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  • Writer's pictureMonica Marrow

Journey to Self-Love: A Promise to Overcome and Thrive, A Message From The Founder Of "What Makes You Feel Beautiful"

It took nearly 20 years for me to love myself and believe I am worthy. From the time I was four until I was 19, my life was filled with trauma. I faced relentless bullying, physical abuse, and assault throughout my childhood and teenage years. It felt like I was trapped in a cycle of pain with no way out. But through a long process of healing and transformation, I began to uncover my own strength.

I learned to triumph over my past experiences and reimagine the person I wanted to be, becoming the person who I truly am and always was: me being true to my own personality, creating values that are meaningful to me and my spirit regardless of any pressure to act otherwise. I am honest with myself and others, aligning my values, ideas, and actions, and I strive to operate from a place of love in all circumstances.

I founded What Makes You Feel Beautiful (WMYFB) in 1998, driven by a desire to help other girls and women believe in their worth and realize they can overcome their past. I initially envisioned a safe haven—a community where young girls could learn to trust themselves and recognize their beauty beyond the physical. Originally a charity social enterprise movement, the organization continued to grow and is now a 501(c)(3) nonprofit on Maui. In 2019, I brought the organization to Hawai'i, which became its home base and is now celebrating its fifth-year anniversary here.

This is my fav pic so far from 2024

Empowerment starts with acknowledging that your past does not define your future. My own journey of healing was not linear, and it took courage to let go of old narratives that told me I wasn’t enough. But over time, I learned that I could create new paths that aligned with who I truly was and what I wanted to become. I surrounded myself with people who supported and understood me, allowing me to heal in my own way.

In Hawai’i, we are reminded of how deeply trauma can impact a person’s life. We see poverty, sadness and teenage pregnancy affect our communities, and it can seem as though circumstances dictate our futures. But I promise you, if you can create and visualize a new, positive vision for yourself, your life can change. At WMYFB, we strive to help girls and women in Hawai’i find that inner strength, no matter how dim it might feel.

At WMYFB, we provide workshops and mentorship programs that equip our participants with skills in personal development, financial literacy, resume writing, and interview preparation. Our MAUI GEMS program, for instance, is designed to give young girls the opportunity to learn and grow over the summer, building a foundation that can help them navigate their future with confidence.

If you are a girl or woman struggling with trauma, know that you are not alone. There is a community ready to support and uplift you. Your worth is not defined by the experiences you've had or the words others have said about you. You have the power to write your own story and transform your life into something beautiful.

Let’s build a vision for ourselves that reflects the best version of who we are—whole, capable, and worthy. Together, we can rise above our past and embrace the limitless possibilities of our future.

With love and solidarity,

Monica Marrow

Executive Director, What Makes You Feel Beautiful


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