How You Can Improve Your Self Esteem…Gala Darling’s Story

I watched this fantastic TED talk by the inspirational Gala Darling – a kiwi girl with a hybrid accent living in the US, and on a quest to empower and show women how to practice Radical Self Love. Such an important topic, with some crazy statistics that makes my heart ache! For any guys reading this…please continue to read this post as your sister, mother, partner or girl-friends may be needing a good dose of self love…and you might too.


Some of these statistics that Gala talks about include:

  • only 4% of women would call themselves beautiful
  • young girls are more afraid of getting fat than they are of getting cancer, nuclear war or losing both of their parents
  • a UK study revealed 6 out of 10 women thought they’d be happier if they were skinnier
  • 455 college women have been told negative comments about their body by their parents or siblings
  • women with low self-esteem are more likely to stay in abusive relationships, less likely to start their own businesses and will earn less money than their more confident counterparts

Gala’s Story…

On Valentines Day 2010, Gala decided to start a movement that she called Radical Self Love. One of the reasons behind starting this was, 5 years ago, when she started out with her fabulous blog which at the time was all about fashion, she would get so many comments from women asking her questions such as “what should I wear to disguise my chubby thighs?” There were so many women out there with low self-esteem.

Valentines Day – a day known to make single girls reach for a box of chocolates and question why they don’t have an amazing guy in their life buying them most beautiful bouquet of flowers AND a card expressing their love!

The thing with Valentines Day as Gala points out, is even if you do have a partner and you’re in love, it doesn’t necessarily make your life any better or happier if you don’t feel comfortable within, and love yourself first.

So on February 14th, 2010, Gala started her movement towards Radical Self Love, and she began this by writing about her own journey towards loving herself and becoming confident with who she is. You see Gala has been on the other side of the coin, the (as she calls it) Radical Self Loathing side. In her teens, Gala knew she was different. She was a teenage gothic, who would wear a spikey dog collar around her neck with stripey stockings and combat boots. But mostly, Gala was just really angry and she didn’t know why or how to deal with this anger. So she began self-mutilating herself when she was 13 years old. And after she had done that, she would feel calm and peaceful again – a common outcome for people who self-mutilate. So sad.

This went on for 5 years until she was 18 and had a bit of a scare whilst doing her usual routine. She cut herself too deeply this time and bled a lot. This prompted her to stop immediately as she realised she could have caused herself some real damage. However,Β  6 months later she moved out of home and swiftly developed an eating disorder due to her depression. So now she was not only miserable and depressed, she was also starving herself – a lethal combination.

Gala thought her life would be over. This was until a man came into her life who wouldn’t take any of her crap and also happened to be into alternative healing modalities. One of these was EFT (emotional freedom technique), which Gala then used to get over her eating disorder and it basically left her system overnight!

Steps Towards Radical Self Love

When Gala receives emails from women asking her how to start Radical Self Love, this is what she recommends:

  1. First start by getting yourself a big journal or blank book and fill it with all the things that’s good about yourself, so if you’re ever having a bad day or feeling ugly, you can look at this journal and immediately feel better. When I was younger and working as a model, it was hard not to have body image issues…especially working in Asia as all the models would be constantly weighed and measured and told you were “fat”. I never suffered from an eating disorder, but I definitely haven’t liked what I’ve seen in the mirror on many occasions. I wish I had this strategy back then to help with those negative feelings.
  2. In the same journal or a different one, write down EVERY COMPLIMENT you receive. It’s too easy to remember all the negative…this will make you think more positively about yourself. Of all the compliments I have been given throughout my life, there are two that stand out. One was around 10 years ago in Sydney by my friend Amelia…we were out one night at a bar chatting away, and out of the blue she told me as she was looking into my eyes, that I have “the most sincere and kind eyes.” That touched me so deeply. The other was about 5 years ago in NYC by my friend Will. He would often ask me out for drinks or to go and see a live band during the week, which I would do every now and then. But if my body wasn’t feeling up to it, I’d have no problem with saying “no”. Will said to me one evening when we caught up …”You know what I love about you Liz? I love that you really respect yourself and love yourself.” Another compliment that affected me deeply. It is true that I have always been in tune with my body, even from a very early age. Mum said that growing up she never had to tell me when to go to bed! There may have been only 20 minutes left of a movie or tv program I was watching, but if my body was telling me I had to get to sleep, I’d promptly get off the couch and take myself off to bed! However, there most definitely have been times when I’ve ignored my body’s signals and have suffered the consequences. I’ve certainly burnt the candle at both ends at times in my 20s…something I’m very careful about these days.
  3. Practice gratitude – Gala has a “Things I love Thursdays” on her blog where she writes all the things she’s grateful for. It’s so important to count your blessings and not your problems.This is something I have been doing for over a year. I have a journal that I write in before I go to bed most nights (although since I moved back to Perth I admit I have fallen out of the routine – this has prompted me to start again!). I write 10 things I’m grateful for plus one thing I learned that day and one thing I did for someone else. Doing this routine gives me a greater sense of well-being and I sleep better too! I’ve decided to borrow Gala’s idea of “Things I love Thursdays” and start a “Tuesdays Blessings” on my facebook page. I will start the blessings off each Tuesday with what I’m grateful for, and encourage all of you to leave a comment with your blessings each Tuesday too. Lets start a Facebook movement towards gratitude! πŸ™‚
  4. STOP reading gossip websites and tabloids! They are very negative, competitive and judgmental and certainly won’t be doing your spirit or self-esteem any good! I’d also add to this list seriously limiting the amount of news you watch and read. It affects you on a subconscious level.
  5. Create your own visions on what success, beauty and relationships looks like. Put them into play in your own life and expand your vision on what life could be like. Gala says this will make you more well-rounded, diverse and certainly more happy :-). I have done this in a couple of different ways…one has been in the form of a ‘vision board’. I think it was before I went to New York that I did this…and it was so much fun! I spent hours cutting out images from magazines and books and pasting them onto my board. The other was when I visualised and started creating a life that is perfect for me…an exercise I did last year with Dr Kisane that I spoke about in my last post. I will talk more about this in part 2 of that series.

When Gala was on a trip to New Zealand recently, she got inspired to write the following Radical Self Love Manifesto. I think every girl should print this out and look at it every day!

Gala Darling’s RSL Manifesto!

This is such an incredibly important topic. I invite you to share this with all the women in your life, or to anyone you think could benefit from learning about Radical Self Love. And as always, please feel welcome to leave a comment or message me privately πŸ™‚


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  1. Kim says

    Thanks for another great inspirational post Liz! Reading this post is on my grateful list for today πŸ™‚

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