About the interview: Jenna and I first met as youngsters in middle school, and have grown closer and closer over the years. She’s about as cute as a button, and in our interview honestly shares her own triumphs with being petite and finding confidence. She’s a superb role model to her younger siblings, and shares some incredible thoughts on my questions during our interview. Read on for some major feels and inspo!
CC: What’s YOUR body image story?
J: Hmmm… Well I fall into the “petite” category, I was always the smallest in the class, the tiniest baby, still don’t understand what a “percentile” is… you get the point. Growing up I was super sensitive of how short and small I was. I will never forget the day I came home crying in first grade: we learned a fact that the size of your heartis the size of your fist typically. Some kid in class turned to me and said, “Wow yours is pretty small then!” He likely didn’t mean it as an insult. My short-already sensitive about my size- seven-year-old self- took that as he told me “I was a mean person with a small heart.” I was often the butt of a lot of jokes, although most were playful, but I always wanted to be taller. Especially when the sport I chose to stick with was…basketball. Needless to say my basketball career never made it past 7th grade. I am not sure when I finally began to accept my height… Maybe it was the fact that I have been 5’1 since the 7th grade? But I know now it’s nothing I can change. I spend money getting things hemmed and scan shops for petite sections, but being little is what makes me, me.
CC: Why is body image/self love/self acceptance important to you?
J: It is important to me for many reasons, one big one is I have a sister who is about to enter high school. When we were growing up, we obviously had the media and some Internet, but with Instagram it creates a whole new realm of fake. Photoshop is real, normal people use it for their pictures to alter their body, not even just celebrities. It creates this completely altered reality that people (like my sister) likely believe to be true.
CC: What has been your biggest body image struggle (or one you’ve witnessed)?
J: Finding health and wellness in college- I gained a lot of weight when I went to college, and for me having such a small frame, the weight really showed. I didn’t know at the time that I had gotten bigger and my clothes weren’t fitting–I was pretty much enjoying college and super happy at the time. I don’t regret it for a second because I was having fun, and it taught me the importance of truly taking care of myself on so many levels. I learned I could no longer rely on my metabolism—especially when on an all bagel/pizza/ramen diet.
CC: What has been your biggest body image victory (or one you’ve witnessed)?
J: Cleaning my act up in college, being active and finding work outs I enjoy doing—not to lose weight, but because I genuinely enjoy doing them.
CC: Have you always loved your body? How do you keep that confidence?
J: To be honest I don’t think I have ever “loved” my body. I have never disliked it, but I want to be at a point where I love my body because I worked for it.
CC: If you haven’t, how have you worked to get there?
J: I am my happiest self when I am working out and eating healthy. I am not someone that works out 7, or even 5 days a week—I don’t think I’ll ever be, at least not in the near future. I love cooking in general, especially healthy meals, and how I feel afterwards makes me genuinely so happy. I strive to do both more and more—in my photo here I had worked out and cooked healthy meals for a while leading up to that family vacation. I felt so ready for my bikini pictures, and loved how confident my sister was, too.
CC: Do you compare yourself to other girls a lot/feel pressure to look a certain way at times? Why do you think you do?
J: I don’t think I feel pressure to look a certain way now, but I’ll certainly look at things girls wear on instagram like friends or bloggers I follow, and find myself wishing I could wear something like they’re wearing. I simply wouldn’t wear what they were because I know I would not look “as good as” them.
CC: What’s one thing you’d say to your younger, middle school aged self if you could go back? Or to younger girls today?
J: Be confident- I am working on my confidence every day. If it would have started a younger age… I can’t help but to think how much more confident I would be now. Don’t be afraid to wear clothes different than your friends, play sports different than your friends, etc. Do YOU. Also, not everyone has a thigh gap, it’s simply just how people were made. Oh, and one more thing. Weight is a number-it’s about how your clothes fit, and most importantly how you feel. Don’t ever compare your weight to somebody else’s. It’s a waste of time–you and someone else’s body frame are incomparable!