We often look at the media and other people to tell us what we need to be and how we need to look. But in doing that, we create this false narrative in our minds that we aren’t enough, that our bodies aren’t beautiful, and that we aren’t worthy. And these narratives are far from the truth! We should be confident in our bodies … they can do incredible things! Body confidence isn’t just waking up one day and being like, “I am perfect, I am whole, I am complete.” It's really looking at those limiting beliefs that we've had in our brain and paying attention to that dialogue that we're having with ourselves every single day. Body confidence is about honoring your body, fueling it and not punishing it.
Jenna Kutcher is an entrepreneur, wedding photographer, and uses her social media platform to discuss personal things, like marriage, body image, and more. She recently went viral for a vulnerable and honest post about her own body confidence journey. She is amazing at wearing what she wants and not what other people think she should wear based on her size. She's beautiful, confident and I hope she inspires you on your own journey to body confidence.
In This Episode, Allie + Jenna Discuss:
How to find balance between loving ourselves and our bodies and still keeping the motivation to be healthy and make positive changes.
Embracing the seasons where you aren’t as confident in your body (ex. postpartum).
The value in accepting your body for what it has done for you and loving it for that.
How to love the body you have instead of focusing on the body you want.
Ways we can encourage others to be confident and love their bodies.
Mentioned in this Episode:
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.
Hey friends! I am over the moon excited to share today's guest with you. Jenna Kutcher is an inspiration to me. She is one of the very, very few podcasters and people who I pretty religiously follow online. I listen to her podcast. I've listened to almost every episode and I really can't say that about anyone else. I'm pretty picky with who I really follow and I just love her. She's such a light in this competitive, unkind world and I really respect her.
I wanted to have Jenna on the show to talk about our body image, loving ourselves, and treating ourselves well. Jenna is amazing at wearing what she wants, wearing what she feels good in and not what other people think she should wear based on her size. She's beautiful and confident and she's such an inspiration.
This episode is really, really great and I'm so excited to share it with you.
So, let's dive in!
For those who don't know Jenna, she does a lot of things. She mostly talks about business and that's why I mainly follow her. She talks about marketing and running your online business really well. If you're doing that, are aspiring to do that, she's a great person to follow.
She's also a wedding photographer. She takes beautiful photos.
She speaks very pointedly and beautifully about personal things, like marriage, body image and all of that. So, let's dive in to talking about body image with Jenna.
ALLIE: Hi Jenna! Welcome to The Purpose Show! Thank you so much for taking time to be here.
JENNA: Thanks for having me, Allie!
ALLIE: We're going to dive right in because I've got a load of questions for you from my Instagram audience and I really am curious to hear your answers.
You talk about a lot of things, but we're here to talk about body image. Specifically, self-love and getting over that self-consciousness that I think especially circulates around this summer season.
You have said that you struggled your whole life with your weight and insecurity surrounding that. I know myself and many of our listeners can definitely relate. Can you tell us a little bit about what exactly that has looked like for you over the years?
JENNA: When I was three years old, I started as a gymnast and my entire childhood was wrapped up in the sport of gymnastics. Unlike normal girls, I would go to school and then I'd get picked up off the bus and I'd go practice until 8:30 at night. We were really in it; it was intense and amazing, and it was probably my best memories ever.
So, growing up I was a very structured girl. I worked during lunch to get my homework done because we didn't have time to do it at the gym. I ate my meals at the gym and that gymnastics group was like my family.
From a very early age I was very aware of bodies because here we are in these Lycra leotards every single day being told to point our toes and suck in our guts. And we're tiny. We're just these tiny little humans.
When I was about 15, I had a bunch of foot injuries while being a gymnast that sidelined me. And it was like my body caught up to all of the years of working out. While I was in a cast, I gained weight. I got boobs. I got hips.
I went back to the gym after I had healed and suddenly my feet could touch the floor from the balance beam and I realized I had grown a lot in a very short amount of time.
I remember being a kid and really watching the way that my mom ate.
She did Weight Watchers all the time where she would cook our family a dinner, but then she would just eat a little bowl of cottage cheese. I realized that we, as women, are supposed to be different. We're not supposed to eat the way other people eat.
It was never intentional. My mom is amazing. But seeing her constantly on a diet created this idea that we need to be dieting. So, when I caught up with my body, got boobs, got hips, got my period, finally, when I was 16 ½, I realized, “Holy crap, I need to control my body. I want to be skinny again. I want to get back.”
Following my gymnastics career, I became a diver. I dove through all four years of college. Again, I was stuck in spandex every single day of my life with my body on display. Going to college, I gained a lot of weight and it just was such a struggle.
Looking through the last 10 years of my life, I believed that lie that you have to “shed for the wedding.” I was so tiny on my wedding day, I remember barely eating before it and then being so excited about my honeymoon because I could eat again.
A lot of these unhealthy behaviors followed me into my twenties. I think that when you're a kid you're like, “Someday I'm going to figure this out and this is going to be normal and I’m not going to be dieting and I'm not going to have disordered eating.” But I think that as women it follows us as long as we let it.
When we were married for about five years, we decided we wanted to start a family. That really started my journey with my body because we suffered through two miscarriages, two in two years.
And I hated my body. I was so mad. I was blaming myself for the loss. I thought I did something wrong. That was when I really disconnected from my body intentionally because it didn't feel like home anymore.
The last two years have been so hard, but they've also been probably the most healing years because I've really had to pursue that relationship and what it looks like. I've decided to share that journey with the world, which for better or for worse, has been an adventure. It’s something that I feel is never a destination that I'll reach, but something I'm working towards.
ALLIE: Yeah. I love that about you. We were talking a little before we recorded about some of the comments and messages that we see. It's like, “Okay, what is going to happen if I share this thing, this big controversial thing I'm going through?” I respect you for that so much.
I want to say when you were talking about disconnecting from your body intentionally, I love that you admitted that. For my own self, I've had miscarriages as well, but with my children being born, they all - no matter how much I tried - I did so many things to try to have natural deliveries and I ended up with cesareans for all four of them. And there's this war that you may find, soon, that is this war of womanhood and strength that “I did it and it was so beautiful and empowering” and I'm just kind of here like, “okay.”
I really beat myself up for not being able to. I mean, getting sawed in half is hard to, but I'd beat myself up. I definitely disconnected from my body after the third time and I got depressed. I really had a hard time with what my body had failed to do and it felt like it betrayed me. I feel like that's kind of in the same wheelhouse as what you were describing. What's wrong with me if you're not gonna do what you're supposed to do?
I stopped taking care of myself. I just didn't care anymore. Recently, over the last maybe couple of years, it's been this journey of “Well, what would happen if I accepted my body, loved it and took good care of it instead of worrying, obsessing? I just love that you exude that.
You recently went viral for your Instagram post, which I understand. I’ve shared it and you’re probably tired of talking about it. It was about being married to this super muscular fit, health-conscious hubby of yours, and that for a while enhanced your insecurities in a lot of ways. Can you tell us a little bit about that part and how you've overcome that and where you're at now?
JENNA: My husband is awesome. He's so freaking handsome and we've been together for the last 10 years. The crazy thing that I think of is we met in our teens and now we're 30 and to see the different journeys we've been on, both together and separately, has just been crazy. My husband kind of got coined the term within our friend group as “Mr. Six Pack,” which is hilarious because he's so much more than just the six pack. But it's true. This man has abs for days.
And so, one thing that I've really struggled with is I went from being an athlete my whole life to not knowing where my identity lied. Then my identity got wrapped up in being this business owner, which means sitting behind a computer for long days and really glorifying that “busy.”
I look at my husband and the way that he treats his body, the way that he works out, the way that he prioritizes and I don't have that strength. I will not eat a Kale smoothie for breakfast no matter what you put in it. And so, I've always felt this guilt around it because he is just so routinized and so clear on what he wants and what he does. And I feel like I'm that way with my business, but I'm not that way with my health.
And so, when you put your life out there - and for us, we are in Hawaii part of the year living in swimsuits - I write this narrative in my head that, “you are not worthy to be with this man.” I tell myself that as we're walking along the beach, people are judging me and wondering what he sees in me.
And these are all narratives that are not true. People probably don't even glance twice at us. But I think that all of us as women can relate, that we're telling ourselves these stories that are the worst stories we've ever been told. And we're living in these narratives that are just cycling over and over and over again until we really believe that that's our truth.
And so, when a stranger slid into my DMs and brought up that question of, “why do you deserve a man that looks like that?” it just brought everything back to me of the story that I've been telling myself. It tricked me into thinking that if she's thinking that, how many other people are thinking that?
When I posted about it, I truthfully didn't think anything of it. I like to call out the haters, and just really shed some truth and spread some grace for people that like to slide into DMs. So, it wasn't anything out of the ordinary.
But what I think became of it is that so many women, whether we're telling ourselves that we're not worthy because of the amount of money he makes or the way he looks, or the way that he provides, or whatever that story is, we can all relate on some level of just not feeling worthy.
Going viral is the craziest experience of our lives. It was something you cannot prepare for and cannot prepare for the aftermath of it.
All in all, we're really thankful that it was a positive story with a positive look at marriage because I think that our culture really needs it.
ALLIE: I want to know how you would answer this question that came in when I poled everybody, which I love. And it was, “How do we find that balance between loving ourselves and our bodies and still keeping the motivation to be healthy and make positive changes because, sometimes the fact is you just don't feel very good, and you want to make those positive changes without getting super down on ourselves. How do you kind of balance that?
JENNA: I love this question because I think that one of the biggest misconceptions about body positivity is that you’re content or complacent and I don't think that body positivity is either of those things. What I've worked so hard to do is to honor my body, fuel it and not punish it. I think that for so long I looked at working out as this way to punish myself for the food I ate or for the exercise that I didn't do. I looked at food not as fuel, but either as a coping mechanism or a way to hold myself back and prove that I have self-control.
It was this really unbalanced relationship with both and becoming kind of a figure in the “curvy world,” which I'm a size 10 so I'm really not plus size and I'm really not that straight size. I'm very in the middle.
I want people to know that just because I'm in this place of being a curvy woman, I am still working to be the healthiest version of myself.
When we went through our fertility stuff, I had to eliminate gluten from my diet. I had to watch caffeine. I had to make a lot of lifestyle changes. But when I was looking at them it wasn't as a diet, it was, “How can I fuel my body in a way that actually gives me energy,” and kind of changing all of that.
I think that there is a way to love yourself just as you are. I think deep down in our guts we all know what the best version of ourselves would be like, what that homeostasis feels like, when we feel most energized. I think that we all need to move towards that and not a number on the scale or a number on our pant size.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And I think too, accepting your body for all that it’s done for you. Even if there have been “failures” or “disappointments” like miscarriage and c-sections and things not going the way you wanted. Besides from having babies, even health stuff.
I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17 and that was the first time I remember feeling like, “Well, this sucks.” Surgeries and needed things like that just accepting it and thinking, “Okay, how can I respond to what my body is telling me that it needs in a way that will fuel it and energize it, instead of just hating on it.” It's so sad how natural that is though, how natural it is to go that way.
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ALLIE: I think we understand like the idea of accepting your body for what it's done for you and loving it for that, but what does it look like to actually do that? To change that narrative? I almost think of it like affirmations. It feels kind of funny to stand there and say, “I am beautiful. You look great girl.” How do I actually do that?
JENNA: Well I think something that I struggle with in the body positivity movement is that people are trying to sell it like it’s this sweater you can buy and put it on and suddenly you feel great. But for those of us who are being warriors in this, it is choices every single day, and a struggle every single day.
To be honest, I think it is the hardest journey I've ever been on, harder than building a business or suffering loss. Choosing to really figure out “What does coming home to my body look like?” And then “How do I choose that every day?”
Even today I was on a walk with our dogs. I haven't been working out like I normally have and I looked down at my legs and I thought, “These legs are strong; they are carrying this.”
For me it's been a lot of dressing for the way that I am right now, not the way that I want to be or the way that I should be. Getting clothes that I feel good in and that I'm not hiding in. That has been huge. I think that so many of us hide or we try to hide these areas of our body.
When I started to look and say, “I want to feel good, therefore I need to buy clothes that make me feel good and clothe myself in them.” That's been a big thing. I think not looking for other people's approval in that and doing the hard, inner work that's necessary to get there.
One of my friends Erin, she runs the account, Raw Beauty Talks. It's an awesome account if you're looking for body positivity. She does some online coaching with women. When we went through our second miscarriage, she said, “I feel called that I need to work with you. I really want to give this gift to you.”
I think it was eight weeks, once a week, we would get on the phone and we would talk about things. How do I feel after I binge eat and what are some of these issues that I'm having? Every week I would bawl my eyes out because it was things that were tied so far back in my life that I just haven't wanted to deal with.
And so, I think that with body positivity, it's not just waking up one day and being like, “I am perfect, I am whole, I am complete.” But it's really looking at those limiting beliefs that we've had in our brain and paying attention to that dialogue that we're having with ourselves every single day.
Even today. I put on a Bra. It was too tight. I felt suffocated. And I was like, “Oh my God, I can't do this! Can I go braless? What's going to happen today?”
It's so funny because you have to retrain yourself and say, “It's not because I'm fat; this is my body. I just need to choose something better.” And change those conversations.
But man, it is hard and it is not something you can buy. And it is a choice that you need to dig into some of that hard stuff that you've buried in order to get to where you want to go.
ALLIE: Yeah, absolutely. I've had a hard time with this. I wanted to bring it up because I'm with you. I wouldn't do this with anyone else. I was raised very Christian modesty – “modest is hottest” was the mantra.
I don't need to get into the whole thing. I see the value in that and especially as a teenage girl. But there's this type of swimsuit that I have been wanting to wear so badly and it's super cute. I bought one when I was not taking care of myself and I bought it in a size smaller because I know my “normal” when I'm not binge eating, and it fit and I'm so happy that I got there.
I was going to San Diego for a work trip and I told myself, “I'm going to bring the suit and I'm going to do it. I'm going to put it on. I'm going to feel confident.” It was a one-piece that goes down the upper midriff. I was so excited and I felt so good in it. I thought, “I'm not gonna worry about my thighs touching and rubbing. I'm so excited.”
I felt so beautiful! And right away somebody did an Instagram story and I was in it. I got tagged and then I immediately received a message from somebody and they said, “I just want you to know that I'm unfollowing you because you're a fellow Christian and you’re being so slutty and immodest and embarrassing.” And I went into myself like, “Oh my gosh.”
And I was going on Instagram to check something while I was out at the pool with my friends and I saw it there and I just was like, “Oh my gosh.”
It just broke me.
I don't even know what my question is here, but what would you have to say about the way women talk to each other? I know that that must have come from something in her, and not about me because “you do you” and like, “leave me alone?” If you don't like that, then don't wear it.
It was this shaming and the way she said it. The words she used were so cutting. And it really brought me down. I'm over it now, but at the time it just sliced me.
What can we do to encourage others and how can we change this? Do you know what I mean?
JENNA: Oh yeah. I had somebody a while ago say, “We talked about you at our Bible study and we don't believe you're a real Christian because no real Christian would show up online in a bra and underwear that is only for your husband.”
It’s things like that where especially when faith gets pulled in that it's like, “Holy cow, this is way deeper than just calling somebody fat or whatever you want to do.”
But for me it's been this journey of understanding that I have a very limited amount of energy and where can I put that? People don't talk about it, but if you get one bad comment and a thousand good ones, you will remember verbatim that bad comment for the rest of your life. We remember things from our childhood that we hold on to. That’s the way that our brain works because it's something we think we should fix.
Going viral, our bodies are talked about. My marriage is talked about. My husband is talked about. Our lives are being talked about by people who don't know us, who don't follow us, who don't care about our mission.
But I think too, it was so cool. Yesterday I posted something on Instagram and all these people are commenting on it. Then all of the comments started becoming this encouragement factor of other followers encouraging other followers.
We have to lead by example. I think that as women we're taught that other women are competition. For me, I check out more women than I check out men, and I'm a straight female, because I'm constantly sizing myself up against them. “Oh, my arms are bigger than hers, but my waist is smaller than hers” because that's what we're taught.
We look at magazines; we look at advertisements. We look at the way that the media tells us what we need to be.
When it comes to women cutting other women, I always respond to those. I know you shouldn't. I know you should let the haters hate. But to me, there is something deeper going on and it's my job to say, “I recognize that you're hurting because you're trying to hurt me and I just want to pray for you.”
Sometimes people turned it around and some are like, “nope, still hate you,” and you're like, “all right, letting you go.”
I think that we, as women, we carry so much baggage.
When I was working with Erin, she asked me, “Which parts of your body hurt?” I said, “My shoulders are really sore.” And she said, “It's because you're carrying so much weight.” I think that we have to learn how to remove those bags and really figure out what's worth carrying with us.
It's generally not those comments, but hey, that is some freaking hard work that nobody talks about.
ALLIE: Yeah, for sure. It's enough to make you want to think maybe this whole blog thing isn’t worth it. Pack it up; I’m done. It's so terrible.
And like you said, when the faith is brought into it, it’s invasive and incredibly hurtful.
My last question for you is in the realm of motherhood and what our bodies go through. On your personal note, you've had miscarriages. You're currently pregnant. Your body goes through so much, no matter how far into the pregnancy you get. With whatever changes you've seen in yourself, how do you mentally, I guess, treat that type of change? Because it's really out of your control, but it changes it so much. What is your mindset with that?
JENNA: Both times we were pregnant and miscarried, we made it to 10 weeks. I was so angry because in a year's time I'd been pregnant for 20 weeks with nothing to show. And ya’ll know, the first few weeks suck. I was so frustrated. I gained weight. My boobs were fluctuating like crazy. I was angry because I had gone through all of this. Then you have the physical reminders of what is no longer. It was this battle of up and down, and up and down.
Now that we're pregnant again and I have been so sick and so it's been really hard. And the thing that drives me bananas about this is I am so thankful, but this has been hard.
And as somebody who loves to go a million miles a minute, being forced to literally slow down to nothing has been a challenge.
I am super thankful to be partnering with some different companies like Aerie throughout my pregnancy to show the transformation that our bodies go through. But to talk about it because already, I mean my boobs are giant and it's changing everything. My pants don't fit. You go through these narratives in your head of, “Do I really need to buy another size up?” “What does this look like?”
My body is never going to be the same and it doesn't belong to me anymore. And it's just so crazy.
I think one of the most beautiful things is nowadays I think that we're finally going in a direction where people are being more honest about your body post baby.
There are some amazing celebrities leading the way, like Jessie James Decker. That woman is awesome, just posting her postpartum body and saying this is what it looks like. This is what's going on. And there have been some campaigns that really walks through that.
I think as a woman it's our greatest gift and we recognize that, but it's also like we're being robbed of who we are and where our identity lies. We're really being challenged. Can I love myself through this? Can I love my body through this? Knowing that my body will never be the same, can I still come home to it?
I don't have the answers on that yet. I don't know. My belly button is getting stretched right now. I feel like I don't even know what it's going to look like after this whole ordeal is done.
I'm actually really excited to share this journey with women and to talk through it because it's going to be a bumpy road literally with cellulite and all those things. But it is such a blessing. I think that it's going to be another hard thing that we’ve got to go through together.
ALLIE: Yeah, for sure. And I think it's ridiculous that there's been so many years, decades even, of hiding what happens after you have a baby. We can't do anything about it. You can rub lotions and coconut oil and all these things and it doesn't matter.
I didn't have any of those “pregnancy things” until my third, who ended up being the largest baby born in our state without pregnancy issues. I had no diabetes and he was 11 pounds. I remember coming to after the surgery and saying, “why is there a toddler nursing on me” and my husband cracked up.
He wrecked me. I had hanging skin from being stretched so far. I swore the whole time he was twins. “I'm telling you they’re wrong. There’s two in there.” And there basically was.
I had that hanging skin, that “mom pouch.” I remember feeling like I needed to hide it and being in a wedding right after he was born and wearing double Spanx sweating to death. I don't remember anything about my best friend's wedding except that I was miserable because I wanted to look good.
I just had my third baby who broke records. I think I can have pouch.
It's so sad and I just think it's so ridiculous. I love women like you who are saying, even outside of pregnancy, just with our bodies period, that this is BS.
This is how it goes. We can't really do much about it. And you can take care of yourself and energize yourself, but it is what it is sometimes. We shouldn’t be having to hide it or wear pants at the beach because we're embarrassed. It's a joke.
So, thank you for what you do. It's so important.
Okay guys, we're going to let Jenna go. I am going to link to everything. I would assume you're going to point everyone to Instagram to find you?
JENNA: Yeah. Just hop on over there @JennaKutcher. I'm doing a lot of really fun body positivity and just real talks about body stuff over on my feed. It's my favorite work to do because I think it's the most needed work in this world. So, join me over there.
Thank you so much for having me, Allie.
ALLIE: Yeah, sure. Thank you so much!
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See ya next time!
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