Design

Five Fun Things

Strong Is the New Pretty

Strong Is the New Pretty, a new photography book that shows what it feels like to be a girl.

Who What Wear plus-size dress at Target

Target has great pieces in their Who What Wear collection. (Especially this jacket, shirt and dress.)

Amy Poehler

Five things I’d tell managers if I were about to die.”

Body Neutrality

Digging the idea of body neutrality. “My problem with body love, beside the fact that it’s a high standard, is it’s asking women to regulate their emotions, not just their bodies,” says Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, author of Face Value, told New York Magazine. “I don’t see the pressure on women really easing up, and then you’re supposed to have this bulletproof self-esteem on top of all that. It’s not something we can really live up to. Body love keeps the focus on the body. The times I’m happiest are when I’m not thinking about my body at all.”


I’ll admit it, I cannot wait for the next season of The Bachelorette. Attorney Rachel Lindsay seems smart and hilarious. Now I’m curious to see who the rest of her suitors will be. (And how cute is she dancing?)

P.S. An underwear trick, and 8 awesome podcasts.

(Photography book via The Cut.)

  1. Autumn Whitefield-Madrano’s comments on body neutrality are sage. As a society I really wish we could view women’s bodies more through a prism of health and self-care. I’ve been struggling to lose weight recently (necessary postpartum weight), and I’ve found it more comforting to think that I’m helping my body return to a healthy weight – in gratitude for the strength in growing me a healthy baby – rather than feeling blue about the fact that I can’t fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. It’s not easy though :-(

    http://www.thislifeisbelle.com

    • Mae says...

      I love this Belle!

  2. Mae says...

    One thing that helped me get over some of my body issues:
    I was out walking one day and asked myself, “If I found out I had cancer and would die within two years, would having the perfect body matter to me? Would I expend energy and time to achieve that goal?”
    From somewhere deep in my soul, I smiled and said, “no”. I would spend every minute hugging my babies, living in the moment, and spreading love!
    What’s funny, is once I had this thought, I seem to appreciate and love myself more :)

  3. That photography book! Ahh I’m in love, I gotta have it! Looks really convincing and inspiring <3

    Joanne | Life in Blue Skies

  4. I am excited for Rachel’s season of the Bachelorette too.

  5. Abby S. says...

    “The times I’m happiest are when I’m not thinking about my body at all.”

    I really identify with this. I’m in my early 30s, and while this has come with an increase in wobbly bits, it also comes with this great calm confidence. I have started to hit my stride in my career, and for the first time in my 30s I realize entire days have gone by when I didn’t think about my body at all. And then I congratulate myself and think, “There’s a doctor in this body!” That’s pretty cool!

  6. june2 says...

    I’ve never had strong feelings about my body one way or another. Thank god, really! I’m just so thankful I am super healthy and relatively attractive. I do work really hard to remain healthy and optimal but it’s more for health and well-being than look-related. Possible this is because my mother was always obsessed with her weight (pencil thin) and looks (totally attractive though she thinks she’s hideous!) .

    It just seems boring, negative and sad to be so obsessed with what others think of you, even more so if you just hate yourself regardless of how others feel. You are what you are! Still worthy of ALL the love! If there are things that need to change, then change them!

  7. Definitely feeling the body neutrality and I would add that I feel pretty great on days when I’m working really hard and I’m totally aware of my body working for me. For instance, a couple weeks ago I had to take a bunch of old trellises and a huge pond liner from my steep backyard up to the street for the garbage to collect. It was heavy work that needed to be done quickly because I had a small window to get rid of it. It took me an hour and a half and my fitbit marked that I climbed 66 stories. And, it was raining. The whole time I was thinking about how strong my legs, arms, lungs, and heart are. It was hard hard work, but it just reminded me that our bodies help us do the things we need to do. It doesn’t matter what our bodies look like, it matters how well they function.

  8. Alexandra Marie says...

    Okay so I walked through the clothing department of Target recently and I was pleasantly surprised with how cute everything was: “You go, Ava & Viv, I see that jumpsuit, Who What Wear” etc etc….. Until I got to the maternity section… Chambray button downs with drawstring waists again? Leggings again? Such a disappointment. Liz Lange needs to get with the program.

  9. Chelsey says...

    SHAYNA I loved your comment!

    I think this part is going on my chalk board and I’ve saved your entire comment on my phone.

    “It took me a long time to accept the duality within myself. While I don’t personally watch The Bachelorette, ” I’ve struggled internally with the versions of myself that are not consistent with the common feminist narratuve but I’ve decided my feminism means empowering women to be able to make their choices.”

    I’m sending this to all my girlfriends who secretly watch the Bachelorette!

  10. Susie says...

    Who What Wear at Target has cute pieces, but the sizing is AWFUL! Nothing for petites, most of the pieces are boxy and odd length hemlines. Pants that are all a mile long, skirts that hit at the most unflattering point on the leg, etc. I wish they would offer some pieces with petite proportions.

  11. Stephanie says...

    I really like the body neutrality concept. It was great to move away from skinny, but the whole emphasis on “strong” and “everyone must lift heavy!” is just as suffocating and judgmental. Same with the focus on having a round butt, like a flat butt is a sign of failure (probably because you failed to lift heavy). I’m 45 and dealing with a mild, vague pain condition that has limited what I can do for exercise. So I’m just plain skinny/small. I can’t train for that triathlon with you, or sign up for Crossfit. But you know what, I’m thrilled that I’m managing and even that 20 minutes of “lame cardio” in the morning is doing me a world of good.

  12. Emily M. says...

    Jeez this was good. In particular, that quote about the concept of body neutrality resonated hard. I mean, some days I love my body because it’s strong and pale; some days I hate my body because it’s soft and cellulitey, but some days I don’t even want to think about it because I’m freaking busy and leave me alone. xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i love you, emily m.

    • Laura says...

      Yes! And it can be such a fickle thing to depend on, loving your body. Sometimes I love my body because of its freckles, sometimes I hate my body because of its freckles, but at my happiest I’m not thinking about freckles at all.

    • Emily says...

      From one Emily to another, I totally relate and love your comment.

  13. barb says...

    In all the seasons, the Bachelor has been on television, I have never watched the show. I can’t believe people find this entertaining.

    Also as a black woman, who saw the promo of the guy saying I’m ready to go black and never go back” – well I know for sure I will never watch that show—-like really…I can’t.

  14. Shannon Mehner says...

    I sort of take issue with the new trend of saying “XXX is the new pretty.” Strong is what men are judged on, and I don’t think the point of shedding our ‘pretty’ label is just to aspire to the one men are given. We need to shed the labels altogether. Also what about females who aren’t traditionally “strong” – who are disabled or overweight or whatever it is that maybe doesn’t fit into the box of what society labels as “strong.” To me it feels like when we say ‘well I love my changed body because even though it’s not as slim + trim as it used to be it birthed a baby and that’s so amazing!’ And that is amazing, but bodies that are incapable of birthing babies or walking are amazing, too. I just dream of the day we stop aspiring to certain labels and instead aspire to let all people feel worth simply because they are humans and individuals.

    • shanze says...

      totally agree- its wonderful that some women are strong, i know i’m a ‘low- energy’ person- i HAVE to take naps or i’ll fall apart, I have low muscle tone & i go to work out to be as strong as a ‘normal’ person. I don’t even think about it- only when i feel bad for my kids who are waiting for Amma to wake up and play, but I live with the limitation even though others just see me as being lazy. I don’t need my daughter who has low muscle tone, is clumsy and pale as pale to have to feel like if she isn’t good at sports she isn’t good enough on top of the being pretty pressure. While we should all be proud of what we can accomplish, embracing a whole new asset that women need to have to feel good about themselves is kinda annoying. We are all valuable and and worth human dignity and respect because we exist, nothing more, nothing less.

  15. Carrie says...

    The body neutrality thing is how I live my life, yet even still I feel pressure to care more. Like it’s wrong that I don’t curl my hair, hardly ever wear makeup, am not as skinny as I was when I was 25. The issue of being beautiful as a woman runs really deep. All I’ve ever wanted was to feel alive and healthy because that’s when I feel most beautiful, so I’ll just keep my eyes focused there and press on.

  16. I thought it was SO UNFAIR to surprise Rachel like that! She wasn’t mentally prepared. But she handled it like a pro.

  17. I think the concept of body neutrality is SO helpful! That’s one of the things I talk a lot about as it relates to intuitive eating. It’s so helpful to move to a place in our lives where our bodies don’t define us, influence our behavior (i.e., not going to the beach – aka having fun – until you lose that weight), or hold us back from anything.

    http://hyggewellness.com/blog

  18. love that book! that will be my new go to gift for girlfriends. Does anyone have any suggestions for great books they’ve read lately? Joanna, I love when you all do posts that talk about which books you’re reading and hearing reader comments! I’m going on my honeymoon in less than two weeks and need some good reads for plane rides and beach lounging.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      good question! for a vacation, if you haven’t read Bossypants or Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, those would be great. I also loved The Mothers. And it’s fun to have a thriller on a vacation, so maybe something by Tana French? happy honeymooning!

    • Abby S. says...

      All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda and The After Party by Anton DiSclafani are two recent faves. I got the ideas for both from The Skimm reads section.

  19. Hannah Joy says...

    I remember discovering body neutrality one day as a teenager. I had just had the best day and wondered why? I realized that I hadn’t thought about my jiggly thighs for a whole day! I didn’t grimace while extolling them or denigrate them. I focused my energy into being a person, not a body. Since then, I strive to maintain that attitude, which is unusual because I think most adults spend years in therapy trying to undo their teenage years!

  20. Anna says...

    I have been thinking about our perception of the body (negativite vs positive vs neutral) a lot and this post helped me to get nearer to some sort of consensus. As a woman and a med student I’m the happiest and most proud of my body when it does the things it was designed and I’m lucky to be able to do. Like that Regina Spektor song, “I have a perfect body cause my eyelashes catch my sweat!” xo

  21. Katie says...

    RANDOM IDEA: I think it would be SO awesome if you did a post or two on resumes. I’m having trouble updating my resume without sounding like a corporate dweeb, when I know I’m a kick-ass, super-hireable lady! How do we talk about these things on paper, to strangers, who look at a million of these things?! I’d love to hear your advice.

    There are some great resume templates out there (for free or for purchase) you could gather – def a new thing since I last refreshed my resume 6 years ago!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you, katie, that’s a great idea!

  22. Emily says...

    To echo other comments- wow, the idea of body neutrality really resonates with me. I hadn’t heard of it before and I’m really glad you brought my attention to it. Trying to practice body love is totally exhausting and sets you up for a feeling of failure when you feel less than great about your current situation. I agree with the quote- I’m happiest when not thinking about my body at all!

  23. I was shocked at how excited I am for the new season of the Bachelorettte! Rachel seems so awesome and genuine. It feels like finding out your favorite junk food isn’t as unhealthy as you thought. And the dancing was just too cute.

  24. margaux says...

    strong is the new pretty is amazing, stunning and empowering (no, i do not know the author). we have THREE copies at my house because both of my daughters (aged 2 1/2 and 4 1/2) and myself are a bit obsessed with it. they ask for it almost every night at bedtime. the photographs are accompanied by short, profound quotes by the girls in the photos, from ages 5-18. i swear it has changed how my girls look at themselves, their bodies and their possibilities. i cannot recommend it more.

  25. Beth Ann says...

    Eeep!! I am SO excited to see the Girls on the Run photo on Cup of Jo! Two of my favorite things in life have collided :) I became involved with GOTR in 2010 while living in DC for grad school and then founded a chapter in Shreveport, LA in 2013 when we moved here for my husband’s residency. Such a special program and I wish it had been around when I was younger. I love that it’s part of the book, Strong is the New Pretty.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so awesome, beth ann!!! going to check it out more right now.

  26. I love, love, love those first pictures of strong is the new pretty. how i remember those days of youth soccer!

    xo, brittany
    http://www.notablob.com

  27. t says...

    I love the idea of body neutrality. In fact that is exactly what I practice. For me it just came with age – I don’t have the energy to care enough. I don’t hate my body, don’t love it either… I just don’t think about it much. I love feeling strong, I dislike feeling like my clothes are too tight and I just accept it for how it looks and appreciate it for what it give me. My kids say my belly is a bit big and I tell them it is just more for them tickle.

    • Em says...

      Wow, this is really inspiring for me. Thanks, T!

    • Aimee says...

      I can’t say I’m quite to the point yet of fully not hating my body, but the self-loathing has definitely diminished a LOT as I’ve aged and I focus on it a lot less. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been but I’m also the oldest I’ve ever been, too, so. Ha! I’m not resigned that everything automatically has to go to hell after 40 but at the same time, it’s just not as upsetting to me anymore that those size 6s are long, long gone. I wish they weren’t, but would my pretty decent life be any different than it is now if I fit smaller pants? Nope. Well, actually, yes: it would be worse, because I’d be depriving myself of things I really, really enjoy in order to keep the weight off. My overall health is good and I really do need to get 20 lbs off my frame to be at a better height/weight ratio, but those pounds don’t take up the same headspace that they used to.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “it is just more for them to tickle” = love that :)

  28. Annie says...

    I found that body neutrality came quite naturally to me after I became a mother. Before I’d be so caught up with being sexy, I was so vain and took countless selfies, and would love when men looked at me appreciatively and women envied my flat stomach or fun style. But now my brain just doesn’t have the space for that anymore! I have moments when I miss my prebaby bod, but mostly I am just focused on making my body stronger and more capable to keep up with my growing toddler and nourish my nursing 5 month old. I don’t worry about being sexy because my husband is in love with ME, not my body and I have no interest in having other people view me in a sexy way. And I don’t really care about being envied by other women anymore because women are so much more than their bodies or clothes. It just doesn’t matter. At all. As long as I’m healthy and my body performs how I need it to, what does it matter what I look like?

    Body neutrality ties in beautifully with “Strong is the New Pretty”. We are not born into this world to be pretty!

  29. Rae says...

    I believe we should look at body love the same way we look at any other form of love; my husband, my kids, my friends. None of them are perfect and I still have a deep love for them all. I think body love should be less about “my body has to be perfect to deserve love” and more about finding the beauty in my own imperfections. And on the days I can’t find that I aim for self-compassion.
    The same way I wouldn’t look at my family and point out imperfections, I am also learning to be kind to myself.

    • Hillary F. says...

      This is wonderful.

    • Lauren E. says...

      What a great perspective. Thank you for this.

  30. Betsie says...

    I love the idea of body neutrality. It makes me think of my late Oma. I didn’t know her well, but from the stories I’ve heard and photos I have of her, she was a woman who was thinking more about keeping her five boys out of trouble, laughing, and being a strong, warm, resilient, and loving human. I think old-school German women in general probably have a lot to teach us about this. I thought about this a lot when I was visiting family in Germany this summer: how the standard for women, particularly as they age, is not to maintain a rockin bod or wage a life-long battle against wrinkles, but to be competent, strong, and capable. Maybe it’s time to reclaim and champion the term hausfrau?

    • Yes! I have definitely learned about body neutrality from living in Germany and hanging out at lakes where grandmas, moms, and their daughters are all running around nude like it is the most natural and neutral thing in the world. The FKK (Freie Körper Kultur) crowd figured this out long ago :)

  31. Justine says...

    Body neutrality…. that just blew my mind a little. Isn’t that true though, that we are happiest when we are not thinking of our bodies at all. Or when we concentrate on how our body feels vs. how it looks. Going to the gym post-baby has been so rewarding for that reason. In the past, I went to the gym to try and tone up and look my best (man, I already looked pretty good…. hindsight….) Post-baby, I have totally different goals at the gym: build muscle and endurance, get more energy, feel some endorphins, take time for myself, listen to fave podcasts, etc. I feel like it clicked so late in my life that exercise/the gym should and will make you *feel* good. Now I go to the gym for that reason. It has been so liberating. If sh** gets tighter in the process, bonus.

    • Rebecca says...

      I love when you ladies show us what you have been looking at and finding online. The body neutrality article is fantastic and thank you for including plus size looks!

  32. I love this painting of the woman on the rock. I stopped scrolling for a moment and just observed her. It felt a lot like I was observing myself. The other day, I posted a series of stories on Instagram where I was hashing out some ideas I had for my blog (as one does), and shortly after I finished up the stream a friend from high school messaged me that I was thinking too much about it. “That was a rant,” she said, “you do you.” Maybe I’m making too much of it because I do tend to be sensitive, but that’s just the problem. I feel like I’m not allowed to be sensitive or analytical or obsessive, all of these things I’ve always been and probably will always be, because now there’s this “you do you” mentality, as though this simple phrase is supposed to erase all our internal discord and make everything okay. I think in order for a woman to pursue confidence, she must make peace with her doubts and fears. Brushing off someone for making an effort to consider their wants and necessities with sardonic popular phrases didn’t quite hit the same endearing note. It felt dismissive and skirted around the actual problem. Granted, it wasn’t a very serious problem on my end, but it was the idea that this attitude could be affecting women more seriously, because there is this dangerous idea flaring up in the women’s movement that we are supposed to be strong and confident and graceful while forgetting to acknowledge the very agonizing work it takes to obtain such qualities.

    • Also, I realize this comment is not even 100% relevant to the article notated in the post. I guess it was just nagging me.

    • Wow, so true. For the record, my favorite instastories are when people give you a peek into how their brain works behind the scenes, or hash things out. It can be funny and endearing or insightful too.

    • Lisa says...

      Your comment doesn’t have to be related… I loved this so much. So so much. It has my wheels spinning and although I don’t have some profound and witty reply, I wanted to thank you for sharing that.

    • This is beautifully said Wren. I teach and am currently integrating emotional intelligence into our curriculum. One of the central tenets is that emotions are not good or bad. To have sustaining emotional intelligence we must be able to recognize our own emotions (a difficult and complicated task often) for what they are and understand our choices in dealing with them. Among those options is talking about the feeling or just sitting with it; ignoring the emotion is not one of the options!

    • Anita says...

      Wren, The agonizing work of being strong, confident and graceful. YES. I agree with you completely. It is such a challenge to find space for fragility, vulnerability (or humanity) alongside. The result: hiding our breakdowns.

  33. Yes, ditto: thank you for sharing the article about body neutrality <3

  34. Brooke says...

    I really enjoyed that Body Neutrality article. Self-love and body-love can seem so unachievable at times, almost like you’re going from 0-100! It can feel defeating if you don’t love yourself all the time or love every aspect of your body. This concept seems much more realistic and accepting.

    I would love to hear from more women about their self-love journey or body neutrality on your blog. It could be an interesting question to add to your beauty uniforms. SO many women struggle with this and its helpful and validating to hear how other women are coping and have found or are learning to find acceptance with their body.

  35. I live in fear of the day my athletic, math and engineering oriented five year old loses faith in her abilities. I love that our culture is finally embracing strong, successful women instead of focusing just on being pretty (although there is still way too much of that going on as well). I’m lucky that my daughter has wonderful role models. The women she knows are lawyers, engineers, programmers, etc., and many of them are also athletic (her tee ball team mom is an ironman athlete!), but I know first hand how society can dash a girl’s self-esteem. I hope this generation fares as well as I think they can, and I hope our generation can really help them get there (ahem, family leave policies, ahem).

    In regards to body neutrality, this is the idea I’ve been waiting for! I actually wrote a blog post a while ago about how the “love your body” cheer-leading felt like a burden to me . I’m so happy to see someone articulate it so well and put a positive spin on being just ok with your appearance. Here is the link to my post if anyone is interested: https://melanieshepardstephens.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/stop-telling-me-to-love-my-post-baby-body/ (I’m also just now realizing I haven’t blogged in close to a year! Yikes! I don’t know how you keep this up, Joanna!)

    • Brianna says...

      I don’t how she does it, either. I know she has a team, but still. I deleted both my blogs (somehow, I acquired two along the way) because the upkeep was too much. I don’t miss it.

  36. Stephanie says...

    Amen to Autumn Whitefield-Madrano’s quote above. I may be in the minority for never having slipped into body hatred, but “body love” for the sake of itself is a goal I have never embraced, either. I’ve often felt pressured to weigh in (no pun intended) on my feelings towards my body and encouraged by magazines and self-help books to cultivate that “bullet-proof self esteem” Autumn mentions. My inclination has routinely been to opt out in favor. Basically, if it [my relationship to my body] ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have better things to do.

    • Sarah King says...

      YES AMEN!!! + 1 to this neutrality movement.

  37. Karen says...

    I’m surprised that you (and many others) find The Bachelor and The Bachelorette entertaining, considering you seem to support feminist causes (as we all should because it’s really just being human). The idea of The Bachelor still running on television for all these years for the sole purpose of trying to get a date with a rich, hot guy is so disgusting to me. Whatever happened to “we’ve come a long way, baby…”? Because in some instances it looks like we really haven’t. Maybe I’m just overthinking it!! Anyway, love your blog and all the topics you cover.

    • Emilie says...

      The Bachelor is not rich. But I see your point (:

    • Amanda G says...

      Karen, I was surprised as well! It was a bit jarring to get to the last item of this round-up about being a strong, confident woman and get…the Bachelorette?!?!? One of these things is not like the others.

    • Alexandria says...

      I have to chime in as well, because I feel the same way. I find that even in my circle of confident, smart, feminist friends – that they are tuning in weekly to watch this disgusting show. I have had such disdain for The Bachelor since it began and now The Bachelorette. I’m not a fan of reality shows in general, but these ones make me both incredibly angry and sad for the women that are on it. Am I missing something?

    • Shayna says...

      My brand of feminism allows room for both; we can care deeply about body neutrality, equal pay, and reproductive rights while watching The Bachelorette, trying the newest face mask, and caring about matching our socks to our purses. We are all nuanced people, and we’re our collective best (for the movement and ourselves) when building each other up rather than undermining the choices of others.

      It took me a long time to accept the duality within myself. While I don’t personally watch The Bachelorette, I’ve struggled internally with the versions of myself that are not consistent with the common feminist narrative. But I’ve decided my feminism means empowering women to be able to make their choices. We should all be so lucky to be able to choose to be a stay-at-home mom or a CEO; to watch The Bachelorette or to read We Should All Be Feminists before bed.

    • Lauren E. says...

      If the show somehow involved tricking people into relationships then I would agree with you. But all involved are completely aware of the situation and volunteer to be on it. As far as I can tell, The Bachelorette is a smart, successful woman who decided she wanted to be on reality TV and date some dudes. That doesn’t feel anti-feminist to me.

    • Sandra says...

      I don’t understand it either. I actually watched it a long time ago when it first came on but as I got older it became more and more offensive to me. I watched it this year just to try to understand why it was still on and why so many people were still watching it, but I didn’t get it. Besides the obvious reasons I don’t like it as a woman, it is so scripted that they are still using the same language from every other season (if I hear “this journey” one more time….). As for next season, Rachel seems great (and too good for a show like this), but once one of her suitors said “I’m ready to go black and never go back” that was a enough a preview to confirm that I’m ready to sit this one out permanently.

    • Jill says...

      I think one of the reasons that so many people are looking forward to the next season is that it’s the first time an African American woman will be the bachelorette. After 33 seasons.

    • Laura says...

      I haven’t seen the show, but for me, supporting the feminist movement does not mean I have to deny myself from things I find enjoyable or guilt trip others that find entertainment value in something. I’d rather have many be “bad feminists” (shoutout to Roxane Gay), rather than no feminists if we’re all falling short of the term’s expectations. I’m allowed to care about female empowerment, but also about what’s the latest hair treatment Chrissy Teigen is using.

  38. I have not watched the Bachelor/Bachelorette in quite a long time, but I will be watching now! So excited for Rachel and this season.

  39. Yes! I love Rachel Lindsay. I’m so excited for her season.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s so cool, nicole!

  40. Grace says...

    In regards to your Strong is the New Pretty post, check out http://www.GirlsUP.org. It’s a DC based summer program for girls ages 10-13 which aims to help them figure out who they really are before they experience the self-esteem backslide most girls go through. I’ve got my daughter signed up for this summer and I’m so excited! Sqeee!!!!

    • Emily says...

      What a cool idea!