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How to Empower Kids to Stop Hating Their Flaws and Love Who They Are

by Emily-Anne Rigal, as told to Jeanne Demers

Photo credit: Gary Burchell / Taxi

Sometimes things just happen. It just happened that I was bullied so badly in elementary school that I needed to be moved to another school. It just happened that in the new school I turned into a bit of a bully myself. It just happened that in the new school I was surrounded by people who didn’t think being mean was cool.

Hi, I’m Emily-Anne Rigal and because those things happened to me, I had a light bulb moment as a teenager that changed my life.


People who feel good about themselves want others to feel the same.

That light bulb moment inspired me to address the issue of teen self-esteem. As a girl who loves making videos, it was a natural for me to invite all my YouTube friends to share about their experiences with bullying and their journey toward self-acceptance.

The YouTube channel was born.

It happened that not only my friends, but teens from all over the world began making videos sharing their favorite confidence tips and tricks on WeStopHate! The things they said were so genuinely helpful (and entertaining) that turning their voices into a book felt like a no brainer. I’m in love with the book! It’s called FLAWD: How To Stop Hating On Yourself, Others, and the Things that Make You Who You Are.

Here are a few of the best things I really came to understand about self-acceptance while creating FLAWD

You HAVE a body, but you are NOT your body.
This is a very freeing thing to get about yourself. It leads to seeing other things we confuse for “who we are.” Just like we have a body, but we are not our body … we have stories, but we are not our stories … we have social status, but we are not our social status … we have imperfections, but we are not our imperfections. Who we are is so much more than those things … and very much worth a look into.

“The Internet lets you create a person that isn’t you. I realized that I was losing myself and that I can’t lose myself, I have to know who I am. Who is Tommy? Who I am is not this person that I created.”
—JustAddTommy, age 17*

What if a flaw is a creative addition to the story of who we are?
This way of thinking is how 12th century Eastern civilizations thought about flaws. When a pot cracked, for example, they didn’t see the crack as a defect — they saw it as a creative addition to the pot’s life story. The crack made it more precious, not less! What if that could be the way we thought about ourselves and our flaws?

“But all those silly things that they think are your flaws, are actually what makes you the most beautiful of all.”
—ItsAntoniaWithAnA, age 16*

Be a flawd light in the world.
To “be a flawd light in the world” is to really get it that you are good enough, ready enough, and important enough to make a positive difference in the world.

To “be a flawd light in the world” is to also really get that you are not a great person with lots to share in spite of having flaws; you are a great person with lots to share because of your flaws! When we’re able to embrace all of who we are and share the stuff that’s hard to accept about ourselves with others, that’s empowering stuff.

“You, right now as you’re [watching] this, you are enough. In this moment, today, tomorrow and forever, just as you are.”
—TaylorrScreamsRawrr, age 15*


You’re ready to be a flawd light in the world.
Just like it happened that my experience with both sides of the bullying equation gave rise to the WeStopHate movement and the WeStopHate movement gave rise to the book FLAWD, it’s now happening that FLAWD is giving rise to Flawd Light — a course for parents that makes embodying self-compassion fun and fun to model! You can learn more about Flawd Light here.


* Quotes are excerpted from the teen-made videos where teens share their stories of overcoming bullying experiences and their favorite confidence tips and tricks.