Rumer Willis On Sisters, Self-Talk, and Self-Worth

Actress and singer Rumer Willis reflects on the power of supportive sisters, her journey towards self-acceptance, and the ways she is relearning how to speak to her inner child about self-worth.
Rumer Willis On Sisters, Self-Talk, and Self-Worth

“I have four sisters. Two of them are very young. One is eight; the other is six. I feel so grateful to have a support system of women I can share anything with. I can talk to them about sexuality, body image, the weird rash on my back, or the comparisons I shouldn’t be making between my body and theirs.” 

“We may be related, but we all look so different and have such varied body shapes. We have all compared ourselves to one another at some point, as sisters do, but we try to see these differences as a reminder to celebrate our own uniqueness. We especially try to instill early and lasting messages of self-love in the two youngest. It’s amazing how much self-acceptance we have as children before all those outside standards seep in.” 

Rumer Willis is a thirty-two-year-old actress and singer who most recently starred in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Rumer spent most of 2020 quarantining in Sun Valley Idaho with parents Demi Moore and Bruce Willis and her four sisters. Here, with no personal or professional distractions, Rumer embarked on a journey of self-acceptance. 


As Rumer worked to embrace her body's fluctuations throughout quarantine, she also began looking for ways to spark honest dialogue with other women who struggle with self-love. Rumer is committed to using her voice on her social media channels and forthcoming blog, but many of these conversations have begun even closer to home: with her sisters. 

“I hated my curly hair growing up and have struggled with my own body image for years. My sister Mabel, who is eight-years-old, looks just like me but with olive skin, while my sister Evelyn looks just like Tallulah. I make a point to talk to Mabel about appreciating her curls and how important it is to celebrate the things that make her unique. At eight, she loves her body, and I hope that she always carries that feeling with her, especially throughout these next few years.” 

“There is so much shame ingrained in us at a young age around natural developments into womanhood. I remember being fourteen and being so grossed out by the body hair I was starting to see on my legs and under my arms. I remember that terribly awkward phase when I first got boobs but wasn’t developed enough to wear a bra. I would see photos where I had those little baby points and feel so embarrassed.”  


“There is all of this shame attached to becoming a woman, but, at the same time, there is so much emphasis on quickly mastering beauty and sensuality. Suddenly, there are all these checkboxes: your face, your teeth, your butt, your boobs. If you are desirable within these checkboxes, if boys like you for these things, then you are valuable.” 

Rumer’s words of affirmation to her younger sister are an invaluable gift, as many young girls face a cacophony of opposing messages. If we are not being taught self-love, we are drowned with information on improving and “optimizing” the self. Growing up in the public eye, Rumer experienced a barrage of these impossible standards, crushing her sense of self-worth for years to come. 

“I never felt like I fit into any of those boxes. I struggled. People made fun of the way I looked. I always felt like an outsider and got very used to the self-hatred that came with that. When blogs were first starting, I was sixteen-years-old and experienced a lot of bullying. These blogs would say I was ugly or looked like a man. Then, I did two photoshoots where my photos were face-tuned. It completely crushed me.”  

“You always hear your friends say: Oh, you’re the only one who feels that way. Those thoughts aren’t true. But having those photographers edit my face felt like this self-fulfilling prophecy. I must have been right all along. If someone is going to edit my face or my body, there must be something wrong with it.”


“For a long time, I numbed those feelings out. I put all that self-hatred and negativity towards myself into a box and looked away. I thought maybe I could fake it until I made it. Then one day, I started talking to my sisters Scout and Tallulah about similar experiences they had struggled through, and we began to realize that ignoring these thoughts does not make them go away.” 

“Negative self-talk doesn’t disappear because you aren’t paying attention to it for a moment. You have to really dig deep into the root of that misidentification around your body. Dismantling these things is slow, difficult work. It’s a process you have to show up for every day.” 

Rumer’s process of dismantling these messages in her mind sounds a lot like her frequent conversations with Mabel and Evelyn. To learn to love ourselves, we must learn to talk to ourselves with the same compassion and empathy we would use with our little sister. 


“I would never talk to an eight-year-old Rumer and say, ‘Oh god, you’re fat,’ or, ‘Your arms are too big,’ or whatever it is that I say to myself when I’m feeling bad about my body. I would say, ‘You have a beautiful body, and it’s going to take us on a bike ride right now.’ I would tell her how strong she is, emphasizing all the incredible things her body can do for her.”

“My next project is to hang up photos of myself at different ages around my house because it’s easy to have negativity as an adult, but the part of you that’s hurting is the little girl or little boy inside of you. The child who felt they were not accepted. This project is about speaking to that little girl with love.” 

While Rumer is relearning how to speak to her inner child, she is also thinking about the effect of those words on her future children. Self-acceptance, Rumer notes, is not an effective lesson to preach until we are living these values ourselves. 


“As I get closer to an age where I want to become a mom, self-acceptance has taken on an even greater weight. It’s so important to get to a place where you love yourself because no matter how many times a little girl hears her parent tell her that she is beautiful or loved, the message won’t stick unless that self-love is reflected in the parent. Before I have kids, I need to make sure I’m leading by example.” 

“How am I doing working towards that? I’m learning to not be  resistant to everything that’s coming up during this pause. I’m learning to love myself and accept my body’s fluctuations. I’m learning to embrace vulnerability and engage in dialogue around inclusivity and acceptance with other women. These shared experiences – of self-judgment, self-love, and everything in between – really connect us as women. Let’s make sure it’s a positive connection.” 

“It’s up to all of us to support a generation of women who find their value outside of men, sex, and the internet. We have to talk to this younger generation – and the inner children within ourselves – with compassion, celebration, and encouragement.”


Tags: bodytalk

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Rumor, I was a fan of your dad first, your mom second, and you third. You are beautiful. You also taught me about a conversation I need to have with my 21 year old daughter. I have spent countless, endless amounts of time criticizing myself and my body since I was young. When I look at photos of myself when I was young, I was not fat nor was I ugly. But I told myself I was. And I did that every day, every time I looked at myself in a mirror. I spent years torturing myself. How sad is that? I need to make sure that my daughter doesn’t do this. It’s the best gift I could give her. Thank you, Rumor!

Theresa Sullivan

Feb 2021

Rumer is so refreshing and honest


Jan 2021

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