilates classes, all aimed at starting a healthy conversation about body image, mental health and growing up.

The busy mama has also just finished writing her first body-positive children’s book, titled Glitter Stripes, “a phrase my daughter and I created after having a conversation about my stretch marks about a year ago,” explains Kimmey. “She had asked me what they were and instead of responding with something negative to explain them, I decided to lovingly explain how I had received these marks and revel in the beauty of their sparkle.”

As for her top piece of advice for anyone struggling with self-love, Kimmey keeps it simple: “Just do you. I have said it on the darkest days when I didn’t even know who ‘you’ was, and I say it now in my most joyous days,” she declares. “When we live our lives authentically, follow our hearts, and let the expectations of others fall away, then we are truly living. So, just do you, babes!” YES!

What do you think of Kimmey’s approach to self-love and parenting? Tweet us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Allison Kimmey)