Non-Fiction Book Reviews

Memoir | Am I Ugly? | Michelle Elman

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We’re delighted to be sharing Alice-Jane’s thoughts with you today on Michelle Elman’s memoir, Am I Ugly?

Michelle Elman survived 15 operations over 20 years, and it was only later in life that she stopped hating her scars and began to value her body for all it had battled through.

In 2015, Michelle noticed there wasn’t enough representation for scars and began sharing her experiences using the hashtag #ScarredNotScared and posted her first bikini picture online addressing the belief that “People With Scars Can’t Wear Bikinis”. Within 24 hours, the image had gone viral. It was featured in over 60 publications including The Today Show, The Daily Mail, The Independent, MTV, Cosmopolitan, People, Seventeen, The Mirror, and Buzzfeed.

At each stage of the memoir, Michelle shares intimate reflections with the reader which build her journey to the body-confidence champion she is today with a loyal following of 220.9K Instagram followers, 7.4K YouTube subscribers and 7K followers on twitter.

Book cover for Michelle Elman's memoir, 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.

Am I Ugly? is published by Anima and is available to purchase in digital, paperback, hardcover and audiobook formats.


‘Am I Ugly?’ Was such a privilege to read! I could not put this book down! 

Michelle Elman thoroughly engrosses the reader from start to finish in not only her life experiences of illness and the consequences, but how society’s reactions thoroughly affect our judgment of ourselves.

I found this emotional roller coaster of her story to be pensive, and critical. This criticism is not just addressing our harsh judgement of ourselves, but draws necessary attention to the value we give to others opinions of ourselves, and how destructive this can be. 

Michelle Elman has managed to write her heartbreaking story of her medical experiences with the added balance of questioning society’s acceptance or denial of this.

This awakens the reader to the knowledge that self confidence and self belief doesn’t come from fitting into the narrow minded slot of ‘perfection’ we are given to exist, but from creating our own love for ourselves.

Michelle manages to thoroughly comfort the reader that love is not earned from others by reaching a physical standard, but from being themselves and loving it! 

Thank you Michelle! 

Alice-Jane guest reviewer on Jera's Jamboree

Michelle Elman delivered a TED talk about her journey in 2017.

Well worth 11 minutes of your time.

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.

Connect with Michelle Elman


Twitter @ScarredNtScared


Read all posts in the memoir genre on Jera’s Jamboree.

I've been blogging about my interests at Jera's Jamboree for 9+ years. My love of reading, crocheting, being out in nature and positive psychology are all things that help me unwind from my role as an Inclusion Lead in a primary school.

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