As Taystee on Orange is the New Black (which returns to Netflix on June 9!) or Sophia in Broadway’s The Color Purple, Danielle Brooks never shies away from playing a strong character and making her voice heard. But it’s not just an act—the actress IRL is equally outspoken about women’s health and empowerment.
The fitness lover and model for Lane Bryant is an avid user of the #voiceofthecurves hashtag, and now Brooks is serving up major inspo with a letter she wrote to her 15-year-old self on Refinery 29—and it’s filled with write-this-down-now gems.
But you don’t have to be prepping for prom to appreciate the wisdom of Brooks’ advice to her 15-year-old self—here are 6 takeaways that are useful for all ages.
1. You do you
“You really quit cheerleading because of how you felt you looked in your skirt? Okay! Never quit anything again because you’re scared of what others might think of you—unless you become a stripper, only exception. But even then, quit because you want to,” Brooks writes.
2. Celebrate your healthy habits
“I know sometimes we think youthfulness will last forever, but girl, it doesn’t,” Brooks writes. “Stretch. A lot. And trade that orange soda in for water. Trust me, it’ll keep those arms and thighs remaining as flawless as ever, honey. Also, adult acne is real. With all the makeup you’ll have to wear, it’s just bound to happen. So, invest in your moneymaker. One day you’ll meet an amazing dermatologist, and he’ll get you on the right track.”
3. Love your stretch marks
“They are the roadmap of your strength,” she writes.
4. It gets better—shopping included
“I know you’re starting to develop and trendy clothes are hard to find,” Brooks writes. “I mean the only places that carry your jean size are Walmart and Catos, for God’s sake. But trust, it gets better. One day you will shock yourself by how many women you inspire through your fashion and your willingness to be open about your journey with your body. Continue to show people how to live unapologetically in their magic.”
5. It’s great to be different
“You are not an ordinary 15-year-old, and that is okay,” Brooks shares. “That doesn’t make you better or less than anyone. But what you must not do is dim your light. You have a lot of love to give and believe it or not, it is not as easily accessible for others to give the same. People have a lot of hangups that will make them guarded, but continue to operate out of love. It will always win.”
6. Some of those setbacks might just be blessings
“One day that boy you had a crush on, you’ll run into him at the grocery store and discover he has three baby mamas and works at Verizon. Not even as a manager,” she writes. “Be patient. One day you will bring all the boys to the yard. They will be sliding in those DMs girl. That phrase will make more sense in 2017.” So true. (And so LOL-worthy.)
Brooks isn’t the only celeb doling out some excellent advice—here, Olivia Wilde offers up the secret to great smoothies and Khloe Kardashian shares her hack for eating healthy off the Chipotle menu.