Am I Ugly is published by Head of Zeus and is available for purchase here.
Am I Ugly?
In today’s world of supplements, celebrity diets and social media, it’s very easy to be hard on ourselves about the way we look. With all this pressure to strive for ‘perfection’ aesthetically, it is easy to forget how damaging this can be psychologically. Michelle Elman is a leading part of the body positivity movement that has been gathering momentum to liberate people from these unrealistic standards, recognise that all bodies are equally valuable and broaden the billboard definitions of beauty.
Am I Ugly? is this inspiring woman’s compelling and deeply personal memoir that describes her childhood experiences of life-threatening health problems, long stays in hospital and fifteen complex surgeries that left her scarred, both mentally and physically. The narrative follows Michelle’s journey from illness to health, and from childhood to adulthood as she deals with her body-confidence issues to embrace both her scars and her body – and help others to do the same. This remarkable book grapples with the wider implications of Michelle’s experiences and the complex interplay between beauty and illness.
My Review of Am I Ugly?
With life threatening illnesses, Michelle Elman endures a childhood that will leave both physical and mental scars.
I have to confess I read Am I Ugly? over quite a long period of time, not because I didn’t enjoy it (if, indeed, enjoy is the correct verb to use), but because I found it such a powerful book that I needed to tackle it in short bursts. Structured like a traditional three act Greek tragedy with just as much drama, Am I Ugly? is divided into 36 chapters all headed by questions about identity, at least one of which I can imagine that every human, male or female, on the planet can relate to.
I found Michelle Elman’s account of her life, her insecurities, and her attempts to come to terms with her body and mind, utterly fascinating. She writes in a captivating and fluent style about her experiences. There is a raw honesty and she doesn’t spare herself in the telling. I think Am I Ugly? could do more to further understanding of self image and to aid good mental health and well-being than any erudite thesis because here we have a warm, intelligent, independent woman who is prepared to open herself up to scrutiny and not only survives, but thrives. I found her writing brave, accessible and moving. Michelle Elman realises she is a product of her past but she also develops the tools to cope with that realisation and explains the process in a manner I think will bring solace to so many others.
By the time I got to the end of Am I Ugly? (and was in tears at Michelle Elman’s letter to her 11 year old self) I felt I had lived some of the author’s experiences with her, had met vicariously a woman whom I would be proud to know in real life and had been given tools that I can apply to my own life even now. Her epilogue might just be the most powerful and effective three pages for a reader lacking confidence that they have ever encountered.
I heartily recommend Am I Ugly? to anyone struggling with physical or mental illness, anyone who feels a lack of confidence and crippling insecurity or to anyone who knows someone who is suffering in this way. Am I Ugly? is powerful, uplifting and helpful writing.
About Michelle Elman
Michelle Elman is a five-board accredited body confidence coach, award-winning body positive activist and author. She has appeared on Sky News, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC; and has featured in over a hundred press articles worldwide. Michelle’s TEDx talk ‘Have you hated your body enough today?’ has been viewed over 40,000 times.