Haley Kalil radiates confidence. But she wasn’t always so sure of herself and her body. Although she won Miss Minnesota Teen USA 2020, Miss Minnesota USA 2014 and SI Swimsuit’s first-ever open casting call in 2018, getting comfortable on stage or in front of the camera didn’t come naturally.
“I was always teased for the unevenness of my bust line, and I let the comments get to me,” says Kalil. “At the age of 18, I had a surgical breast enhancement because I thought it would make more people like me or think I was beautiful. But of course, that didn’t happen.”
In fact, the bullying got worse and made the self-proclaimed nerd even more self-conscious.“I was teased even more vigorously for being ‘fake,’” she reveals.
Then, not only was the emotional stress getting to the biomedical sciences and psychology major, but she also started physically reacting to the implants as well.
“Later on, complications set in,” she says. “I began to get shooting pain down my arms. I began to develop scar tissue around the implants. I hated them so much and finally decided to say, ‘Screw societal standards! I’m taking these out.’ I worked with an incredible reconstructive surgeon who helped recreate my bust in the safest way possible. It was the best choice I ever made.”
Now an outspoken body positivity advocate, Kalil is open about how she sets boundaries with her body. That included waiting until marriage to have sex.
“I view my body as something to be cherished,” says Kalil, who married NFL lineman Matt Kalil in 2015. “I made the choice very young to stay a virgin until I was married because I wanted to be respected for my mind and personality, rather than my body.”
She adds, “My body is beautiful because it carries me through life, not because it is an object of beauty or sexual pleasure for others. It is not something that exists just to bring others pleasure. My body is a vessel for me to hug the ones I love, climb mountains to see gorgeous views, eat my favorite foods, and truly experience life with. It is not something to be sexualized and objectified for someone else’s pleasure. My body is my own, and I demand respect for it.”
The 28-year-old takes to social media often to share this message, too. Recently, she posted a a glamorous photo of herself next to one in which she is wearing with pimple cream and wrote, “I am both these women. And that’s beautiful because that’s life. My skin isn’t always perfect. I’m not always confident. I get insecure. I feel imposter syndrome. I am human. We are all human. And THAT’S what’s so undeniably beautiful about life; it isn’t always perfect.”
She has also shared not-so-fashionable childhood pictures and side-by-sides comparing photo shoot images and dressed-down versions of herself. Kalil wants to use her platform to showcase that openness and provide a reality check for women. Her key piece of advice? “Never change your body for anyone else but you,” she says. “Don’t make the same mistake I did.”