I’m Dani Kelley,

and I do lots of things.

Self-Care

I have to make a deliberate effort to prioritize my mental, emotional, and physical well-being, and I find that sharing what I do is empowering both for me and for others like me. I also am running a series called “Self-care is…” that documents my efforts to take care of myself.

My body is magnificent.

We’re coming upon the New Year — and that means a dramatic increase in the onslaught of marketing about weight loss, dieting, exercise, and getting a better body. But what makes a “good” body? I suggest that everyone has a Good Body by virtue of having a body. Whether you’re thin or fat, able-bodied or disabled, struggling with an eating disorder or body dysphoria, white or any minority that’s never celebrated as much as whiteness is — you have a good body.

And I want to help you celebrate it with this shirt.

I contain all of me.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my various passions, the segments of my life that sometimes mesh together and sometimes seem not to. There’s been not just a little worry about writing so openly about my mental and physical health problems, particularly on a site that also contains my professional portfolios of work.

It’s difficult for me to really nail down an accurate picture of myself. I know who and how I’d like to be, and how I’d like to be perceived, but despite all my intuition, I can’t often intuit how others actually perceive me. Which, of course, can present problems. Particularly when fighting an anxiety disorder.

What if my writing turns away prospective clients or alienates colleagues? What if my insecurities illegitimize my experience and expertise in others’ eyes? What if they see all my selfies and talk of video games and makeup and think me another shallow millenial? What if my self-preservation techniques are misunderstood? What if my feminism or humanism are seen as obnoxious? What if I am simply not enough of a Normal Adult, and too much…me?

Smokey Eye with tarte energy noir palette

For my first ever makeup tutorial, I use tarte cosmetics’ energy noir palette—and let me tell you, I am in love.

Every color in this palette is a color that works well with my skin tone. I’m cool-to-neutral, and this is definitely on the mauve/taupe/plum side of things, which is simply perfection.

The shadows are so easily blendable and buildable. There’s not a lot of fallout, and they don’t irritate my sometimes sensitive eyes.

A+, would buy again in a heartbeat.

Microaggressions and fat-shaming.

It is no one’s goddamn business what I eat, except for me and my doctors. I owe no one explanations for my food choices. I owe no one an explanation for my body. I’m not obligated to share my financial availability for Good Food, nor my health surrounding ability to lose weight or process nutrients in a way ignorant people think I should. My body does not require an explanation or an apology, and it shouldn’t elicit the spouting of erroneous information or meaningless advice from friends, family, or strangers alike — and it most certainly shouldn’t inspire complete strangers to pressure me into eating things I don’t want to eat and adjusting my restaurant orders to something they’re more comfortable with a Fatty McFatperson like me eating.

If I ate nothing but fruits and vegetables, I would not be worthy of more respect.

If I ate nothing but fried foods and sweet, I would not be worthy of less respect.

If I incorporated regular intensive workouts into my daily life, I would not be a more worthy human.

If I did nothing but sit on the couch and eat Cheetos all day long, I would not be a less worthy human.

And I hate so much that, despite working constantly on body positivity and self-care for the past 4 years, all it takes is one terrible person to make me second-guess the validity of my existence and self-worth as a fat femme person.

On suicide: when the darkness is too deep.

If you’re suicidal, please be gentle with yourself. Reach out — to friends, to doctors, to the National Suicide Hotline. Sometimes those of us out here in the sea really can support one another until the next life raft arrives.

If you’ve been impacted by someone’s suicide, please be gentle with yourself as well. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault.

Please start fighting back against people who think suicide is a joke. Please fight against those who blame people for being unable to stop from drowning when the darkness got too deep. Please fight against the stigma that people who are suicidal need to be ignored or reprimanded.

Please love us. Please love one another.

Sometimes, the darkness is just too deep. But I know that I’ll never forget the people who care enough to really see my situation and help rather than blame.

Let us love and support one another, and let us destigmatize suicide. Let’s help each other stay afloat as long as we can.


This month is National Suicide Prevention Month. If you need help for yourself or for a loved one, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also call 1-800-273-8255. You are not selfish. You are not a waste. You are not a failure. And you are not alone.

The body I have, continued.

Some days, I absolutely rock at self-care. Some days, I don’t hurt as badly and I’m able to function. It’s easy to accept myself on those days, to like my body on those days.

But some days, I look in the mirror and want to scream. Some days getting out of bed without screaming in pain takes so much effort that it’s all I can do to catch my breath. Some days I still want to give up on everything. Some days I’m still overwhelmed with feelings of betrayal about my body, feelings of hatred for it, feelings of moral decay and failure for being unable to attain society’s label of a Good Body.

But you know something?

The body I have is a Good Body. No matter what anyone says or thinks, even on days when I can’t quite believe it myself.

It’s the only body I will ever have. Its shape, abilities, size, and other physical attributes absolutely do not decide my worth as a human being nor my ethics or morals. The hatred I’ve been taught to have for it is what’s immoral. The system that shames women, particularly fat women, particularly fat opinionated women, is what’s immoral. My existence? Nah. My existence in this particular body has no bearing on my morality.

Celebrate the little victories.

These are such small things. Such little victories. What right have I to celebrate them?

The same right I have to celebrate the victories of all of my friends and family who deal with chronic illnesses, physical and mental. Small victories are victories. Medication that allows me to escape the never-ending cycle of panic is useful. Wrapping myself in soft, warm cloth is calming and soothing. Touching my skin and putting makeup on with gentle, loving hands is crucial on days where I struggle to love myself. Such a short amount of time of my day, and yet now I am calm. I can think. I am okay.

Celebrate the little victories. Always, celebrate the little victories.