Molly Dunn


I'm not sorry for being beautiful. Ever since I was 4 years old, when I was molested, I was painfully aware of having a body and that men wanted something from me. My innocent childhood curiosity and naivety turned into shame and guilt. Not to mention when I got older, equating anything sexual with being dirty and not of my consent. I wasn’t really aware of the ramifications of being abused until I was 13 and noticed everyone holding hands, kissing, or sitting on each other’s laps. I’d observe, enviously, as I wanted to be a normal teenager, but in my mind, I was terrified. “Touch” was not an innocent, loving thing to my body.

As I got older, I simply reenacted my abuse, putting myself in precarious sexual situations that seemed way out of my character otherwise. In the midst of all this, I was in college and was spending my summers farming and traveling the world. I cut off all my hair, because I got too much attention for having pretty hair, and tried to hide my body to get as little physical attention as possible. I focused on my inner journey, hoping others would also ignore my outward appearance. I’m tall and curvy, and I just wanted to hide. I felt guilty for feeling pretty or taking up space.

I found solace in communities of strong women. I even found a community that had a “no body talk” rule that rocked my world. In many ways, I was really happy. I was focusing on my character, spirituality, and I pushed myself to do things I never thought I’d do. In other ways, I was miserable. Ignoring my outer shell also included ignoring health issues, and I just didn’t feel good in my skin. I longed for change but it felt impossible to have something in my life that my body or mind couldn’t even fully comprehend: feeling whole and beautiful in my body and skin. Feeling healthy and excited about intimacy and relationships. When was I allowed to have those things? It wasn’t an overnight revelation that flipped these aspects of my life.

There were many small incidents and beautiful men and women I met along the way that have influenced me and encouraged me to share my gifts with the world. I remember all these interactions, and how so many healers, whether they knew it or not, pushed me more and more towards a more open, unapologetic Molly. I’m forever grateful to these people.

Another big teacher for me was “pretending.” I pretended to feel confident and beautiful, and then one day, I forgot it was a game.

I'm a survivor of child sexual abuse and I painfully hid for years. But it's impossible to hide, especially standing tall at 5'10. With a lot of help, I've turned a corner in my relationship to my body, relationships with other people, and intimacy.

I decided to share this story as to maybe help or reach someone who connects with my struggle. I also need to share this story because there is a taboo around talking about sexual abuse and I have nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. I’m thankful for my journey and I honestly wouldn’t take anything back.

I’m not afraid of being beautiful anymore and I'm definitely not sorry about it. I refuse to apologize for taking up space.

About the photo:

I decided to be photographed wearing something glamorous and in the regal Majestic Theatre Lobby in Downtown Jersey. I wanted to capture an image of myself loving my skin and unapologetically taking up lots of space!