Jessica: Hey there, it’s Jessica Honegger, founder of the socially conscious fashion brand at Noonday Collection. And this is The Going Scared Podcast where we cover all things impact, entrepreneurship, and courage. Today on the show we welcome Jenna Kutcher. I got to know Jenna when we traveled to Guatemala together around a year ago with Noonday Collection and she actually shot the photo we use for The Going Scared Podcast. The photos she took on that trip are some of my most favorite ever. Jenna is not only a photographer, but she’s a podcaster, educator, and social media influencer. And honestly, she has such a passion to serve entrepreneurs and pour into entrepreneurs’ businesses. She even has a master’s class where she takes entrepreneurs through an intensive for an entire year.
Her podcast, The Goal Digger Podcast, is one of the top-rated business podcasts on all of iTunes. Jenna goes scared in a lot of areas of her life, but one area that I really admire her for is how she’s creating a dialogue and space for women to talk about body image and embrace our imperfections. And that is really what our conversation focuses on today.
You may know Jenna from an Instagram post that went viral this past year. It was a picture of her and her fitness trainer husband and here’s what she wrote in that post:
"Someone once slid into my DMs and told me they couldn’t believe I had managed to land a guy as good looking as my husband. Part of my insecurity with my body has stemmed around being married to Mr. Six-Pack himself. Why should I, a curvy girl, get him? This man has embraced every curve, every dimple, pound, and pimple for the last 10 years and has always reminded me that I’m beautiful even when my inner dialogue doesn’t match."
So, this post and just her whole story is why I wanted to have her on the show to talk about chapter four of my book, Imperfect Courage.
Chapter four is called "Own Your Worth." And for me personally, it’s one of the most vulnerable chapters in the entire book because I really take a deep dive into my own journey of self-acceptance. Jenna and I share both of our journeys really vulnerably on today’s episode. If you haven’t bought the book yet, go buy it. It’s out now. You guys, it’s at the top of the charts on Amazon. Thank you so much. You guys are buying this book, you’re telling your friends about this book, you’re being moved by the stories in this book, and I just want to say thank you because I wrote this book for you. I wrote this book for us. Here’s the talented, honest, and also hilarious, Jenna Kutcher.
Jenna Kutcher: Business and Body Love
Hey Jenna, welcome to the show.
Jenna: I’m so excited to be here and I’m so excited to catch up with you.
Jessica: I know. Me too. That is the benefit of being a podcaster now. I get to be like, "Ooh. I get to…" and we just said we both had dreams about each other last night.
Jenna: Not creepy at all. It’s totally not creepy.
Jessica: Not creepy. So, Jenna and I actually, just to let you guys know, we got to travel to Guatemala together a few months ago actually and that’s really where we got to be friends and we got to have even some of these conversations with each other that we’re about to have out loud with you. But I was just telling Jenna that…I like talking with Jenna about business and she has helped me so much, especially as I was launching my own branding stuff and podcasting. Jenna is one of those women that’s like, "I will help you. I want to help you." Her life’s purpose is like. "I wanna help other women." So, I love talking about that. Not so much this whole body image thing, which is what we’re talking about today.
Jenna: Jessica is like, "I honestly don’t wanna do this." And I was like, "So, let’s hit record."
Jessica: Let’s hit record.
Jenna: Let’s do this.
Jessica: That means let’s just go. So, you can’t back out and start coming up with alternative questions. And so here’s the thing, I think there’s a couple reasons why this whole idea of body image and embracing body image publicly held me back. One is, I’m still in process. And I had this false idea and I even talk about it in this chapter that we’re discussing today, "Own Your Worth," that you needed to have a bow on it before you could put it out there and start leading others. So, that was one false belief that I needed a bow on it before I could talk about it. And the other thing was just fear of becoming a poster child for body image. And I think that was a fear because I’m like, "This is just one part of my journey. It’s not all of it." But I have to say, Brene Brown, I mean in her research and in so many other people’s research, it says there’s only 2 percent of the entire population that has not struggled with not liking something about themselves.
Jenna: I wanna know who those 2 percent are.
Jessica: Me too. I haven’t met them.
Jenna: I haven’t either. Maybe they’re lying. I don’t know.
Jessica: Well, I might have met…I might have met one because I was doing an interview last week for a journalist and she asked me, she says, because this is in the business section of Barnes and Noble, it is a story of business, but it weaves in so many other topics. And so she said, "Why body image? Why is that something you ended up talking about?" And it took me off guard because I was like, "Well, did that not resonate with a felt need in your life?" You know? She was acting shocked that I would talk about this and I’m like, "I think most women deal with this."
Life in Lycra
So, this is a lot of what we’re gonna talk about today. And the truth is, Jenna, I know your current story and how you’ve embraced this and how it is part of your purpose in your branding now. Tell me the story behind the story. Tell me your journey of embracing your worth, realizing there were some negative voices in your life and overcoming those or, and not that you’ve overcome completely because we’re a work in progress. But can you tell me a little bit about your journey in this area of your life?
Jenna: Yeah. So, when I was growing up, I was a gymnast and I started gymnastics at the age of three. And so by the time I was 12, 13, 14, overnight I’d become a woman. And I realized like, "I can’t do this sport much longer. I’ve got to go to Plan B." Which kept me in Lycra and I transitioned into being a springboard diver. And so I went from being a gymnast to a diver and ended up diving all four years in college. Not many people know that I was a collegiate athlete. But I feel like when I look at my journey with my body, so much of it is shaped around being an athlete and then finding my identity in that, but also the struggle of showing up every day and wearing revealing things that show every bump and every curve. And so as I become a woman and an adult, I’ve had so many of the narratives replaying in my head. “If you were lighter, you would flip faster.” “If you were thinner, you would look better.”
And when you look at the media representation of women, I remember ripping out thinspiration as a young child of women that were thin and workouts and googling what Britney Spears did to get her abs and then committing to doing 500 crunches a day to look like that. And I think that 99 percent of women have had disordered eating at some point in their life. And I absolutely have struggled with that and I feel like so often we tell ourselves these lies like, "When I am married, this will stop. When I am successful, this will stop. When I am pregnant, this will stop." And yet, it’s something that we are all dealing with every single day. And so when you said you didn’t wanna be the poster child for body image, that is something that has become a piece of me. Not necessarily by choice, but being thrust into this position to actually talk about it.
“That is something that has become a piece of me. Not necessarily by choice, but being thrust into this position to actually talk about it.” Jenna Kutcher on being a “poster child” for body image.
Jessica: Right. Because I think if you look back and there had to have been some limiting beliefs even before then during your gymnast career that created this idea of you needed to be this certain size in order to be a successful gymnast. There’s so much pressure in that sport in particular.
Chasing Titles to Find Identity
Jessica: And then tell me about…I wanna hear a little bit more because I feel like you had a choice then to just get completely out of athletics at that point. You could have just said like, "Well, I’m out. I’m going to become the student council president," or “I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do that.” But you continued to push through and pursue another sport that does involve Lycra like you said. Tell me where that came from.
Jenna: You know, I think that for many of us, myself especially, I’ve always lived in an identity crisis. Where is my identity found? And when I was growing up, it was in being a gymnast. We didn’t have high school gymnastics so I was club. And I just remember the second anyone would ask me about myself, I would say, "I’m a gymnast." And then going into college, the same thing happened. My identity was being found in being an athlete. And I felt like it was the way that I showed up in the world was like with these titles. And looking even at my career, we find our worth in titles, in what people think of those titles. And I now currently am like a size 10-12, and I feel good in my skin for probably the first time in so long. But I didn’t ever really let my insecurity show. I masked it with confidence. And behind closed doors was when you would sit there and poke and prod and look at all the imperfections and have those dialogues with yourself where you are the nastiest human being to yourself.
“My identity was being found in being an athlete. And I felt like it was the way that I showed up in the world was like with these titles. And looking even at my career, we find our worth in titles, in what people think of those titles.” Jenna Kutcher
And I think about the way that we think about ourselves, the way that we speak about ourselves, and if we heard anyone else doing that, we would smack them in the face and say, "You can not talk like that." And yet that is what we do to ourselves. And I think that so much of how we were raised is that the media portrayed one version of beautiful, one version of beauty that we all subscribe to and that we always felt less than because we didn’t fit that mold.
“And I think that so much of how we were raised is that the media portrayed one version of beautiful, one version of beauty that we all subscribe to and that we always felt less than because we didn’t fit that mold.” Jenna Kutcher
Jessica: I think for you it was athleticism and then the media on top of that. For me, I grew up in a culture that appearance was super, super important. And I would say a big majority of the girls in my high school struggled with eating disorders. I mean legit. You would be able to say, "Oh, so-and-so is in treatment right now." And I remember the first time I realized that my body wasn’t the problem, it was the way I thought about my body. I met a gal right after college and she was like 6’2", had to special-order her clothes, and her feet were really bigger than the average woman’s foot. And she grew up on a farm somewhere in the midwest. Jenna, you midwestern girls, I love the midwest. I love Midwesterners. My husband’s a midwesterner. And I began to tell her some of my struggles and she didn’t have one single issue with her body. She was like, "Yeah. I love my body. I don’t know. What are you talking about?"
When Critical Becomes Hateful
And that’s when I realized that it wasn’t my body because I think for so long, I thought, "Well, my body is the problem. Therefore, if I fix my body, then I’m gonna feel less pain in life, I’m gonna be more accepted." For you, I think it was like, "I’ll get the title of…this is how I’ll look on the diving board or whatever." When do you think you realized, "OK. It’s not my body, it’s how I think about my body." And then how did you begin to change your thinking?
Jenna: Yeah. So, I remember the exact moment. I was at a conference. I was with about four women. We were all the speakers and we were sitting at a table eating dinner and somebody said, "I hate my nose." And then somebody said, "I hate my thighs." And it slowly turned into this hate fest where we were all pointing out our biggest insecurities about our bodies. And as I looked at these women, I was just quiet and I thought, "I would have never noticed your nose. I think your nose is adorable. And those freckles you hate, that is what I love." And so I made them all commit that the next morning I got to come into their room before they got out of bed, and I got to take photos of them. Just how they woke up before their feet hit the floor, what they looked like if only just for them to have those images to see what I saw in them. And I think that sometimes our greatest teacher is how we can pull out the best things about other people. But if somebody were to ask you, "Jessica, what is the best thing about yourself?" It’d be so hard to even think of something, you know?
“And I think that sometimes our greatest teacher is how we can pull out the best things about other people.” Jenna Kutcher on the subjectivity of beauty.
And so I turned the camera on my friends, I called it the, "I woke up like this" type challenge. And my one friend who is also a photographer said, "Well, this isn’t fair. If you’re doing this to us, we got to be able to do it for you." And so she took…
Jessica: And you were like, "No. No, no, no, no, no, no. No."
Jenna: And I was like,"That’s not how this works." And she took these photos. And I remember exactly what I was wearing. I had a mismatched bra and underwear on and a little Kimono. And my eyebrows were different shapes. And just all the things that we can hide and mask. And I posted that picture and I just talked for the first time. And this was probably four years ago, just about the struggle of being behind the camera and why so many photographers love to shoot other people but hate being photographed themselves. And I remember just showing up vulnerable like that and my parents were not entirely pleased that their daughter was showing up in bra and underwear online, which now is a common occurrence and they’ve totally bought into because they can see the bigger mission at hand. And so I just remember thinking if these are the ways that we’re speaking about ourselves, if hating ourselves got us anywhere, we would have already arrived. And so that was really when I started to share and started to talk about this a little bit more.
“And so, I just remember thinking if these are the ways that we’re speaking about ourselves, if hating ourselves got us anywhere, we would have already arrived.” Jenna Kutcher
Jessica: OK. And so, tell us about that process because there is something I have to be honest with you, I’m not proud to admit this, but we just had our first ever plus-size model on the front of our Noonday Collection lookbook. She’s gorgeous. It’s actually one of my favorite lookbooks ever. And I think the reason I had held back is because I still found the things we find uncomfortable in ourselves, we’re gonna find uncomfortable in other people. And if we’re not accepting something fully in ourselves then we’re not gonna accept that in others. And honestly, that was a lot of my motivation for change because it’s like, I don’t wanna show up as a judgmental person in the world about how people look, but if that is how I’m treating myself, you extend that. It is just science. It is human behavior of how we behave. And so now I realize during this journey of being able to own my worth and accept myself first just as I am, not until. Not like, "OK. When this happens, then I’ll accept myself."
“The things we find uncomfortable in ourselves, we’re gonna find uncomfortable in other people.” Jessica Honegger
Body Image and Fear of Failure
But really flip that narrative on its head. I now accept others and create a space for others. And so I’m really proud of our newest lookbook. But it’s still been a vulnerable journey. A little here and there putting it out there. So, you started to put it out there. Did that begin an even deeper healing process? What were some of the tensions that you held then? Because I know for me, I found I accept myself just as I am, but then it’s also okay if I’m wanting to be my best self and get a little bit of extra weight off. You know what I mean? That’s kind of a tension. So, tell us about that journey four years ago, up until today.
Jenna: When I look at myself four years ago, now I just see such a beautiful woman and I’m like, "What? Really? You were insecure? Like really?"
Jessica: Isn’t that crazy?
Jenna: Yes. I’m like, "Walk around naked. You look great." And I feel like hindsight is always just crazy where I can look at images and remember the exact insecurity I was feeling as that photo was being taken and look at it years later and say, "I don’t even notice my arms in that." Or, "I don’t even notice my chin." Or whatever we were dealing with. And so as I started sharing, I started to just talk about that dialogue and the struggle, but it’s funny because I look at myself four years ago and I had no idea I was about to be derailed in the body image movement when we had our first miscarriage. And so it’s easy to talk about loving yourself and to sell that idea of self-love, but when you go through something as raw as infertility or miscarriage or anything like that, that intimately involves your body and your body not doing what you believe it should, the amount of hate that you can feel towards your body is insane.
And so I remember we had found out we were pregnant the first time, which was two and a half years ago. And I remember just being so blissful and being just so excited and thinking, "My body is a miracle. This is a miracle. And this is so crazy." And when we found out that we lost the baby 10 weeks in, I remember thinking, "How am I ever going to forgive myself? How am I ever going to not feel shame about this?"
And I remember too, and I feel like people don’t talk about this when it comes to this subject, is your husband did his part or your partner, whatever that is for you, did their part and now you dropped the ball not just for you but for them. And so it was this gravity of loss on so many levels. And so, when I really started sharing about it, really getting to the heart of it, kind of what you were saying before, is it a wound or is it a scar? And I think that I was showing up in the wound state. There was no pretty bows. There was only the rawness of, I feel like a failure and I wanna say these things about myself before anyone else has the opportunity to say them for me.
And I think that it’s almost this coping mechanism of saying, "I know I have cellulite. I know I have curves. I know I’m not a size two." Because if I say these things, it doesn’t give you the opportunity to say them and shock me. And so when I look at the different seasons of sharing just my journey with my body, self-love was hard before our losses, but it was even harder when we had not one but two miscarriages. Back to back, same exact scenario where it was like, what is actually wrong with me? And so it’s been this journey of just continually showing up and what I think is so beautiful, but is misleading like you said, about the self-love movement is that it’s not being complacent with your body.
“And I think that it’s almost this coping mechanism of saying, "I know I have cellulite. I know I have curves. I know I’m not a size two." Because if I say these things, it doesn’t give you the opportunity to say them and shock me.” Jenna Kutcher
Jessica: Right. That’s why I think there’s a tension.
Self-Love vs Indulgence
Jenna: Yeah. I think that the problem with the self-love movement right now is that we’re only seeing women that are beyond a size 10 talking about it, where it can actually lead to unhealthy ideals. Where it’s, "Oh, just love yourself. Treat yourself. Indulge, whatever that is." But what I want to teach others is self-love is figuring out how to fuel your body and how to move your body and what is the best version of you. And yes, it is OK to love yourself, "flaws" and all, but don’t you wanna be better because you love yourself? Not in spite of it.
Jessica: Well, that really is… Oh, my gosh. I just remember the moment where, and I think it was five years ago, maybe four years ago, where… I mean, you can look back through my journals throughout 30 years of my life. They’re like, "I wanna lose weight." And praying to God, "Will you help me lose weight?" I have journals and journals of food journals. I’ve got numbers written down. I’ve got like, "It didn’t happen this week, but maybe next week." You know like, oh my gosh. It pains me to see all of this. And what I realized four years ago, I remember looking at my husband and saying, "I don’t wanna be thin. I wanna be loved. I wanna be accepted. I wanna belong."
And acceptance and belonging does not come from the size of my body. I have to belong to myself first and accept myself first. And that’s when I stopped dieting. Totally stopped the whole, "OK. It’s a Monday morning, this is what I’m gonna do this week," train that I had been on for 30 years and really stopped. Full on stopped for a good couple of years and now it’s like the pendulum swing is coming back where I’m like, "Okay. I accept myself, I love myself. And because of that, I wanna eat less carbs and sugar this week because it makes me feel bad and it’s really not good for you."
“And acceptance and belonging does not come from the size of my body. I have to belong to myself first and accept myself first.” Jessica Honegger
But it is such a difference when it comes from, "I got it. I’m doing this because I wanna lose weight. Because if I lose weight, I’ll look better. And if I look better, people will love me more." And that is so different from saying, "My body is beautiful. It’s awesome. I love it. And because of that, I’m gonna eat healthy this week to show my body how much I love it. And then I’m gonna feel empowered and I’m gonna feel like I love myself. And when I feel like I love myself, and I’m not in shame and I’m not self-shaming, I love others."
And it’s crazy how you can get to the same outcome, but with a totally different mindset.
Jessica: So, I love that you’re saying that. So, tell me. OK, this is what’s crazy, Jenna. So, Jenna has been talking about this stuff and I knew she’d been posting pictures of herself in a swimsuit. I just thought I just don’t know if I can do that. And then lo and behold, I’m with a photographer in Haiti a few months ago and she’s a curvy woman and that helped me too. And honestly, you, the pictures you’ve taken of me that you took of me in Guatemala, they’re my favorite pictures ever. And I think it’s because there is that sense of self-acceptance coming from you and I feel your love. And I feel you wanting me to feel loved and confident and it just put me at ease. So, thank you for those photos. They’re everyone’s favorite at the office too. So, anyway. I’m in Haiti and I’m like, "OK. We’ll snap a photo, but there’s no way I’m gonna post it. There no way."
And then I remember just driving from the beach to the airport, and I just wrote this post where I finally just outed myself. And it was like you. "I better out myself before someone else outs me." I love that. It’s like fear of failing in front of others. Well, I’m just gonna nip that one in the bud. I’m just gonna say it out loud. OK.
Jenna Kutcher: The Instagram Post
So, I started my little journey and you definitely have had a journey. But then, this spring, I’m scrolling through your feed and I’m like, stop the scroll. You have a picture of you and your husband and you say that someone had written something nasty on the internet like, "How did you land that guy?" And I completely related because my husband is…I’m sure my arms are bigger than my husband’s and I know you talk about that as well. Especially, we’re in the middle of remodeling our house right now. He’s doing all the work. He’s dropped 20 pounds in the last month. I’m like, "This is not right. This is not OK."
Now, you’re definitely…your arms are smaller than mine. And so I was relating to this post. I stopped my scroll, I give it a like, probably commented. And then I come back later and it’s got a bazillion likes. And then suddenly you have hundreds of thousands of more followers and I’m like, "What on earth just happened?" And I guess a media outlet had picked it up and people resonated so well with the story that everyone just rallied around this story, but that outed you in a whole new way. It’s one thing when you’re doing your little personal Instagram—it’s your audience that you know and now suddenly you were talking to people that you don’t know if they’re gonna be safe, you don’t know what they’re gonna say. And now hundreds of thousands come into you through— because of this message. Tell me a little more post. It’s just been three or four months. Tell me a little bit about that process for you and how that’s played into a deeper level of healing for you perhaps. I hope.
Jenna: Yeah. So, the funniest part about the whole going viral thing was it was actually a friend of mine because I’d just recorded an episode for my podcast about handling criticism. And in that episode, I was reading off nasty comments or things that people had said about me or to me. And so it was just really front of mind of people don’t understand that with a platform comes critics and trolls to be honest. And so that night I met up with my girlfriends. We were having a little girls night and I was sitting in the parking lot and I’m like, "Oh, I should probably get a post up." And so I just wrote it really fast and I actually put my phone in my bag and didn’t look at it again. So, I had no idea what was going on.
But in the post, I had had someone reach out and made a comment like, "How did you? A girl like you land a guy like your husband?" And my husband has a six-pack. He’s so toned and here I am, a size 10, size 12. And I just clapped back at that critic and just said, "He’s loved my body through every season, every stage, every pimple, dimple, bump." And yes. It got picked up by pretty much every outlet. And so pretty much overnight within a week, I went from 200,000 followers, which is still a really big platform to over half a million. And in this process, we were also moving homes, we were trying to get pregnant and it was just this crazy season. And while there were so many people jumping on board in a positive way, I read the comments and that almost derailed me because the first night that it went viral, the first media outlet was Yahoo News to pick it up.
And I start reading the comments and people were saying, "Stop calling her curvy. She’s fat. She’s a whale. He’s only with her for her money. He’s probably gay and she’s his cover up." It was the most vile things ever said, not just about me but about my husband and I felt this responsibility because I had put this out here and now my husband’s getting ridiculed. And my mom had shared the article on her Facebook page and all I could think about was all of her friends reading those comments of what strangers were saying about me. And it was honestly devastating. And so after that first post went up, every outlet picked it up and it became a very positive thing. But we definitely had to get through some of the negativity.
And acceptance and belonging does not come from the size of my body. I have to belong to myself first and accept myself first. I didn’t know why they chose to follow. I didn’t know what they expected of me. I didn’t know what conversation they wanted me to continue. They didn’t know anything about me. As someone who had found her identity as an entrepreneur, all of a sudden I’m being looked at as this person that needs to talk about body positivity and here we are trying to get pregnant after losses. And I’m just on my own roller coaster. And so it was almost embarrassing to me to suddenly have half a million followers. It felt like when people looked me up, they would say, "Oh, what are you famous for?" And what am I gonna say because I have this picture of me in my swimsuit next to my good-looking husband, that’s why I’m famous. And so it…
“And so what was really shocking to me about it is I had already had a large platform, but all of a sudden when it doubles overnight, it made me wanna crawl into a shell and hide because I didn’t know who these people were.” Jenna Kutcher on the fallout from her Instagram post.
Jessica: But that was the narrative.
Jessica: That was the false narrative.
Jenna: Yes. It caused me to go so deeply inward that all of a sudden it was like I was paralyzed. And while so many people want a big following, I knew what was potentially coming with that. And so it’s just been a really interesting process. I feel like I finally got my groove back. I finally figured out how do I wanna handle this? What do I want that to look like? But it took a long time to get there.
Jessica: OK and well because I can talk any-a-gram on my podcast. Threes go to nine. So, you were probably just like, stuck. You’re like, "I don’t want to move. Give me all the Netflix for the rest of my life."
Jenna: It was hard.
Jessica: OK. So, the narrative. How did you flip that narrative? Because the negative narrative, the self-tap, I call it the "Itty bitty Bologna sauce committee" in my book if we’re gonna play polite. Was that people are following me because of this picture of my good-looking husband. You were almost feeding into, I don’t know. It’s like that whole thing we become what other people see in us. And so if we choose to see through their eyes then that’s what you would become. So, then where did you draw your strength from to say, "No. This is actually…I’m gonna use this into my strengths. I’m gonna use this to create more positivity." What flipped the script?
Jenna: I think that I realized we have an opportunity and clearly the world is hungry for something, that they cared about this story, that they cared enough to find me and follow us. And what we really noticed is there is so much problem because this post went viral. There is such a need that it is so crazy for people to believe that us size-10 women would have the audacity to marry a good-looking, handsome man. And we realized so many things came out of that where they would say Drew’s name and then they would call me "wife or woman." There was so much that we gleaned from that where we were like, "This is why we have to keep this up."
People need an example of marriage. People need to know there are more layers than just what we see. And we had to continue that conversation in a way that would shine a light, not just on our love, but on God’s love and “what does God say about us in our bodies?” And so we started to really move forward as a pair, as a united front because Drew went from 10,000 followers to 100,000 overnight. And so we started to say, "How do we show what a real relationship looks like? How do we talk about this in a way that isn’t always just about our bodies or the way we look, but about how we feel?" And so it’s definitely been this journey of figuring out “what is the message?” “What is the mission?” “And then how do we share that in a way that inspires other people?”
Jessica: OK. So, I’m gonna turn this a little businessy now because you talked about how Drew gained all these followers you did. This is a little bit of a tangent, but I can always bring it back. How have you converted those new followers that came to you from something very specific into your business classes, into your podcast? How have you been able to create business results from that viral post?
Jenna: Yeah. That was probably one of the first thoughts as a strategic businesswoman, which is exactly what I am, is like what do we do with these people? How do we serve them? And so a couple of different things have happened. So, I’ve taken on a few big sponsorships with companies like Aerie to continue that message and to be able to continue to share about self-love in a really big way with a company that I really genuinely love. But then also to make sure that we’re having conversations just like this on my own show, and to really continue that conversation. But it’s almost like starting over again. People don’t know that I started as a wedding photographer.
People don’t know that I’m an expert in X, Y, and Z. And so it’s so hilarious because I know if I post a photo where I’m in a bathing suit or in a bra and underwear, and I’m talking about body image, I know it’s gonna do really well. But then if I go to talk about the things that actually drive profits into my business, it feels like a flop, but I know every single person that double taps or hits like, that’s somebody that can be impacted in that. And so it’s definitely a different way of looking at it and it’s definitely a slow process. But putting out resources for every woman, not just entrepreneurs, is something that we’ve been totally challenged and caught off guard by. And it’s just one of those things, too, where you’re just like, "OK. Why are they here and how do we help them?"
Body Image and Motherhood
Jessica: Totally. It’s like you suddenly had to adapt really quickly to understanding this new audience and to recreate your business a little bit or just know how to channel them in. But I’m sure you’ve done an awesome job because girl, you’re one of the most strategic people I’ve ever met.
Jenna: Love it.
Jessica: OK. So, you’re pregnant. Congratulations.
Jenna: Yes. Thank you.
Jessica: So thrilled, so happy. That alone can trigger. Now, you came through it out of infertility. So, your experience, that might really be painting your experience in a really positive way. I know for me, I have such big memories of weighing myself when I was eight at the Weight Watchers meetings that I went to, that having to start weighing myself at these appointments brought all of that back. So, how are you approaching this new season of your body changing, which can again be such a vulnerable season? And tell me some of the things that you’re saying and doing to help be gentle with your body during this time?
Jenna: Yeah. I was telling you before pregnancy has not been easy for me. I wish I was one of those women who felt fully alive while pregnant, but I felt half dead while pregnant. And it’s been so hard because we prayed so much for this gift and this blessing and I do not take a single day for granted. Every day that I wake up and see that little app that tells me how long this baby has been cooking, I am just so thankful because after you’ve been through loss like we have, you don’t take this for granted. But from a body standpoint, it’s been interesting because I’m doing campaigns with some bigger clothing companies. And all of a sudden my clothes aren’t fitting and I’ve got to show up daily in outfits and feel good in them.
“From a body standpoint, [being pregnant has] been interesting because I’m doing campaigns with some bigger clothing companies. And all of a sudden my clothes aren’t fitting and I’ve got to show up daily in outfits and feel good in them.” Jenna Kutcher
And the other day Drew was shooting photos and I just was in this pit where I was just like I don’t even look pregnant, I just look fat and my boobs are huge and I don’t feel like myself. And he took these photos and I said, "Just for the sake of laughing someday, let’s take a few belly shots." And I actually looked at them and I was like, "Wow. I look beautiful."
Jenna: Kind of what you did with the swimsuit where I was, "I will never post these. Ever. They will never see the light of the internet." And now I’m like, "Oh, I cannot wait to share this because of this season." But it is this awkward transition and I was pulled into this comparison once again where I was searching the hashtag for "14 weeks pregnant" to see what other pregnant women looked like. And “Is my belly too big?” “Is it not big enough?” “Do I even look pregnant?” And I was shocked at that because I’d gotten past that or so I believed. And so right now I am finally feeling the baby kick and move and I think that it’s just been so helpful, but I actually had to do just a lot of work. I saw an acupuncturist because I was so, so sick and she said, "How are you doing?" And I said, "I am so disconnected from this pregnancy as a coping mechanism because I’m so afraid that we’ll lose it." And so I had to do a ton of hard work to even really be able to acknowledge that this was happening.
Jessica: Wow. And the weight gain?
Jenna: It actually hasn’t been that bad. I think I’ve gained… I’m halfway done.
Jessica: I’m not asking how much you weigh. I’m just saying how you’re responding to it.
Jenna: No. No, no. How it feels. But I’m saying my first trimester, I was so sick. All I could do was walk. And so it’s really hard for me to not be able to work out.
Jenna: And so now I’m finally able to go back to the gym and I just feel so powerful. I’m doing this stuff and I’m pregnant. And it just feels like I’m doing this for both of us. It’s just so crazy. But I gained about 10 pounds in my first trimester and I didn’t even know. I don’t have a scale at home, but I’m just trusting that my body knows what it’s doing. And that I am just doing the very best I can. And it was really hard being so sick because there were very few foods that I could actually eat. I was on extra hormones, had all these side effects. And so it was honestly like I was shaming myself. I said when I was pregnant, I would eat only organic and now all I can eat is mac and cheese because it’s the only thing my stomach can keep down. And it was just this like, gosh. It just never ends, does it?
Owning Your Truth (and Body)
Jessica: It doesn’t. And that’s OK. I think that if we have a point of arrival, we’re always gonna fall short. And I think if we realize that this is just a journey, and I think that’s what I really wanted to come across today, is we’re all on different spots in the journey, but we are all walking it out and we’re not ever going to arrive. And that should bring us a lot of freedom, a lot of freedom to be imperfect, a lot of freedom to go, "I am having a hard day." And not think, "Oh, my gosh. I’ve regressed by 10 years." You know? But just to say, "I’m having a hard day." Or, "I’m pregnant now. So, what’s this gonna look like now that I’m pregnant? How am I gonna feel about myself now that I’m pregnant?"
“We’re all on different spots in the journey, but we are all walking it out and we’re not ever going to arrive. And that should bring us a lot of freedom, a lot of freedom to be imperfect.” Jessica Honegger
I love what Oprah said and so many people have quoted her since. But at the Golden Globes this year, and she’s like, "Owning our truth, speaking our truth is the most powerful tool that a woman has." And she was talking about the "Me Too" Movement. But frankly when we can stand up, own our truth, and speak it, which is how your whole journey began when you had women wake up in the morning and you took a photo of them and they flipped it on you and said, "I’m gonna take a photo of you," and you posted it.
There is an element like let’s say this is something good about the internet is being able to come forward and once we begin to own our full truth and not own all the filters and try to correct everything that say, "This is me. This is me and I accept me." Then the change can come. And I think the change, I’m not talking about losing weight. I’m talking about self-love. That’s when change and then you’re driven not by fear in your journey to have a better body or whatever, but you’re driven by love.
Jenna: Yeah. Exactly.
Jessica: And gosh, I think that’s what we all want. Is to be driven by love. OK. So tell me…we’re gonna wrap it up. What is next for you? What are you up to now? I mean, obviously, you’re pregnant. I wanna know what’s in the works now with you and Drew now as y’all are collaborating more.
Jenna: So, we’re just really preparing for this next season. And I know people say, "You’re never fully ready." But I think with our past, we really are as ready as we possibly can be to embrace this next stage. And so I am on an automation kick for my business. I am really saying no so that I can say yes to whatever feels right when this baby comes. And I’m really trying to not set expectations around anything, whether it’s the birth or breastfeeding or anything like that.
I definitely have goals, but I want to be able to just trust that I will know what is best. And so I want to give myself the flexibility. If I feel like taking three months off or a year off, what does that look like as the powerful businesswoman and how can I just set myself up so that whatever feels right can happen without feeling too much sacrifice. And so we’re really excited for this next season. So many things are still gonna be happening and my goal and my vision for next year is to just be home a lot more doing what I love and being with the people that I love the most.
Jessica: I love that. I love that so much. And I love that you’ve been able to create a business that’s gonna be able to do that for you.
Jessica: That’s super inspiring. Thanks for being vulnerable. Thanks for being the first for me. You were one of the first to go. And I’m going now. I’m going now. It’s a book, man. That’s black and white. You can’t erase that off the internet. It’s just there. So…
Jenna: I’m so, so excited. And I’m just so thankful. I think back to those conversations in Guatemala and you and I were able to say, "me too" to each other more often than I think we even anticipated. And I think that that is the power of just sharing and showing up.
Jessica: I loved today’s conversation. If you resonated with any part of today’s conversation, then hop on over to Amazon or Target or wherever books are sold and get a copy of Imperfect Courage because so much of the book is really about embracing vulnerability. Also, if you haven’t left a review on iTunes for this podcast, could you go over and do that? It would mean so, so much to me. I share reviews on the podcast, I post them on my Instagram. And it just really helps us get the word out about this message of going scared and of embracing vulnerability and of embracing our own imperfect courage.
Thanks so much for joining me for today’s conversation. Our music for today’s show is provided by my good friend, Ellie Holcomb. The "Going Scared Podcast" is produced by Eddie Kaufholz. And I’m Jessica Honegger. Until next time, let’s take each other by the hand and keep going scared.