When Models Took Over The World

SuzannePotts59213_4.jpg// handsonhips.blogspot.com

SuzannePotts59213_4.jpg// handsonhips.blogspot.com

When I was in college, digital photography hadn’t been invented yet. Photoshop was still in the imagination of it’s creator, Thomas Knoll, and mobile phones were owned by presidents, FBI agents, and only the technologically adept of the world’s wealthiest people. People only took pictures on occasion, unless they were photographers, and there was no way to instantly delete something you snapped.

I'm on the left, my sweet friend Shannon is on the right.

I’m on the left, my sweet friend Shannon is on the right.


Photos were very different back then. Here’s one I have of me and a friend in college. I’m not crazy about how I look in this photo, but I obviously kept it because it captured a fun visit with a sweet friend. Until today, this photo probably has only been seen by a handful of people… maybe (kinda doubt it) I took the initiative to show my friend after I had the film developed.  I honestly don’t remember. But maybe because I didn’t even consider who might see it, I was free to be more myself in the picture. I didn’t feel pressure to look cute, thin, pouty or seductive. When it was taken, there was no worry about posting it or who else might post it for the world to see.


Boy have times changed. Does anyone look NORMAL or CANDID anymore in photos? Seriously, I feel myself cringing as I happen upon the selfies from girls across various social media platforms. I see lots of sultry looks, taken at the most flattering angle. MOST FLATTERING. Even when the photo is taken by someone else… I’ve noticed women, especially young women, have this certain POSE down. Do you know it? Hands on hips, shoulders back, knee popped.

Photos: left - hercampus.com / right - barstoolsports.com

Photos: left – hercampus.com / right – barstoolsports.com

Honestly, I’ve done it, and you probably have too. I recently went to an event and was kind of disturbed about how many photos came home on my iPhone of me in some version of that pose. It actually made me feel pretty embarrassed and super vain. I posted some of them and was thankful that it was a silly event, so all in all, I didn’t feel too narcissistic. It was all in good fun.


But… You realize people don’t naturally stand that way unless there’s a camera, right? Ever. The hand on hip thing is to make your arms look skinnier, but nobody thinks about it unless photos are being taken. Somewhere between 2008-2014, the camera phones turned us all into posers… yes, posers. POSING like… um, models? Weird. When did models take over the world? Why are we trying to be like them? We’re NOT them. Why am I worried if my arms look skinny enough? Who cares? I’m not going to lose a Covergirl job over flabby arms. It does not affect anything other than my own sanity.


Here’s a curious piece of info for you. When I went online looking for that little diagram on the bottom of the page, using key words like “posing, photography, diagram,” MOST of the images pulled up were highly inappropriate, and a ton of them were teaching pornographic pose technique. Interesting. What’s the connection, I wondered? Pornography is objectification. In the porn industry, cameras are not capturing life’s special moments. They’re capturing body parts and completely unrealistic situations. Poses.


I’m not saying if your hand is on your hip and your knee is popped you’re acting inappropriately or objectifying yourself. I’m just saying this… let’s think about WHY we act the way we do. Let’s refuse to follow the cues of online photos and be led around by our insecurity. Just like Cobie Caillat inspired women to go without make-up and actually “like” themselves, let’s be inspired to take photos that capture REAL LIFE. Who cares about the most flattering angle? Who cares about impressing anyone? Take a picture to remember a beautiful moment or a beautiful you… just being you.

Not a being a model.


Picture 51

Smart Girl Turns Two!

turning2Two years ago, on Labor Day weekend, I announced a very special kind of “birth” in my life – my book, Smart Girl, Stupid World.  I had “labored” for ten years to bring it to the place where I could actually hold it in my hands, and it was totally worth it.


My book is 2 years old today!


Going the self-published route was something I felt the Lord leading me to do because of some personal challenges our family faced as the final stages of the manuscript were completed. It was a way to get the book out quickly without having to endure the process of waiting for someone to “pick me.” I don’t regret the decision to self-publish, even though it can feel like a long and thankless process to actually get people to BUY the book.


There are a few moments I have cherished about these last two years as reminders of why I wrote the book in the first place.

  • Teenagers I barely know from church catching me in the parking lot to tell me that it really spoke to what they have been going through.
  • One of my youth girls from 15 years ago who is now a youth pastor taking her students through the book and being able to Skype with them when they finished.
  • Emails from moms who have been desperate to connect with their daughters, words of gratitude and joy over the conversations it has unlocked.
  • Meeting at a coffee shop every week to walk a precious 20-something through the materials and discuss her questions.


So, what’s next? I still really believe in Smart Girl, and I will still pursue avenues to increase exposure for it, but I am also quite excited about the next book God has laid on my heart. I’m in the research phase for that, and I won’t even begin to put a timeline on the manuscript. I feel impressed to pursue a traditional publishing situation with my next book, so many things will look very different in book number two.


Thanks for coming on the journey with me! If you’re just dying to give the book a birthday gift, you could write a review on Amazon. Me personally, I’m going to honor this day by riding a few waterslides with my family!

Sexting… Stupid? Yes.

First of all, don’t go to Teen Vogue for advice… about anything. But if you want to get a feel for the moral pulse of high schoolers, it might be {somewhat} accurate {frighteningly so}.


A recent online article in Teen Vogue about “sexting” focused on whether the practice of self-made porn is “sexist.” The concern, from the column’s point of view, is not whether it’s right, harmful, safe or stupid… the concern is whether or not the same rules apply to boys and girls who are transmitting the messages.


There were several teen and young adult responses, and I won’t repost them all. But a couple from the youngest ages represented stood out to me. Continue reading…

There will be NO BLOGGING in Heaven


A few months ago, in the midst of a very demanding season juggling family, work, and church involvement, I found myself feeling heavy under the pressure of expectations. I don’t think they were even expectations of people who are actually in my life… more like expectations from these phantom voices that I perceive to be all around me (especially in cyberspace) about all the stuff I “should” be doing to “build a platform.”


One day, with only one hour of free time in between my son’s soccer practice and another commitment, and I found myself feeling anxious and torn between two priorities. I could spend uninterrupted time in the Word and prayer, which hadn’t happened in awhile, or I could finally finish up a blog post and some social media promotion for my book. Whoa….did you just read that and feel yukky?? Ugh, I did.


I hated that I felt so conflicted in that moment, but I did. The list-checker in me wanted to finish the unfinished business and feel productive.


The Lord’s voice broke through my noisy and anxious thoughts, and I clearly heard Him say, “There will be no blogging in heaven.” Continue reading…