A’ja Wilson on How Authenticity Is Your Superpower

Women’s sports are having a major moment right now, with basketball superstars like A’ja Wilson leading the charge. Considered one of the best WNBA players to ever grace the court, A’ja is using her towering influence to encourage not only young black girls, but all women who have felt the need to change who they are to fit in. A’ja fought to be herself every step of the way in her journey of becoming a G.O.A.T. in the WNBA. 

In this uplifting conversation, A’ja Wilson opens up about the challenges she faced as a young black woman trying to be her authentic self. From an anecdote about confronting racism in 4th grade to the influential women who instilled self-love during her journey to the top, A’ja shares her playbook for empowerment with raw honesty. She discusses the motivation behind writing her new book “Dear Black Girls” and the importance of defining yourself instead of letting others do it for you.

If you’ve ever felt the need to shrink yourself to fit in or been made to feel “other,” A’ja’s wisdom will inspire you to embrace all that makes you beautifully unique.

 

Ashton Applewhite Unravels Harmful Attitudes Toward Aging

As we continue our series on facing our fears, we introduce a fear that many of us may not talk about comfortably, but in reality, we are all facing; the fact that we are aging. In case this is something that moves you into a state of deep denial, or perhaps you are employing a world of efforts (including for profit products and practices) to stave off the inevitable progression, or even if you are just taking it all in stride, we all are subject to what the world at large has to say about it and—mostly–it’s not positive. A pervasive ageist attitude infiltrates the media we consume, our own friend groups, and even what we tell ourselves consciously and subconsciously about aging. We come by it naturally, though–with deeply ingrained stereotypes and discriminatory practices that extend everywhere from the workplace to the bedroom. Our guest this week shares how she went from being an apprehensive boomer to becoming a pro-aging radical as she dismantles myths and debunks the portrayal of older people as societal burdens; with years of research under her belt, she dreams of an aging-friendly world. Ashton Applewhite is the author of “This Chair Rocks–A Manifesto Against Ageism,” and she makes it her life’s work to expose ageist behavior, and educate us all as to how we can stop giving aging a bad rap. Jen and Ashton take an eye-opening look at ageism as a form of bias as unacceptable as any other, and give us actionable steps to ignite “age pride,” keeping in mind that aging is an integral part of our life journey, not a condition to be cured or concealed. If you’re fretfully staring down the next decade of life with fear and denial, consider the possibility that being stressed about aging actually can cause the very things we fear about aging. Ashton sums it up like this; “If you learn about aging, you will be less afraid. That knowledge and information is going to confer all kinds of protection about aging as well as you possibly can.”

 

The Vagina Bible: Debunking Myths and Misinformation Around The Female Body Ft. Dr. Jen Gunter

Do you ever feel like you don’t have all the answers and information you need around your very own body? Are there beliefs or “facts” you might have learned that maybe aren’t actually centered around truth or science? Perhaps you’ve entered various seasons of your life as a female (menstruation, fertility, childbirth, hormone fluctuation, perimenopause, menopause) where you’ve felt like your concerns were dismissed or you weren’t given the tools, knowledge or treatment to help you navigate these season as well as you’d like. Whether you avidly seek knowledge about your body, or you’re bumping up against walls in what has been, historically, a lopsided research culture where male health has been more highly prioritized, we’ve got a guest today who is determined to correct that inequity with scientific and experiential information, research and active destigmatization. Dr. Jen Gunter is an obstetrician gynecologist and a bestselling author (The Vagina Bible, The Menopause Manifesto) who has made it her goal in life to “fix the internet” regarding information about women’s bodies and correcting the misinformation that runs rampant there; long held myths that cause fear, stress and even shame around our female physiology. Dr. Gunter debunks common misconceptions around our periods, our hymens (fyi, it’s not a “freshness” seal), synthetic hormones, menopause symptoms and more. Bottom line: you deserve to know about your body, and this conversation opens the door to finding true and accurate information that will help dismiss the fears you may have around all the seasons of your female health experience.  

 

Seeing and Loving Your Body (and Yourself) With No Shame: Jessamyn Stanley

We’re back with maybe the most foundational episode in our Being Seen and Heard series–and it’s all about how we see ourselves. Were you taught how to love yourself when you were growing up? Many of us never grew up hearing anything about embodiment, and maybe we’ve treated our bodies as “the enemy” for most of our years. Maybe you grew up in a time where you didn’t see people that looked like you, or had your body type represented in magazines, on TV or in movies. Perhaps you even had shame about your body (or still do), and you bought into diet culture and were constantly worried about your size and the number on the scale. It’s hard to see ourselves as beautiful when we’re looking outside ourselves for what that standard of beauty is. Our guest today is doing the good work of helping people see themselves differently, and it’s giving them freedom to love themselves for who they are today. Jessamyn Stanley has become a powerful voice for wellness and body acceptance (she also dubs herself the “Beyonce’ of yoga” – I mean who can’t get behind that?). After attending yoga classes with a friend, Jessamyn fell in love with it, but she noticed that she didn’t see anyone who looked like her or had a body like hers–and when she moved to a different city and wasn’t attending yoga classes anymore—she craved a community to share her practice–except she wanted all kinds of people and body types to be a part of it. She began sharing her yoga practice on Instagram back in 2012 and was amazed by the overwhelming response from many who had never done yoga before because they had felt just like Jessamyn had–that maybe it wasn’t for “people like them.” Her fledgling Insta-yoga classes grew into an organization called The Underbelly, a unique and inclusive digital wellness experience that now draws thousands of people into its safe and accepting space.

Jen and Jessamyn touch on these topics:

• Jessamyn’s experience with being ashamed of her body as a middle schooler and also being bullied for being different, and how she looks at those years of bullying as a revelation that everyone is self conscious about their bodies–bullies included

• The realization we all have at the end of the day; all we have is ourselves–and if we can accept ourselves as we are right now–not who we thought we should be, or who we might be–we’ll enjoy the ability to be fully present and authentic in all of our encounters

• Debunking the long held notion that many people have about black women (and also that black women have been taught to believe)–that they are “stronger” and “superwomen,” and what it means to allow themselves moments of rest and self-care

• Key changes that could be made to empower everyone to have their own agency toward self care, by making it possible for anyone–no matter how much money you make, or where you live–to participate in wellness practices like yoga

If we can face the truth about ourselves, and not turn away from the fullness of who we are–including the ugly and complex things, we can begin a journey to a shame-free life that will change the fabric of who we are and what we bring to the world.

 

Spring Back Series #6: Living Proudly with Sydney Hatmaker

It’s the last episode of our Spring Back series–and we’re wrapping it up with a conversation that was the most listened to (and commented on) episode in our entire For the Love podcast history–and it’s with none other than Jen’s daughter, Sydney Hatmaker!  Sydney first appeared on our show last summer, where she shared with the world that she was gay; walking us through her journey, beginning at 12 years old, and how hard she worked to reckon this with her faith and the beliefs of her family. This conversation between daughter and mother is so real, so brave, and if you haven’t heard it, you’re going to want to listen in as Jen and Sydney discuss some hard situations where religion and sexuality intersect and ultimately, how what they knew to be true about God and His love and mercy, was true for LGBTQ people of faith as well. And what better time to revisit our time with Sydney than during Pride month–plus we’ve got all new commentary from Jen and some updates about where Sydney is now in her life that you won’t want to miss! 

Spring Back Series #5: Finding Your Truth with Abby Wambach & Glennon Doyle

Are you ready to find your truth? We are currently in the tail-end of our spring back series where we are re-visiting some of our favorite episodes from For The Love past, and Jen’s bringing some all new insight and commentary to the conversation, as it is relevant to where we all are right now. This week we bring you the blockbuster combo of Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach! We love them here, but just in case you’re new, Glennon is a speaker, encourager, and a New York Times bestselling author with her most recent book, Untamed, passing 2 million copies sold–and she’s just started a brand new podcast called We Can Do Hard Things. Abby is an international soccer icon, bestselling author of the book WOLFPACK, and an activist for women and equal rights.  This powerhouse couple and their unwavering belief in women inspires millions, and their work to create a more beautiful world for everyone is aspirational. So, this week, we are springing back to their first time here, and stick around all the way to the end as Jen has some new takeaways about lessons learned and how we can take those and dive straight into the life we have always been meant to live.

Spring Back Series #4: Loving Fiercely with Marcie Walker

There are so many lessons in life that are evergreen; they stay with us through each season, and that’s why we’re revisiting some episodes that bring those truths home in ways that are so applicable to where we are in life. Right. Now. For this episode of our Spring Back Series, we are bringing back one of our favorites – Marcie Alvis-Walker. Marcie is the creator of Black Coffee with White Friends and is an incredible teacher, leader, and woman. The first time she was here, Marcie and Jen talked through what racism actually looks like in America, the ways our history is steeped in minority erasure, and how each of us plays a role in the way stories are told. And this is a topic that is not going away, in fact, it may be more prominent now than ever before. Plus, Jen weighs in with some all new commentary regarding some key events of the past year that relate to this timeless conversation and how we can continue to uphold the idea of putting aside opinions for just a minute so we can better listen and know our neighbor.

Spring Back Series #3: Embracing Authenticity with Luvvie Ajayi

Each day as we inch closer to summer, we are reminded of all the possibilities that surround us daily. The leaves on the trees are becoming greener by the minute, the grass is finally dense and fluffy, flowers are pushing their way through the dirt. And just as the earth evolves, so do we. That’s why we wanted to bring you the Spring Back Series. After a particularly hard year or winter, it’s hard to remember all that we learned the year before. It’s even harder to put those lessons into practice and find ways to evolve into the people we were meant to be. So today we are springing back to an episode we love featuring the one and only Luvvie Ajayi. You may know her as the New York Times bestselling author of I’m Judging You or as a speaker and podcast host. She exists beautifully at the intersection of comedy, media, and justice. She encourages all women to embrace their authentic selves and continually strive to be the best versions of themselves. So let’s spring back to Luvvie’s first time here with all new commentary from Jen about the impact of social media, the three steps we can take to be true to ourselves, and Luvvie’s new book, Professional Troublemaker. 

Spring Back Series #2: Growing Boldly & Simply with Emily Ley

Just as we rely on spring each year to bring light and warmth back into our lives, we also depend on the lessons of life that show up during each season. That’s why on this series of For the Love we are bringing back some of our all-time favorite guests. Not only to remind ourselves of what life was like way back when it was normal, but also to give ourselves the chance to look back on some life lessons that we should always carry with us. And this week, we are bringing you the one and only, Emily Ley. You know the superstar mom that built the Simplified empire from the ground up? Yes, that one. Not only does she guide women to live their lives based in simplicity, she also encourages them to evaluate what truly matters, and ditch what doesn’t. Jen revisits why it’s so important to not only clear clutter from your home, but to also clear the clutter mentally. Because once we take the time to remove the unnecessary parts of life, we are then able to live a life filled with joy and passion for what we actually care about. AND Jen has all new commentary about how decluttering gives you space to live simple and free and grow boldly–also the topics of Jen’s and Emily’s new books. 

Spring Back Series #1: Courageously Changing with Beth Moore

It’s new series time–and we’re “springing back” to some For the Love favorites, while bringing you some new thoughts from Jen’s heart in this season! As they say, what’s old becomes new again, and we can rely on spring every year to bring us that new growth; from the plants to the trees, and oftentimes within our own souls. This week we are bringing back one of Jen’s longtime inspirations and mentors, Beth Moore. Beth’s recent split from her roots in the Southern Baptist community after calling out the misogyny, inequality, and disregard for many minority communities has a lot of people talking. It was a big, huge deal, and Jen explains what this means to the Christian zeitgeist. Jen also revisits her favorite moments with Beth and dives back into how we can learn to live a life filled with faith even if that means pushing back against long held, and perhaps antiquated beliefs. So, let’s Spring back to our interview with Beth, and reflect on the biblical concept of the vineyard and how vines can grow in rocky places, opening space for God to prune and prepare us for change that comes with seasons of growth.