These 14 personal essays show there’s no such thing as TMI


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Full disclosure: This list was originally going to include just 10 stories. But, as I started combing through the 2018 archives, I turned into a shopaholic at a sample sale—And I want this one! And this one! Oooh, this one is too beautiful to pass up!

As managing editor at Well+Good, I read almost everything that gets published on the site. And so often, the stories that stay with me—that I think about during my commute, bring up in dinner conversations, and send to my friends—are the personal essays. And this year, our writers really brought it in the realness department.

From acne to anxiety, body image to body hair, these stories went there. And I’m so, so glad they did.

I had elective breast reduction surgery at 18 and the changes were more than skin-deep

By the time Tamim Alnuweiri was 16, she was a J cup. Tying her shoes was tricky, running was painful, and wearing cute bralettes was completely out of the question. After she had surgery two years later, the weight that had been lifted felt so much greater than a few cup sizes.

“I thought my high-functioning anxiety made me better at my job. I was so, so wrong.”

Alicia Lutes thought her anxiety, which made her go, go, go like the Little Engine That Could, made her a better manager and more productive worker. It took a career fail of epic proportions to shatter this illusion. As a complete Type A personality, I relate to this story hard.

The real reason I don’t wear makeup

In this gorgeous essay, Jordan Galloway shares why she’s always felt excluded from the makeup game and examines the reality of the “40 shades club” (namely, that it “can still feel like 50 shades of beige”). When it comes to inclusivity in the beauty aisle, we still have a ways to go.

Self-care for chronic illness
Photo: Laurel Creative

What to do when self-help fails you, according to a chronic illness advocate

If anyone radiates good vibes, it’s Nitika Chopra. But when I met the self-love advocate for the first time this spring, she told me how she spent years in pain, barely able to move. And even then, she struggled with flare-ups of her psoriatic arthritis. In this story, Chopra shares how she redefined “self-care” in a way that worked for her and her chronic illness (not in spite of it).

Anthony Bourdain was a wellness hero to me

Anthony Bourdain—whose death this past June shocked foodies and wanderlusters worldwide—would have hated being linked to wellness. But for editor-at-large Erin Hanafy, the curmudgeonly chef’s appreciation for fresh food and culinary traditions “put [her] on a path that led straight to the farmers market.”

I stopped meditating after 3 years, and I feel like I’ve lost a part of who I am

Who said a personal essay needs to be a long read to make an impact? Kells McPhillips’ mini wellness memoir packs a poignant punch in 500 words.

Acne is a part of my life, and I’ve decided to be okay with that

I’ve lost track of the number of remedies Well+Good’s associate beauty editor Rachel Lapidos has tried for her acne—cutting out dairy and washing her face with honey are just two I remember off-hand. If a new pimple treatment surfaces on Reddit and needs testing, she’s the first to raise her hand. When Rachel proposed a story about how she’d come to terms with her skin, I knew we’d reached a breakout breakthrough—and the resulting story is known affectionately around the office as her “acne manifesto.”

explant surgery Samantha Paige
Photo: Lisa Field for Last Cut Project

How removing my breast implants made me feel more like myself—and sexier than ever 

It wasn’t the double mastectomy that made Samantha Paige, creator of the Last Cut Project, feel alienated from her body—it was the breast implants her doctor insisted she get that did it. For this story, Paige chronicles the long journey back to herself.

The surprising thing writer Glynnis MacNicol wishes she knew about turning 40

While not exactly a personal essay, I had to include this incredibly intimate conversation between two incredibly smart women: MacNicol, who published her memoir about being single and childless in her 40s (No One Tells You This) earlier this year, and Well+Good contributor Erin Bunch.

Everyone poops—and wow, does my husband know it

Bravo to Alexis Berger for turning this story about poop into an allegory for honesty and vulnerability in relationships.

Body positive boudoir shoot
Photo: Cheyenne Gil

How a body-positive boudoir photo shoot helped me heal after dating a narcissist

When Aly Semigran pitched this story, it was an immediate “yes” from me. And what she delivered just about knocked me out. Relatable, emotional, empowering—it checks all the give-me-feels boxes.

California is burning: What do we do after the fires are out?

When California resident Annie Tomlin wrote this achingly personal op-ed, the smoke in Los Angeles was still so thick it burned her lungs. And yet, the story’s message is a positive one: It’s not too late to stop the worst-case climate-change scenario from happening.

What running the NYC marathon taught me about myself—and my bod

Part ode to running, part concrete list of tips for mastering the sport, Ali Finney’s story is a must-read for everyone who enjoys pounding the pavement.

No, it’s not okay to shave your bikini line

When I wrote this story (which, spoiler, is not going to earn me any Pulitzers) I was so sure that my god-awful experience with shaving my bikini line was universal. According to the many, many responses on our Instagram feed, though, I was very wrong. But hey, this story got people talking, which in my book is a sign of a personal story worth reading.

Next, check out our most popular stories of 2018. And the top time-saving hacks we learned this year.

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