Wednesday, June 27, 2012


I have to post about something serious today. Something that's been on my mind for a long time. Something that might offend people. This is not my intention. But regardless of the reaction it may produce, it needs to be said.

Are you all on Pinterest? Of course I am. I've even poked fun at it from time to time. And while I think some pins are downright stupid, others ... they kind of hurt to look at.

Since this is a family blog and I know some of my readers would object to their children seeing pictures like the ones I'm about to discuss, I'll only post one. A tame one in comparison to the rest.

Question: Where is her face???

If you're on Pinterest, you've seen plenty of pictures just like this one -- decapitated and focused on some perfect and unrealistic body part. Her abs. Her boobs. Her legs. Toned, tan and hairless.

But no face.

We can't see if she's happy or sad. We can't see the windows to her soul -- her eyes. Why?

The captions which accompany these pictures also bother me:

"I'd DIE to look like this!"

"Most amazing boobs ever!"

"I HAVE to have her legs."

I've noticed a new phenomenon regarding thinness as well -- it's now disguised as "healthy." "Fit." "In shape." And the implication is there -- if you don't look like this faceless model who probably has a personal trainer and works out several hours a day, you are UNhealthy. You are NOT fit. You are OUT OF SHAPE.

For centuries, we've blamed the media for all our unhealthy body image problems. We're starving ourselves, working out to death and risking our lives under the knife because of Angelina Jolie. Paris Hilton. Katy Perry. Kate Middleton. Those impossibly beautiful women plastered on our magazines, running around on our televisions and popping up on our home pages.

But really, are they to blame? Or are we? After all, we're the ones who accept their bodies as the standard. We're the ones adding dehumanizing pictures like the one I posted to our Pinterest boards. We're the ones perpetuating lies to ourselves and others, saying, "My boobs aren't big/round/perky enough." "My hips are too wide." "My skin is all stretched out and ruined." "I'm too pale." "My hair is too frizzy." "My face is covered in acne." "I'm too fat." "I jiggle too much."

Guess what? I'm guilty of saying or thinking all of those things. I took them straight from my internal dialogue and pasted them here. I hope you don't think I'm trying to preach because I already have a perfect body image. Truth is, I don't. I'm working on it.

I will say, though, my body image suffers most after I look at pictures like those shown above. I start loathing my stretch marks, cursing my abdomen, shunning my boobs and freaking out about every zit that pops up on my face. That voice creeps into my head and says, "You're not good enough."

Then, I go to playgroup with some of my gorgeous, healthy and vibrant mommy friends and they're all saying the exact same thing: "I'm not good enough." It hurts.

Today, I am saying ENOUGH. Enough of this negative self-talk. Enough of the idealization of the impossible.

The self-deprecating dialogue? It's exhausting. It's painful. It's depressing. How do you feel after spending a few minutes scrutinizing yourself in the mirror? I personally feel like crap. I get a stomach ache, I feel stressed out and I lose all hope. It takes several hours to recover and days before I can look at myself without seeing all my imperfections.

Not to mention, I have children now. Specifically, I have a daughter. A daughter who sees herself in the mirror and loves everything about her body. Her sparkly blue eyes. Her waist-long blond hair. Her cherubic cheeks. Her above-average height. She dances, she plays, she runs. She laughs out loud and sings at the top of her lungs. She loves herself. And if I heard her talking about herself the way I sometimes talk about MYself ... it would break my heart cleanly in two.

It's time to embrace TRUE health, not the false health portrayed by those sultry, oiled-up and surgically-enhanced models. True health is eating a balanced diet (and consuming enough daily calories, for that matter). True health is exercising to clear the mind, to get the heart pumping, to exert the muscles, to meditate and enjoy nature. True health is spending time doing good, enjoying the company of loved ones, enriching the mind with good literature, creating beauty and developing your talents. True health is knowing your purpose and potential and living up to it. True health is enjoying the present instead of killing yourself for an uncertain future.

True health is treating ourselves and others as human beings as children of God. Not as faceless, nameless bodies that either hit the mark or don't. (They usually don't.)

You are ENOUGH. Believe it.

Now, here's something worth pinning:


  1. jenna, this was wonderful. you're right. everything you said. amen.
    that's all i can say. amen and thank you.

  2. I agree Jenna, I hate when people pin those pictures. And I can't help but laugh when the next pin they post is some decadent dessert.

    If people could just understand that happiness isn't exercising until you are ripped or overindulging on desserts. Happiness is being kind to your body, in all forms. Happiness to me is feeling well enough to take care of my family and enjoy life.

  3. Beautiful! I've been trying to do the same. I want my daughter to always lover herself, I want to teach her to be healthy and active because it's good for her not because she needs to be like the faceless girl to be liked.

  4. I'm so glad people are starting to speak up about this and that I'm not the only one! Those pictures really bother me. You said it in such a good way!
    My friend said her mom used to always look in the mirror and put herself down and now all the daughters do the exact same thing. I really don't want that to happen to my kids.
    Check this out:

  5. My Dear Jenna friend,
    THANK YOU!!! I know we have had many many conversations about how i feel about my body and our similarities, and the disappointments i feel about myself, my body and my image. Thank you for reminding me that I am good enough despite what pinterest tells me. :-)

  6. You must have read my blot post! :) I think we all needed this reminder!

  7. Great post! So true, thanks for the reminder.

  8. great post! i have yet to make a pinterest account because i have no interest in the "internet keeping up with the jones'". i am all about health and fitness and working out only so i can eat whatever i want and be happy doing so! life is too short to be stressing about silly stuff like having the perfect body and what you don't have. so over it. im personally going to let my house go to crud today and just play all day with my babes.

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  10. This is wonderful! I just got your comment on my fitspiration article at Beauty Redefined and had to check out your thoughts. Thankfully, your insight echoes lots of other women's frustrations about all of this faux-health, basically "thinspiration" stuff floating around the Web, and especially on Pinterest. If we remain focused on achieving these (headless, digitally altered) physical ideals that are only achievable for a tiny percentage of the population, we'll never achieve real health, fitness or happiness because it'll always be out of reach and entirely misguided. Thank you for speaking up and for being such a wonderful example to your daughter and your readers!

  11. amen. i hope every mom out there reads this, or somehow comes to the same conclusion. i don'[ think we realize how much we shape the way our children look at body image. if our children (especially our daughters) grow up hearing us criticize ourselves, what will that do for their body image and self worth? It starts with us, we can change the next generation.

  12. You took the words right out of my mouth!

  13. You took the words right out of my mouth!

  14. Thank you, Jenna!! This is seriously amazing. I'm sure you know, having gone to school for broadcasting (which is what I'm finishing up at ASU right now) that body image can suffer BIG time in that industry. But that's when we need to take the biggest stand and say, "No, I will not accept your standard of 'perfection' but I will be the best version of me that I can."

  15. Love it!!! Thanks for reminding me of a more confident self I haven't seen in a few months. I say we create a blog button, " i am ENOUGH" :) and spread the word. Love ya !!!

  16. I am so guilty of pinning these photos. However it is usually for the information that is found on the website it is attached to or for motivation. I never thought about the facelessness or the fact that the body I see in the photo is unattainable to me. I just want to feel like that I can change what I see in the mirror and that I don't have to be the unhealthy me that I am. I don't need a photo of perfection to know when I look in the mirror that I am unhealthy.

    I do wholeheartedly agree with you that we should should strive for health for health's sake first and foremost and that we shouldn't hate ourselves for what we look like. I have a beautiful little 2 year old daughter and I would hate it if she felt like I feel about myself sometimes.

  17. I just love this so much! You eloquently wrote things I've felt on a daily basis. Thank you!

  18. Those fitness pins annoy me to no end. As someone with healthy body-image, I sincerely pity those who think they have to look like that to feel good about themselves. I don't work out regularly, I could stand to use 5 lbs, my face isn't as clear as I'd like.
    But I DON'T CARE. My smile attracts more friends than my boobs or a tan. My personality is what keeps people around - not my weight.

    I wish more women felt like you & me....

  19. I think the recent advice of "STOP IT!" works in this case too. Recently I started running again. I am not a 'RUNNER', I have decided not to tell friends or family about it because I want to do this for me, so I feel better, so my body works better. I do not have ANY ideas that i will get super skinny or anything--because I am as little as I think my body can go. But I too am surrounded by women friends who are obsessed with how they look. It is a terrible thing to feel that we are somehow unworthy of life, love, and general happiness.

    Thanks for writing about this--I'm there with you.

  20. I think I am the lone woman disagreeing here. I'll probably get flamed by people, but whatever, I'll still post my opinion.

    I have a fitness board and while I haven't looked at it in months, I still feel for me, it is a necessary source of inspiration. I looked back at my board and saw not skinny models, but for the most part FIT women. So maybe I'm in the minority of the typical "fitness" pinner you're referring to (who posts photos of skinny fashion models/celebs, I presume?), but in no way do I see these pins as the "idealization of the impossible." That photo you picked out to show is a perfect example. In no way shape or form did her body come from being under the knife, but from good, solid hard WORK. Does that mean her body is the ideal? No, it just means that she put her time and energy into something that was important to them, that may be less important to me or someone else (like you said, family, etc). I've never felt like a lesser person when viewing those boards or pins.

    I guess I disagree with statements saying that women like Katy Perry and Kate Middleton are forcing us to "starve ourselves, work out to death and risk our lives under the knife." Personally, those women seem the most "normal" to me, not overly skinny, just healthy normal women. So I may have view those women differently than you.

    I've slowly transformed my body over the past few years since coming home from my mission. People wouldn't tell me I was fat (because I wasn't), but I didn't feel the best (health not being able to exercise like I use to, used to a diet of beans, rice and tortillas everyday and being addicted to soda/caffeine since that's all we were given by people). So I made a goal to fix it. It's been nearly 2 years and my motivations has come in spurts, but by running, working out, and lifting numerous weights. I can now say that my body is actually starting to look like some of those pictures on my fitness board: lean, muscular and super fit. Do I watch what I eat? Yes, for the most part. Obsessively? No. I still drink milkshakes, eat fried chicken and eat carbs daily (well not the milkshakes and fried chicken daily, but I do occasionally indulge). I look at those pictures I pinned now and realize that those VISUAL goals or motivation were possible because I WORKED at it. And no, it doesn't take HOURS in a gym. It was a slow process. But is now preparing me for greater athletic endeavors (which are things I value and prize, which others may not).

    Yeah, I'm muscular now and many may not find that attractive. Are visible triceps on a woman "attractive" or what you see in the magazines? I don't know, but that's the way my body has transformed. I may be different from the pinners you're referring to who just post a picture of fitness model saying, "I WANT THAT BUTT." I may have a few pins on there like that, but hey, I have that butt now so I guess it worked? I'm not trying to rub it in; I don't know what it's like yet to have your body transformed in the complete opposite direction by pregnancy and childbirth. I'm just saying that pinning was part of my continual motivation. Although I haven't pinned in months, but I do feel somewhat offended when I read people complaining about these type of pins. Why not just unfollow that persons "fitness" board?

  21. Part 2:

    And to comment on the "lack of face" issue: I know that in the fitness industry, they are able to get the rights to a photograph for MUCH less if the model's face isn't in the picture. That has been common in the fitness industry for years because they are about the body (not the face). It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. I had a friend who was a national aerobics instructor who had a friend who was a fellow instructor who had a killer set of abs (they come with the job teaching aerobics 8+ hours a day). One day my friend was looking at the cover of a spinning magazine and said, "I know those abs!" And it turns out that "those abs" were of her friend, though unfortunately her head had been cut off (essentially so the magazine didn't have to pay her for her likeness) and the abs placed in the forefront. (Is this right? Well, not really. But I'm not here to debate the moral implications of it).

    One website I stumbled upon was the site It's a website of REAL women and what their bodies actually look like. You input your height, weight and body shape and it brings up photos of what REAL women with your same measurements look like. It's actually refreshing. 1) You are able to see a huge range in what people look like, even within the same weight range. It's very interesting! 2) It helps give me reference to my goals. If I want to weight XXX number of pounds, it helps me visualize what that actually will look like. Now yes, this site has headless photos and blacked out faces, but that's to keep the total anonymity of everyone involved.

    I'm not really sure what I was trying to say here, but that some people post those pictures for reasons that aren't degrading. It just comes off that way to others. Should they stop for that reason? I don't know. For this reason I wish Pinterest had private boards. Sorry for essentially writing my own blog post. I just had to share my opinion on the subject. Yay, America.

  22. Healthy body image is what's important. And I think you are and look great!

  23. Test comment. Love Jenna, her opinions and her wonderfully crafted blog. :D

  24. I could not agree more! In fact I posted this on facebook a few weeks ago in response to some friends posts:
    "This whole healthy eating thing has got me thinking.... I really don't see why we care what size people are, I know its unhealthy to be obese and there are things we should be doing for our future health but we focus too much on size these days. If someone is doing their best and are happy, why pick on them and want them to change? I hate hearing others comments about how certain people shouldn't wear bikinis because they don't have the right body for it or how disgusted they are by seeing them in swimsuits in public. If they are comfortable and happy why comment? Do we want to bring others down just so we will feel better about ourselves?
    In a few years it won't be obesity that everyone is worried about it will be anorexia. the more we adults worry about size, count calories and talk about it in front of our kids the more we tell them they are not good enough. More and more children are concerned about weight younger and younger. I know kids who are worried about going on diets at 6 or 7. What kind of an example are we setting for them? I'm tired of Movie stars, news broadcast's and the people around us telling us what we should look like. Do your best to be healthy and teach your kids how to be happy with who they are, no matter the size."

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  26. I definitely can relate to both morgan and jenna's views. When I was starting to lose weight after I had my son I would look at those fit stomach pictures everyday and that was my motivation! Now that I'm 5 pounds away from my goal weight and having to try so hard to get there and failing week after week it hurts now to look at those pictures. I now see them and think "you're never gonna look this good" It's ironic that jenna posted this because I just thought a couple days ago "im sick of degrading myself so much" what's wrong with having a little love on my sides? It feels good to just love your body the way it is!

    I am starting insanity workouts tonight and maybe one day I'll look at those pictures again and think "they look great and I look great too"

    Thanks Jenna for posting this blog post. I started getting down on myself again today and you definitely lifted my spirits :)

  27. I agree. I wish people would drop the
    "health" charade. Those photos do not define health for most normal adults. Those photos are "thin" women with "perfect parts" and so when people carry on about being healthy, it is just code for looking "like that", which most people will never be able to do based upon body type, genetics, bone structure, and healthy fat distribution.
    I'm fairly content with my body, it's been good to me. I am working to lower my body fat in order to protect my knees as I have a history of knee injury and extra weight is no bueno in that circumstance.
    So, when I see those pins I roll my eyes, and sometimes I feel sad when I read the harsh encouragements typed onto the photos. Not sad for myself, but sad for people who really buy into that and berate themselves or pick up demeaning thought processes in order to guilt/shame themselves into compliance in order to be "sexy thin." It is sad. I enjoyed your thoughts.

  28. Thank you for writing this post! It is excatly what I needed, espically after delivering my twins. I've been trying to get to pre-pregnancy shape instead of healthy shape which means I was hungry around 2pm which correlated with grumpiness. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can't say it enough!

  29. Great points here. I hate the faceless photos thing. On the other side (but a similar issue), I noticed that the news will often run stories on "scientists did a new study that found out that we are all too fat" and then they cut off their heads/faces and focusing on jiggling midsections. How mortifying would it be to recognize yourself on the news that way? "Hey, I have a shirt just like tha -- what in the world?? Why am I on the news for being FAT???" (OR do they get their permission first? I can't imagine how awkward that conversation would be.)

  30. I agree with you 200%. I also laugh when I see a pin like you posted here and then next to it a pin about dessert. We just can't have it both ways. Everyone's body is different, people age, things change- we have to get over it.

  31. Well said! It's really sad how badly women beat ourselves up (me included) about our image. Once I realized that EVERY woman has insecurities, I started feeling better about my own. Just because someone I consider to be beautiful, doesn't mean she is completely confident and carefree. We're all in this together. :)


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