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Ask any woman and she’ll probably say she feels pressure about her appearance. Whether she feels she’s “too fat,” “too skinny” — or sometimes both on the same day — the truth is that it often feels like there’s no winning. Trainer and Instagram fitness sensation Kelsey Wells isn’t immune to it, either. While many see her hard-earned fit physique as inspirational, she’s been told she looks “too manly” and “unfeminine,” and now she’s letting critics of other women’s bodies know that she’s fully, totally over it.

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Comments along the lines of "you're looking manly" or "careful you don't want to be bulky" or "weightlifting isn't feminine" never cease to amaze me.🤦🏻‍♀️🙄 I choose not to respond to negativity, but I do have something to say about this and I want to say it loud and clear. NOT in response to those who have left negative messages and comments, but instead to ALL MY FELLOW WOMEN who have ever received a similar comment or been told they need to do/be something different to be beautiful or feminine. THE ONLY THING A WOMAN NEEDS TO DO TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND FEMININE IS TO BE HERSELF. We empower ourselves when we are living our truth and doing what we are PASSIONATE about with our WHOLE HEARTS. I was always a girly girl growing up and I love getting dressed up on occasion. What has surprised me though is finding I feel most beautiful when I'm gross and sweaty in the gym when I'm pushing myself in my training, and even more so as I'm wrestling on the floor with my son or any time I'm looking into that little face and teaching him about his world. . There is 100% beauty and femininity in lifting weights. Just as there is in dancing. There is beauty in MOTHERHOOD. There is beauty in marriage. There is beauty in being a homemaker. There is beauty in being single. There is beauty in pursuing a career. There is beauty in education, in learning both inside and outside of school. There is beauty in public speaking. There is beauty in private, sincere conversation. There is beauty in writing and cooking and cleaning and singing and playing sports and playing instruments and anything and everything else you might enjoy, because simply there is SO MUCH BEAUTY in YOU, you just need to choose to see it. And it has nothing to do with what you look like. So free yourself of the opinions of others and the beauty standards of society. Pay attention to the moments in life you FEEL beautiful. What are you doing? DO MORE OF THAT. 🖤 . kelseywells.com/app

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In late September, Wells posted a series of Instagram photos that showed off different aspects of her life: dressed up in an adorable pink romper, flexing in her workout gear, and dressed-down in casual clothes as she hung out with her kid. At first glance, they seem like a glimpse into Wells’ busy day-to-day life, but on closer look, Wells was saying loud and clear that she lives her life for herself, and wants more women to keep striving to do the same.

“I was always a girly girl growing up and I love getting dressed up on occasion,” she wrote. “What has surprised me though is finding I feel most beautiful when I’m gross and sweaty in the gym when I’m pushing myself in my training, and even more so as I’m wrestling on the floor with my son or anytime I’m looking into that little face and teaching him about his world.”

“THE ONLY THING A WOMAN NEEDS TO DO TO BE BEAUTIFUL AND FEMININE IS TO BE HERSELF,” Wells stressed. “We empower ourselves when we are living our truth and doing what we are PASSIONATE about with our WHOLE HEARTS.”

“Free yourself of the opinions of others and the beauty standards of society. Pay attention to the moments in life you FEEL beautiful. What are you doing? DO MORE OF THAT.”

Well’s comment struck a nerve with her followers. Perhaps it was because what she said felt refreshing without the platitudes often found in motivational language — her words felt simple, authentic, and actionable. We spoke with Wells via email on how best to listen to and learn from your very own self.

Fitness doesn’t have to, and really shouldn’t, primarily be about physical aesthetics or changing your body, but rather a tool you can use to empower yourself and to gain confidence from the inside out by practicing determination, discipline, and consistency.

B+C: How did you learn to listen to yourself in the “moments you feel beautiful,” and to pursue them whenever you can?

KW: I don’t think it’s something I’ve completely learned, but rather an ongoing learning process. Simply being aware of what truly brings you happiness and then choosing to put your focus and energy into that instead of constantly focusing on your shortcomings or weaknesses is a great start.

B+C: Have you had any surprising revelations in those moments and in your pursuit of self-love?

KW: Really my whole fitness journey has been surprising, but the biggest and greatest has definitely been discovering that taking care of myself physically and building self-love go hand-in-hand. The revelation that fitness doesn’t have to, and really shouldn’t, primarily be about physical aesthetics or changing your body, but rather a tool you can use to empower yourself and to gain confidence from the inside out by practicing determination, discipline, and consistency.

How would you encourage young women to tune out negativity when they’re still growing into their confidence? It can be so overwhelming.

KW: I believe for us as women, growing into our confidence is a continual, ongoing process because life is always changing so we are constantly learning and growing. So, instead of thinking of self-confidence as a massive goal to reach someday, think of it as a part of your everyday journey.

Being kind to yourself, taking care of your body, and thinking positively about yourself and others are all tools you can use to find confidence daily. And the amazing thing is if you are putting your energy into positive vibes, any negativity you may face can be muted as a result, because you can’t be thinking positively and negatively at the same time. Remember, you cannot control what others think, but at the same time no one can control what you think. Choose to think positively and act with kindness so negativity can’t affect you!

How do you listen to and honor your truest self? Let us know @BritandCo!