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Love, Gen: Let’s Celebrate Body Positivity This May

Gen_Padalecki_BreastFeeding

My hands and my breasts.

They’re the two parts of my body that—even on mornings when I look like garbage and the kids are throwing tantrums—I can say without an ounce of hesitation that I love. It’s taken me a long time to get there, but it’s because my hands remind me of the three babies I’ve held, of holding Jared’s hands on our wedding day, of the meals I’ve cooked for my family. And my breasts, well, had you shown me a picture in my 20s what they’d look like at 37, I’d probably be surprised. They may not be what they used to be, but they’re reminders of my life’s milestones and markers, and all the things I’ve gained—three beautiful kids and a wonderful husband. Having fed my children with them, my breasts empower me, and these days I can embrace them fully for it.

Maybe this is TMI, but I’m telling you all of this because I’m fascinated by how the things we love about our bodies change—and our confidence changes, too—as we move through life. That’s why this May I’m focusing my energy on body positivity and how we can all be even just a tiny bit happier and more confident in our own skin.

Look, I’ve got my hang-ups too. I have a love-hate relationship with my stomach. I work hard for my body but I’ll never look like I did before children. And I do hear every now and again: “Your body looks great…for having three kids!” As women, our bodies are susceptible of judgement from strangers, family, even friends. After kids, are we just supposed admit defeat and let ourselves go? Or do we use our beautifully aging bodies as our own internal GPS system, navigating where we can show up for ourselves, invest in our self-care, and prove to the universe that we love ourselves enough to carve 60 minutes of “me-time” every day to go for a run, even if our babies come along for the jog?

At 37, I’m asking more questions about self-love and how that plays in with my relationship to my body and myself. In my 20’s, it was easy to take time for myself, but as a mother, I can’t help but feel selfish if I want to run to a workout, a massage or just some quality “me time.” We’re told that we’re selfish if we take that time each day to connect with our bodies. But is it really self-involved to love ourselves enough, so that we can show up and be better for our families, our husbands, and our friends?

I don’t think so. One of the truly great things about getting older is that I can embrace the fact that being sexy doesn’t have to be about being a perfect 10, putting on a ton of makeup, or having perfect breasts: sexy is about being confident in our journey to becoming whole. I actually feel my most beautiful in a casual chambray shirt, a good lip balm, and an unapologetic sense of self love. My own personal courage comes with knowing that, contrary to what I have been conditioned to think, my body is not my masterpiece – my life is. My family is. Letting go of the idea that our bodies are the only thing we have to offer the world brings a sense of freedom – and a sense of peace. We are a work in process: no one feels perfect, nobody feels like she completely belongs, and I don’t know one woman (yep, even Oprah) who feels like she’s got it all figured out. So here’s to being messy, and complicated, and afraid, but dancing through the storms and the sunny days anyway.

This month, let’s have some #realtalk about all the things that come along with body image, from intimacy to relationships to embracing your post-baby body. I’m looking forward to diving in with you, because loving yourself is a process. I by no means wake up each day with extraordinary self-esteem, and sometimes it’s the small victories and subtle ways in which we are kind to ourselves that make the difference. All we can do each day is get a little closer to feeling whole, so here’s to getting more confident every day.

 

 
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66 Comments

  • Jadeen

    You are so sexy! Girl like I just need ppl like u in my life. But I want to know about ur workout routine. Also how does ur self love play into ur relationship with Jared. I’m personally learning I need more of that from myself not just physically but emotionally:/ I’ve noticed that self love is a big part in a relationship, which I mean TMI as well, I really need more of in that department:(

  • Lacey

    “We are a work in process: no one feels perfect, nobody feels like she completely belongs.” Beautifully said and a great reminder.

  • Tiana Weicker

    I love this. You inspire me Gen, wether it be cooking, holidays or helping make the world a better place. You encourage me to push and thrive, even when I’m not even out of high school, and to love myself, even though I’m not perfect. Love you!

  • Meriah Brandt

    Read the May body embrace and how I feel. I have one some he is going to be 14 in July. I just turned 40, I am the happiest I have been is so long. Turning 40 changed me I embrace my body, mind a spirit. I am a women who is not perfect and I am good with it. Before I used to constantly compare myself to the younger thinner girls. I’ve finally learn to love me for me. We are all beautiful just need to learn to love ourselves. 🌝

  • Amy

    What a great conversation to have, and thanks for starting it! Loving ourselves and our bodies truly is so important. Although I haven’t had children, at 33 I’ve struggled with weight gain. I’m back on track to getting down to a weight which will enable me to achieve and excel at my goals – run another marathon and become an Ironman athlete. It’ll take time and dedication but I know with a positive outlook I can accomplish anything. I’m really looking forward to your content in May to see what other great topics you have in store for us!

    • Jess

      Thank you so much for posting this Gen! I can’t tell you how much I needed this reminder today. I work as a therapist with women who have trauma and loving yourself is something that regularly comes up. As I enter my second trimester with my first child it’s taking on a different role in my life. I haven’t ever been truly comfortable in my body but as I grow this little human and planning for my family becomes more and more real I needed the reminder that I’m more than the way I feel at a given moment. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Maya

    I love this, because being 17 I sometimes (everyday) hate the way I look, but I’m learning that my image is not everything, and that there is so much more than a perfect body or a pretty face

  • Jam

    I’m really excited for this. Right now I’m not okay with my body, and after read that I’m questioning myself why. Thank you Gen for always make me want change the way I’m living, the way I’m seeing the things.

  • Mónica

    Hey Gen,

    Great post! I agree with you in many points, I am not a mother but have also seen my body change with age. At 34 almost 35, I’m still nowhere close to where I’d like to be but I’m working on embracing my body no matter how it looks. Being confident, loving myself is a journey and it is definitely not a straight line, it goes up and down, up and down, every day I embrace a new part of me and I feel self conscious of a different one but self acceptance and self love in the destination of my journey, not perfection. We live in a society that thinks that it is ok to have an opinion on other people’s bodies and people feel entitled to comment and judge but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is how we feel about ourselves. Of course, it would be great to have a society where women could build each other up, but even if we don’t have that yet, what matters the most is how we see ourselves. I completely embrace the fact that being sexy isn’t about being perfect, I’ve never felt perfect and probably never will but being sexy is something that comes from within and reflects on the outside, it’s about confidence, love, respect for our bodies and our minds, it’s about attitude and personality not about having a perfect body. I understand that specially being a mom, you could feel guilty taking time to take care about yourself but honestly if you don’t do it how can you take care of others. I absolutely loved your post, I love how honest and open you are. Thanks for sharing,

    Monica

  • Sue

    I was chubby all through high school and throughout my 20s. No, not chubby, out of shape. I didn’t exercise regularly, and my eating habits leaned hard toward fried and salty southern food. After experiencing 15 years of infertility, I started eating a healthier diet and doing yoga and Pilates. Not only did my muscle tone and overall health improve, I got pregnant at 37 (after trying since I was 22) and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! I’m happier with myself in my 40s. I’m not as hard on myself, I deeply appreciate the good things (my hair, my skin) and don’t let the “problem” areas (my nose, my stomach) concern me.

    My marriage is even stronger, the sex is even better because we don’t expect it to be magic every time — we laugh more, and explore things we weren’t into when we where younger. Being a mom, being 40+ makes me feel sexier, more connected to my feelings, and more grounded. Feeling sexy in my 40s feels like silk against bare skin — unexpected and luxe.

    Me at 42:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/164332919@N03/shares/46c63h

  • Kelly Denton

    I had my two oldest children when I was 18 and 19, my youngest son when I was 28. I’m 45 yrs old now and it’s taking me a lifetime to love what I see in the mirror. I’m beautiful, I know I am. I don’t have to have anyone tell me, even though my children tell I am all the time. I had a c-section with my oldest son, I was 18 yrs old, I still have the scar, I still hurt from that scar but look what I have from that scar, but honestly I don’t look at it has a ugly line along my stomach, I look at it has I gave life from that scar, I may never have the body I had when I was younger, that’s ok because I know who I am, I know when I look at my two sons and my beautiful daughter, that I would go through that transformation over again.

  • Rhonda

    For the last year and a half I’ve committed to an exercise routine for the first time in my life – swimming 3 or 4 times a week. I haven’t lost a pound, but my arms and upper back are stronger than they’ve ever been, and I can swim 1250 metres in 45 minutes. At 50, I can handle a few extra pounds in exchange for stronger and healthier. Thanks for your insight and self-love advice 🙂

  • Jenn

    Loving my body is something that I have struggled with most of my life. I am severely obese so loving my body is very hard. Does getting around and doing everyday tasks hard? Yes, but I have been living with this for 30+ years. I would love to be able to go for a run, have children, or even be in an intimate relationship with a handsome man. But I was not designed that way. I am learning to accept that.

  • Jodi Zulueta

    Dear Gen,

    Thank you for this. I’m a 47 year old mom of 4 – ages 30, 15, 13, and 12.

    My body – sigh. I jokingly (half jokingly) refer to it as a train wreck. I have struggled with body image for a very long time.

    I’m a jewelry designer that travels extensively for my business so finding that time for myself to not only take care of myself physically, but decompress mentally is so difficult but I do know it’s necessary.

    It’s so refreshing to hear I’m not the only one who struggles with body image and equating with how I feel about myself in general.

    You’ve brought up many great thinking points and I thank you for the candor and honesty of sharing such a personal subject.

    Kindest regards,

    Jodi

  • Gifs Dee & Gen

    I leave here my applause to your attitude, we love the real, real women is a true work of art, the natural is and always will be the most beautiful, your courage inspires me every day, I am very happy to see powerful women declare love the real things of life , that show us that we can also be powerful and I thank you for it! 👏👏❤

  • Gifs Dee & Gen

    My powerful, brilliant, inspiring girl! 👏👏👏❤❤❤❤

  • Kathy

    Gen,
    I have to say this is a Brilliant idea because not only is this something young girls face but us older ladies too. I’m 36 was married for 11 years to a man who didn’t love and treasure me like he should have. I turned my back on my faith and settled for a life that wasn’t going anywhere. It was Feb 3,2015 when he said that we should get divorced and it hit me hard but at the same time it didn’t. I let myself go and didn’t even try and take care of myself because my self worth was gone. I can blame him for alot of it but there is my part to blame too. So I call that day the moment God stepped in and set me free. Now 3 years later I can say that my spirit is stronger and my self worth continues to rise. I know everyone’s story isn’t like mine but I do have a huge heart to help others in any way I can. I say let’s crack this world of being who we are wide open because we all need to love ourselves. Yes I’m like you waking up everyday feeling fantastic doesn’t happen often. I do believe that if you keep walking forward and doing something for yourself each day will make huge difference in the long run. Gen,if you want me to help in any way let me know because helping others helps me.

  • Brenna

    Body positivity is always important. As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder and made it out on the other side I feel very grateful. This part of mental health is underfund and is considered unimportant and I hope everyone can share their experiences

  • Suzanne Lopez-Calleja

    I truly appreciate your words and I agree with so much of what you write. I love all my faults and I am proud of the way I raised my kids, nurtured my marriage and carved out the 60 minutes to myself, either through working out, therapy, volunteering or girls night out. Sometimes it is hard to rise above but with each step I take, I know I am evolving for the better. At 51 I feel the sexiest that I have felt in my life and I am so enjoying my sons, my husband, family and friends more than ever. Xo, Suzanne

  • Elena becker

    The struggle is so real for all women. I struggle daily with my body image and the changes that have occurred bc of having kids and now Lupus. Everything is affected by my illness and it just makes life harder when all you feel is ugly and tired 🙁

  • Kate

    Beautifully said Gen. at 37, I’m wondering how I got to where my body is. I use to be a size 4, with great perky breasts. Now im a 12 with huge DD breasts. I get so worried that my husband ( who is amazing) will stop being attracted sexually to me. But it’s so hard being a busy shift worker (12hr shifts, night and day) .

  • Alesia

    I’ve been a big girl most of my life and I’m over 50. It took me a long time to come to grips with my body, but beauty is something that comes from within, I believe that being kind is being beautiful. I believe that every woman is beautiful, in her own sense. I’ve seen women with hair that I would die to have, with skin so beautiful, with a size 2 body, and yet inside they are shallow, and mean. And I’ve seen women like myself but maybe I’m a larger side, but don’t have a lot of beauty products, or fancy clothes, but they smile and you see the goodness of their heart when they’re showing kindness to others. I love that. You Gen have it, your beauty comes from within. And that makes you absolutely ravishing on the outside. And I think you look great, both pre baby and post babies. your smile, the love that shines in your eyes when you look at your babies, and husband. And the way you hold yourself with the confidence, if someone who is truly happy. You inspire me everyday.♡♡♡♡

  • April Achord

    I love this! Very inspiring. I am 37 and pregnant with my fourth child. This speaks to exactly what I am struggling with. Accepting your body is hard for sure, but you are so right about the journey that made it what it is. Thank you for being open, honest, and starting a dialogue we all need to have with ourselves!

  • Shannon

    My family and others pity me. I used to pretend they didn’t. Now, it’s frustrating and obvious. To explain… I have a hate-hate relationship with my stomach. Because of Crohn’s disease and surgeries, I cannot have children. Of all the possible reasons for fertility issues, scar tissue from surgeries never occurred to me. I would like to foster, but have had difficulty finding a job in my field (museum and nonprofit education). Time is flying by (I’ll be 44 this summer), but I’m holding onto that goal. I’d also like to find someone to share my life with. In the meantime, I love my arms for the hugs and comfort they’ve given and my hands which have shown people new ways to look at art, history, and other humans (and animals! I taught at our zoo for a while). I have made a difference in others lives, now I need to work a little harder on my own. Life passes by in an instant and I have a tendency to run on autopilot way too often. It’s time to wake up. It’s harder than it sounds!
    Thanks for asking and please give your kids an extra hug for me.

  • Alesha

    Oh yes. That famous line. You look great…for having three kids. It’s kind of like an unintended backhanded compliment. But why can’t it just be “You look great!” I never imagined when I was 22, staring into the mirror at all of the things I percieved as imperfections in my body, that I’d one day spend a lot of time missing that same 22 year old skin. It took me a long time to realize that the 30-something skin was even better than the 22 year old skin, because of all the stories that came along with it. This stretchmark was the result of a healthy baby steadily growing into the little person around whom my live revolves. If I’d never gotten this cesarean scar, I’d be missing out on the little guy who gives me the world’s best cookie smile. These scars are stories. These lines on my face are from laughter from a hundred nights spent with people I love more than anything. All of these things have come together to make me a real, live, complete and interesting person with a lot to offer. I’ve gained lines and droops, sure. But I’ve also gained strength, and wisdom, and confidence in my own abilities. And that makes me beautiful. That makes us ALL beautiful and worthwhile and desireable. Sometimes castles look better with the ivy that grows over time. 😉

    This is such a great entry, Gen. Loved it. Thanks for sharing and for giving us a place to sound off about things that are important.
    Oh. And also, You Look Great. <3

  • Carly

    Thank you for sharing! I’m 17, about to graduate high school, and it’s really hard sometimes (high school’s rough)! I want to thank you and Danneel for being such amazing role models that I can look up to. I’m currently going GF for the week and absolutely loving your meal plan- everything’s so tasty! Love your blog and keep up the good work!

  • Sara Wilson

    I love when I see women who are so beautiful in my eyes admit their vulnerability when it comes to things like this. I’ve struggled so hard with my post baby body. It’s not even guilt that keeps me from my goals, but a sense of exhaustion, and perhaps a little defeat. I’m normally such a confident person that it’s almost hard to admit that. I’m trying very hard to make this the year that I take back control and stop viewing my body as the enemy, but instead worship it for all the amazing things it has accomplished and treating it the way it deserves!

  • Lizzie C

    This is such an important conversation to have and I’m glad you’re using your platform to initate one. Despite how old I feel sometimes, I’m only 21 and I don’t plan on having kids any time soon. I constantly struggle with body positivity and I’ve always been of a mind that you can fake it til ya make it. Unfortunately, lately I’ve realized that that can be quite exhausting, pretending like I’m happy with the way I look. I’m just hoping I’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.

  • Willow

    I don’t think of my body in the same way at all that I did in my teens and 20s. My body is here to enjoy living and facilitate my enjoyment of life here. It’s not for other people, though they’re welcome to like it (or not). I’ve had eating disorders since I was little because I was a chubby baby, a fat kid, an then a fat adult. I weighed as much as 400 pounds once. Now I’m under 200. I have several painful health issues (not related to weight, past or present) that makes me more inclined to get frustrated and unhappy with my body than my appearance does at this point in life. I’ve given up on looking sexy as a priority, but yet, my body is the healthiest it’s ever been and I can do things I never thought possible for me. I’ve always dreamed of getting to go hiking and backpacking. But I couldn’t. And, well, now I can. And to be able to work with your body in a way you only wished for feels better than simply looking hot any day. Being out in nature in the way that wilderness hiking allows is way way WAY better than looking conventionally hot. Don’t get me wrong, I’d wish for that too in a perfect world. But I’m going to take my joy and (literally) run with it.

    I guess if you’ve been at war with your body on the most basic level, the level of physical ability (or disability, rather) you might see your body differently than those who haven’t lived with that struggle. Body acceptance did not show up for me the way I thought it would. I thought If I just beat it into shape and looked hot, I’d love my body. But… there is a word for people who would beat who they love to show they love them. It showed up more gently, instead. In every act of self-care, in every instance where I demanded proper medical treatment, in every mile I hiked, in every bite of genuinely nourishing food I actually, finally enjoyed without shame or guilt…

    One day, out of nowhere, I happened to noticed a quietness in my body where hypervifilant rage once lived. I have hard days when my illnesses act up, but I don’t go straight to hate and anger anymore. I feel frustrated and then I ask my body kindly what she requires of me today to create more ease. I haven’t gotten a wrong answer yet.

  • Nita

    At 40 I am feeling more beautiful and sexier that at amy poimt in my life. i jave learned to love my body and that my confidence is sexy to my husband. Taking time for me is critical to being a good mother and good wife. I just wish I could have told my younger self that.

    • Evie

      40 is AMAZING, isn’t it? I have more confidence now that I’ve turned 40 than I’ve ever had in the past (even if you add it all up together it’s still not even close). It’s freeing to not wear the weight of the worlds judgment like I did when I was younger.

  • Jules

    Hi Gen,
    I’m a 17 years old german student and I want to say thank you for your very inspiring speech. Even very early at school I started to often think about how much I look like or if I was dressed “right”. Today i think I can say that I have the brave to look like however I want, but still it’s very hard to me to leave house without putting makeup on. I don’t even know why, but especially in school I often think about what the others think about me. I really want to accept myself like I am, but it’s just easier to hide yourself behind a mask of makeup. I’m looking forward to become more selfconfident after I left school next year. And at least I wanna thank you for being such a great role model to me.
    (Sorry if I made some mistakes ^^ my English skills aren’t that good)

  • Michaela

    Thank for this post. Body positivy is such an important thing. It took very long for me to realize that their isn’t THE perfect body, because however you look like, there will always be someone around who will have a bitch about. If you are skinny, you have a eating disorder. So you have, when you are chubby. If you have big boobs, you should wear a minimizer bra to hide them. If you have a flat chest you should wear a push up.
    What this shows it, that the only one who should be happy with her own body is yourself. You are the one who has to live with it. I’m still learning to accept me, the way I am. (Sorry, for the bad English. It’s not my foreign language)

  • Lisa

    Beautiful sentiments.
    As a 41 year old Mom of 2 teenagers and a 7 year old, it’s difficult for me to find time to really take care of ME sometimes.
    I spent years as a morbidly obese woman, who was happy with my husband and, at the time, 2 kids… But, I was needing to be a better me. I underwent gastric bypass surgery in 2007 and lost 200 lbs. I had another child and I also suffered complications from my surgery.
    I had no choice but to focus on me for awhile.
    Now, eleven years later, I am maintaining my weight loss, living a better, healthier life and am able to enjoy my family.
    I had to come to love the “new” me in a very short period of time. With excessive weight loss, I found that my body changed in ways I wasn’t expecting. I have extra skin and my breasts, that fed my 3 children, became much different!
    However, I love my body despite its “melty” appearance. I don’t mind the extra skin or the less than perky breasts. Because I know that I worked hard to get here. And my husband loves my body too, which is a bonus!
    Women should celebrate one another-always-instead of tearing each other down.
    Thank you for your post. It’s really lovely to see.

  • Bailey

    Hi Gen!
    I just adore this post, as a 16 year old I’m constantly worrying about my body, about the way I look and the way people see me. I’m 17 next week and the pressure to look ‘thinner’ is really getting to me, but I’m not sure why. Growing up I was surrounded by people who’d point out their flaws, growing up I’d constantly get put down for the way I looked so it has always been difficult for me to love myself.
    I’m constantly battling with myself about how I need to look, part of me says that I need to look ‘perfect’ and have a flat stomach and a toned body, but another part of me knows that I’m fine the way I am.
    I’m on the journey of finding self love, of discovering that I have more to offer, turns out I’m really good at acting and music, and that I’m quite good at writing things. So, I focus on that side of me, instead of the side that wants to be ‘perfect’.
    This post has helped me realise even more that there’s more to me than my body.
    Thank you, again, for creating this<3

  • Sierra

    Your positivity radiates from you! I followed you (don’t judge this next part) strictly because I love your husband on Supernatural. I’m beyond glad I did – I have learned so much and gained so much confidence reading your blog. I don’t get to read it like I want to but each time I do its wonderful! Thanks for always being such a positive individual in a world so set on negativity. You ARE beautiful inside and out!!

  • Giovanna

    Wonderful, You can always see everything from a different point of view, I read all your posts and it is very interesting how you deal with certain things that to other people is a “problem”. Congratulations Gen 👏👏👏 I love you even more💖

  • Alyssa

    “My body is not my masterpiece. My life is.”

    I can’t begin to describe what this sentence has done for me. Thank you.

  • Laura

    I love this post! I love the acknowledgement that women’s bodies are beautiful at every stage, for how they look and for what they do. I love the idea that with respecting, appreciating, valuing and nurturing our bodies we can become whole. I think that’s because we allow ourselves to feel connected to our bodies and to embrace our bodies. It’s a beautiful thing, and one I have spent a lot of time thinking about and working towards. So thank you for talking about it, for contributing to the body positivity movement, and for recognising the beauty of all women’s bodies — no matter their age or size! 🌟🌟🌟

  • Heather

    I am 52, menopausal and bipolar. Between the menopause and the meds needed to control the bipolar, I have put on weight. At times it has caused me to be less than pleased with myself. However, becoming a vegetarian and working out on a regualr basis (I love kickboxing) has improved both my physical and mental state. No, I will never look like I did when I was 20, but I have become more confident and comfortable with myself. I am still a larger woman, but I learning to love myself, warts and all. Because of this body, I have a beautiful 17 year old daughter who never ceases to bring joy to my life. She is a strong, independent young woman who is working towards a degree in psychology. I have a husband who loves me very much and thinks that I am getting sexier as I get older. Yes, I still have my bad days when I think I’m not good enough, but with work, those days are becoming fewer and farther between. Thank you for posting such wonderful inpiring blogs and for sharing the real you with us. Take care and enjoy your beautiful children and husband.

  • Ileana

    Very powerful message!! I have had issues with obesity for a long time. I had a heart condition that developed at the age of 5. My heart would beat rapidly every time I got excited about something or was overtired. I was on medication for that until I was 21 when I had heart surgery to correct the problem. I also developed diabetes when I was 19 and a size 9/10 (not overweight yet). I was put on medication that made me gain weight, almost 45 pounds. I worked as an EMT at the time so I was a very busy person and also went to the gym but the weight never came off I continued to gain weight. I changed medications and ended up having bariatric surgery, I weighed about 260 by this point and lost 50 with the surgery. I had my two beautiful kids and lost weight while I was pregnant with them but the weight came back by the time my maternity leave was over. I was diagnosed with MS in 2015 and that shook my world. My kids are 8 and 4, and I am trying to be a postive rolemodel for them physically and mentally. I have a trainor that I meet with twice a month and go to the gym 3 days a week. Even though I don’t see the number on the scale coming down I know in my mind and my heart that I am trying my best for my family. I may not have positive thoughts about my body because lets face it I feel disgusting in my body but I am very proud of myself for not giving up and continuing to train at the gym!!!

  • Evie

    You are beautiful. Full stop. End of. It always makes me sad when people give a compliment and follow it up with a qualifier. You aren’t pretty for someone with three kids. You are fucking radiant. No one’s perfect. What even IS perfect anyway? And what committee decides what’s perfectly “perfect?” You’re perfectly YOU though, and that is a remarkable thing to be, and you’re the only committee that gets to decide that. ❤️

  • Adrienne Rogerson

    Hey lady! You mentioned your breasts, so I will mention mine. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. Today (at 43) I sit here recovering from reconstruction surgery. I have been cancer free for 8 years and I am thankful for every day. I was lucky enough to only require a lumpectomy with subsequent chemo and radiation therapies. My breasts and I were doing great until last year when peri menopause kicked in. Up until then, I wore my scars like a badge. Hormones came in and messed things up! My unaffected breast grew larger, almost a full cup size. Coming from a family of large breasted women, I’ve always had hang ups about my breast size. As a teen, I cried every time I had to go up a cup. I was terrified of being huge. As I matured mentally, it became easier to love the physical me. It helps that my husband totally digs every part of me. However, this latest development of having lopsided breasts just flipped a switch in my brain. I cut off sexual intimacy because I wanted to punish my breasts. We’d been through so much together and now this?!? Hence reconstruction surgery. I lay here recovering, bruised and sore. So, my question (s) is this: why do women place so much value on our breasts in regards to self image? Is it some deep root in our psyche or the fault of society? Why do women go to such extremes to get their breasts as close to perfection as possible? A

  • Michelle Thomas

    Thank you for this post. I will be 37 on the 9th of May, and I can relate to body image.

  • Katherine Kuehler Walters

    Great topic and Wonderfully Inspiring Post.
    I’m 45 and have found the last 7-8 years my sexist so far. Took me a long time to learn that Sexy is a frame of mind–built on confidence from sense of one’s own strength/power—whether power to entice or excite a partner, or physical power through pregnancy (earned my tiger stripes), breast-feeding, or personal power through advocating for or inspiring others.
    Physically, I have never been a 10–or even close to a 10 in the traditional sense–but I feel sexier now than I did when I was 18, & a size 6. Stretch marks since puberty. Now I know who I am and feel more confident in my purpose & place in the world–as a woman, mother, wife, an educator, and an activist. Empowering others by teaching about injustice, exclusion, inequality, privilege, helping those who just may not have the strength to advocate for themselves—helping them by simply listening, or quietly standing with them, or giving them the words/knowledge to advocate for themselves and their families (in their school, job, etc.)—often in every-day ways—gives me strength too.
    But, after 40, physical health is so important too. After having 3 children, while working & going through grad school (graduating w/Ph.D. next week!!), my sedentary job and busy schedule led to some unhealthy eating habits and excuses not to exercise. Making lifestyle changes–not to look better for others, but to be healthy and strong for myself–made such a difference–feeling the personal strength of my own body–to do things that I physically could not do before & feel my body move in ways I could not before (probably helped the weirdly shifting hormones typical of someone in their 40s). TO FEEL MY CURVES while I move through the day makes me feel sexy.
    On a side note, I want to thank you and your husband for your activism and positivity. My young teenage daughter follows both of you on instagram & twitter (after she got me hooked on #SPN, which we watch together, I do too). It’s good for her to see strong women, strong family relationships, and others’ speaking out on bullying, LGBTQ, Downs Syndrome–all important issues for her.

  • Sue

    I was chubby all through high school and throughout my 20s. No, not chubby, out of shape. I didn’t exercise regularly, and my eating habits leaned hard toward fried and salty southern food. After experiencing 15 years of infertility, I started eating a healthier diet and doing yoga and Pilates. Not only did my muscle tone and overall health improve, I got pregnant at 37 (after trying since I was 22) and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy! I’m happier with myself in my 40s. I’m not as hard on myself, I deeply appreciate the good things (my hair, my skin) and don’t let the “problem” areas (my nose, my stomach) concern me.

    My marriage is even stronger, the sex is even better because we don’t expect it to be magic every time — we laugh more, and explore things we weren’t into when we where younger. Being a mom, being 40+ makes me feel sexier, more connected to my feelings, and more grounded. Feeling sexy in my 40s feels like silk against bare skin — unexpected and luxe.

    Me at 42:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/164332919@N03/shares/46c63h

  • Luana Grando

    Yes Gen!
    I’m on my 38, and feels better than I’ve never felt.
    I’m secure, powerful, smart, sexy, and sex is too much better.
    Well I can say that’s the best age. I have an 4 years old gorgeous little girl, work, gym, RPG, learning Deutsch…
    Once I thought my 40 years aunts were old!
    And now I feel like 20. Holly crap!
    We women, we can hang the world.
    There is nothing we can’t do.
    Thanks for this post.
    Love you.

  • Heidi

    This is gorgeousness. In photos, yes. But also in the words you write, and the intent with which you write them. I love the idea of women empowering other women, not only of equal age and place in life’s journey but also as inspiration to the younger generations. Leading by example!! Thank you for this post ❤️

  • LC

    Overall, I’m happy with my body image. I am confident in the way I am perceived physically to the world. I am 24 years old, far from perfect, but pretty content in myself and working on confidence everyday (some days are harder than others). Yes, I have areas of my body I would like to work on (who doesn’t), like maintaining a flat stomach or lose inches in my thighs. I also see the natural beauty in myself, like my deep green eyes, thick full hair, and cute small feet for a tall woman like me. I notice I am very fortunate to have delicate hands with an almost naturally manicured nails. I, like you, also feel empowered by my breast. I’m not quite sure why, I don’t have children, but I feel proud to be a strong woman to have overcome a lot. I have a familiar face and I meet so many people because they recognize me and initially think I’m someone else. It’s a beautiful blessing in disguise to meet new people, no matter the city I may be in. My struggle with looking in the mirror is the reflections of my childhood. My facial features also reflect my abuser and my neck will always seem swollen to me. I know it’s not, but sometimes all I see is the scared little girl I used to be, waiting for someone else to love me through my pain, when really, I need to love me, ALL the time. Learning to love my PTSD self #survivor. This is what I would write about if I was brave enough to tell my story. I AM a work in progress. I AM NOT what happened to me. And I love who I am becoming. Thank you for your openness and honesty of your words, and know the inspiration it gave me to say at least a little.

  • Sabrina Travers

    This topic is SO important. I’m a mom to two young children and it’s been very hard for me to be comfortable in my own skin and like anything about my body. After 16 months pp I’m FINALLY starting to get there. I’m training for a half marathon and with all the running I get my alone time to listen to music and zone out. I admin a wellness page on fb with other mamas that feel the same way as myself. We support and lift eachother up as well as post our goals, failures and successes in the fitness world and self care. I TRY to carve out self care for myself on top of my training because it’s just SO important to feel good for you, which benefits your family. I’m a SAHM so it can be tricky getting it but i try my best. As much as i don’t like body i also love it for what it’s done growing my two wonderful little girls. Keep these blog posts coming, i really enjoy reading them! xoxo

  • (Insta - 615_Bayyybe) Lisa Dawson-Bennett

    You are a powerhouse! So inspiring! That is exactly what I adore about you. Being so humbling honest! This world needs more women who empower and embrace other women who is an inspiration as you are to me. If I ever went to a Creation Con, I’d ask Jared to FaceTime you so I can tell you that not only your husband has saved my life but you as well and wanted to thank you.

    XOXOXO, Lisa

  • Maddie Larsen

    Thank you for being such a wonderful role model and for being there for me to look up to this past year! It really means a lot!!1

  • Nicole

    Hi Gen,

    At 31, I am beginning to understand that self love and becoming a whole person is one of the most important things we can do. For ourselves, our kids, our husband’s and our friends, even strangers.

    Thank you for sharing such a vulnerable part of yourself

  • Jutta

    Thank you!!!

  • Deb White

    I couldn’t agree more with you Gen. We get so tied up in how others see us and expect us to be, that we lose sight of ourselves and our beauty. True beauty comes from accepting ourselves the way we are and not how we wish we could be. I’ve recently lost 30 pounds. It took me a year to lose it. I felt so much better! I could breathe easier and a lot of my aches & pains disappeared. I’ve gained 5 of that back & I immediately started getting stuck in that negativity loop. I will lose it again, not because I don’t love my body the way it is, but because I feel healthier without it. Self confidence equals sexy. Thank you Gen for tackling the tough topics. I love you for it. I’m looking forward to following this discussion. 💖💖💖
    Sincerely,
    Deb White
    @classichassis on Twitter

  • Jennifer Pike

    Gen,

    I can’t thank you enough for starting this conversation! It so desperately needs to be had! I’m 32 and I also struggle with loving my body and all its quirks. And there certainly are plenty. You mentioned your hands as one thing you love, and I love mine too, but you gave reasons that I hadn’t even considered! I’m not a mother yet, but I am a wife, and your post gave me pause and made me think of the love that I have given to my husband – holding his hand, giving him a nice neck rub after a rough day at work, wearing my wedding bands proudly. But my hands have also given me something else that I cherish – my ability at the piano. I’ve played since I was 7, and it’s a part of who I am, to say the least, and something that has morphed for me over time. Initially it was somewhat of a chore – practice everyday. Then I realized it became somewhat of an escape and a stress reliever over time. And now I view it as a source of that self-care that so many of us are seeking. My piano is currently at my mom’s house in St. Louis, and won’t be with me again until we’re in a house. I’ve been apart from it for 4 years, and it’s definitely been a painful separation.

    For me, my feet are perhaps the part of my body that I’m most self-conscious of. It certainly doesn’t help now that we’re living in Florida and I’m in flip flops all the time, haha! And my stomach – I’ve always been self-conscious of the surgery scars I have from when I was a baby. But I’ve learned to embrace them as a part of me. That was a slow process.

    I struggle with feeling pretty enough, feeling sexy enough, feeling worthy enough – even though, when I’m thinking rationally, I know my husband loves me for exactly the way I am – no matter what. After all, he’s been chasing me since high school – when we’re all awkward and gawky as teenagers! And he’s seen me at my worst – and my best. And I know he loves me through all of it – even when I have a hard time loving myself. I feel like the role of the caretaker has traditionally fallen on women, and while that is not a bad thing, taking care of others at the expense of taking care of ourselves is. It tends to be a hard thing to remember – I know it is for me.

    Thank you for dedicating a month to this very important topic. I always find myself encouraged, inspired and uplifted by your posts.

    Jen

  • Isabel

    Gen, what you have to say here is so meaningful and profound. Yes, you are a stunning woman, but i think what some people don’t understand is, no matter how thin, how pretty, how young you are, you will ALWAYS see just your flaws. I am a healthy weight. i work our regularly, and i get told i’m pretty, but i don’t see it. i see my stretch marks. the flab on my stomach. how big my thighs are. But life is about embracing and overcoming the fact that your not perfect, and loving yourself anyway, and realizing that how beautiful you are, shouldn’t be the most important thing to you. beauty fades. It’s what you do with your life that counts. I think you’re onto something very important here. Thank you for being real about serious topics, and not being afraid to share what you feel. it’s so rare to see someone like you these days. You have my heartfelt admiration forever.

    xoxo Isabel

  • Isabel

    Gen, you’ve touched upon such an important topic here. Yes, you are a stunning woman, but what some people don’t understand, is, no matter how young, how pretty, how thin you are, you look in a mirror, and you only see your flaws. I am a healthy weight. i workout regularly. I get told i’m pretty. but i don’t see it. I see my stretch marks. my stomach flab. the size of my thighs. But life isn’t about being as beautiful as you can possibly be. It’s about realizing you’re not perfect, and loving yourself anyways. Beauty fades. the only thing that matters is being the best damn person you can possibly be. Thank you for being real about serious topics, and not being afraid to show what you think and feel. for showing young girls what a REAL woman is like. For that, have my eternal repect and admiration.

    XOXO Isabel

  • Kathy Waters

    Gen, I wish there had been women like you to admire when I was a teen and in my twenties. (A LONG time ago) When I look back at pictures of myself at that age I looked great. (And I don’t look half bad now, so it’s not an age thing. LOL) But at the time I thought I was fat. It’s unbelievable what the mind can convince you that you are seeing. Now in my 60’s I wish I could go back and talk to that 20 something girl and help her believe in herself more, not just her body. You have such wisdom for your age and it is beautiful to see.

  • Amanda Grande

    Hi Gen, great article and keep feeling positive about yourself thanks for making even me feel postive in my own post-baby body I’m a mom of two little girls and being a mom is hard work I’m also a blogger and I just wanted to tell you that I’m praying for you and your husband well let me know how to write you both… I hope to hear from you soon also feel free to e-mail me if you want

  • Tahmina

    Such a poignant post! <3

  • kathleen amstutz

    Iwish you, and others like you, were around when I was a child and all through adulthood until about age 55-64years old [I’m now 72 years YOUNG!]. I was overweight since age 6-months until about age 40 when I STARVED almost 100 pouunds off of me. btw. not a good idea as I really messed up my metabolism. As I’m getting older and not able to be as active as I once was, therefore putting on a few pounds, I still have a negative view of my body, just not as bad as my younger days. Unfortunately,nwhen I was young, I was reminded constantly that “I would be so pretty if I wasn’t so heavy” and”if only you could be more like your sister” [who was, of course, thin]. Around age 40 I realized that I was fun to be with, a great listener and an even better friend; wish my folks has told me that!!!

  • Jordy

    I saw this breastfeeding photo on Honest’s insta and knew it was you! So breathetaking.

  • Ali

    Gen, im a 17 year old girl who weighs 240 lbs. i have struggled with myself worth and body positivity for the longest time. i was bullied as a child to the point of not being able to look in the mirror. I would get to the point where i would fall into a depressed state and not be able to be myself. I don’t go a day where i don’t hear those poeple saying those crude things to me in my mind. It’s hard for me to be body positve, most days i cant find a single thing to like about myself. this is really the reason i found this blog. You and Jared has helped me so much to the point where i can look at myself and feel semi good about myself. Thank you guys for helping me even though you probably wont ever know how much or even ment to. Thank you for being your beautiful self.

  • Fatima

    “my body is not my masterpiece – my life is” love that!

  • Andie

    This was beautiful. Just reading this heart warming post made me smile, and almost feel ready to wake up and shine tomorrow. Yes, I am reading this while sitting in my bed late at night. Even though I may not be a loving wife, or have three kids, this message was very comforting to me. It reminded me to not be so harsh on my self, and to remember that even on days when I feel as though I might be the ugliest thing on this planet, giving a little love to my self and my body won’t hurt. And that it’s the little steps that count. Thanks Gen.

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