Couple’s photo sparks body image debate


Keenan and Jazzy Owens standing on a hill overlooking treesImage copyright Jazzy Owens

When 25-year-old student Jasmine “Jazzy” Owens shared an Instagram image of herself and her husband Keenen in their bathing suits, she recalled how she “could never understand why” he would be with her.

Her picture went viral and has sparked a conversation about how society judges female bodies, compared to their male partners. Now she’s spoken to BBC Trending about how a bout with depression inspired her to chronicle her journey to accepting her body as it is.

Owens wrote on Instagram that while she had struggled with her body confidence, her husband had loved “every curve, every roll, and every stretch mark on my body”. She added that she was now on a path to accepting herself as she is and encouraged other women to do the same.

Image copyright Ryan Wilhite
Image caption This image of Jazzy and Keenen went viral on Instagram

The post has received more than 69,000 likes and hundreds of comments hailing her as “great role model for women” and “inspiring”. But the online conversation also brought out the attitudes that she’s trying to fight back against – with people ready to judge her by her looks.

Jazzy reposted one that told her to “stop your delusion, these pics are gross and has already been shared as a meme.” Others comments were far more vitriolic – pointing to how Jazzy’s body type was different to her that of her gym-honed husband.

Jazzy told BBC Trending that she has been called “fat, ugly, unhealthy, that I’m going to die young, that my husband is cheating on me or only in it because I am rich” – something which she points out is not true. “I never thought that it would blow up like it did,” she says. “When it happened, I was in complete shock. Anxiety through the roof, mixed emotions of happy and scared at the same time.”

Image copyright Jazzy Owens
Image caption The couple have known each other since they were teenagers and have two children – MaKaylah (3) and Keenen Jr (5)

Jazzy decided to make her Instagram page public and share images of herself on a “journey to loving my body” after she had experienced a bout of depression.

“I hated the way I looked during the depression. But when I started feeling better, I thought I should share that experience and inspire other women that my be going through the same thing to feel the same way.”

Image copyright Instagram/ @a_body_positive_jazzy
Image caption Jazzy decided to document her journey to body confidence on Instagram after a bout of depression

“Even though it scares me to have the whole world see me, it also brings me joy to know that I am not hiding any longer.”

The couple live in Honolulu with their two children, where Keenen is posted in the US military. They’ve known each other since elementary school.

The husband in the picture, Keenan, told BBC Trending that he is supportive of his wife’s decision to share her fitness goals on Instagram. “It felt amazing to see my wife story being shared across the world as inspiration for other young women,” he says.

Image copyright Instagram/ @a_body_positive_jazzy
Image caption Jazzy shares images of herself and Keenen exercising together on her Instagram page

But has Jazzy been put off sharing more images by the negative comments? “Not at all,” she says “this response has motivated me to love myself even more and to try to help other women and men love themselves – no matter what they look like”.

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