It’s rare that an Instagram account can bring you joy. Actual joy.
One that you look forward to seeing. Because they make you laugh, smile, and think.
Maybe they talk about baking. Skincare. How to be successful financially….
Or maybe. Maybe they talk about butt pimples. Being confident in your body no matter what it looks like. Laughing after you find a trail of toilet paper following you. Why working out is more mental and physical. Codependency. Anxiety. Strength.
She has amassed over 161K followers on Instagram and yet she still feels like your best friend.
She lives a swanky fun life in NYC and yet she still seems like your cool next door neighbor. Accessible.
She’s silly as f*ck and also tuned in.
She’s worked with some of the biggest brands you can think of (one of the leading ladies for Adidas), used to be an NYC Soul Cycle instructor (no easy feat), and runs her own brand full time which focuses on empowering women to feel confident in their own skin.
I’m so happy to bring you this GIRL TALK session with Jera. We talk body image, love, Instagram, and confidence. And we get specific.
I reached out to Jera via IG– told her all about Violet Fog and the gems I’ve interviewed, said I wanted her on the blog and right away- she was game. No back and forth. No snobbery. Just pure enthusiasm to talk about her passions and life with the Violet Fog audience– with the notion that yes, we’re keeping this thang real. It’s going to peel back layers and it’s going to provide value.
We set up a skype date. She’s totally her bubbly self. We talk about things we want to go over, and basically get right to it.
She looks cute AF btw, in her classic Jera gold earrings and Spicy Grandpa Thatcher (her doggo) next to her on her lap.
First topic? Body image. Because we’re getting right to it.
I wanted to hone in with Jera around this topic because she is one of the few on the gram who often talk about how she looked “then and now.” And she does it in this way that is so confidence fueled. So open. So free in being herself.
Her then is when she was a SoulCycle instructor. Often teaching three classes a day. #HolyShit
Her now is her today- not teaching SoulCycle. Feeling healthier. Less physical exhaustion. More on her body’s own natural rhythm.
Has she seen changes in her body? Of course. And I love how she views the whole transition. (Please view the then vs. now post I am talking about. It’s so powerful.)
Jera: “It’s crazy, my body has gone through such huge changes over the last few years. SoulCycle was a huge chapter. It was something I had to work so hard for: mentally, emotionally, physically…. eventually I wasn’t finding joy in my day to day life of being a SoulCycle instructor. Overall I wasn’t feeling good. In relation to my body, I had reached this level of exhaustion that I had never felt before. My body felt this intense… emptiness. Not in a depressed way; in a drained way. I felt my body withering in on itself. I even ate a ton of food and I just could not keep up.”
“When I look back on what my body looked like a year ago compared to now… to me it’s a wonderful thing because it’s this physical representation showing that I made the right choice for myself. Even though I’m proud of the girl who, in my opinion, was a little bit too skinny for her body and exhausted, I’m still so proud of her because I know how hard she worked to get to that point in her career at SoulCycle. Essentially, that girl is the foundation of who I am right now. I look back at her with admiration. But I also look at my current body and my current state of mind with admiration because I left something that wasn’t working for me.”
I love a woman who honors her body at all phases. Don’t you? Makes you think about your own body and how you honor it.
“I don’t look at myself now and think ‘Oh goodness. I’ve gained weight. I have less abs! My thigh gap isn’t there anymore!’…. to me, that’s of no concern because I feel so good and so much better. That’s what counts… it’s that. It’s how you feel.”
I tell Jera, this is important for women to hear. That they have the ability to, and should, love their bodies at all stages. She’s humble about her messaging, but agrees.
“It’s important to share because…. I feel I have a gift in a way. A gift in that I feel so OKAY with how my body has changed…. so many women’s bodies change and they don’t feel that. They don’t feel okay. If I can feel okay with the changes, how can I convey that and show that on my platform so that hopefully other women can get to that point as well? I think about that all the time.”
I tell you what, Violets… one peruse through her Instagram and blog and you will see this really is something she cares about: helping women feel confident in their bodies.
Many people saw Jera in a long-term relationship on Instagram in 2018. You know the deal on social media, we often see the ups… the highlights, the lurrrrrve.
Being the open book that Jera is, she shared with us that her boyfriend and she had broken up. What’s refreshing is her candor in it all. Vulnerability, stories about co-dependency, never being single for long, stepping into this new realm as a single woman with the big platform she has. She shows the rougher waters of love that people get through. We start with her breakup…
“….Amongst so many moving parts in life, this one was hard. My relationship ended and it was more of him breaking up with me.”
Jera pauses… almost like there’s a pang in her throat. Breakups are hard for anyone, I don’t care who you are. (And boy do I know about being broken up with.)
“It’s funny how things happen to you that are really bad, and with a little bit of time you start to realize how much of a gift it was… everything that’s ever happened to me that’s been bad, has somehow turned out to be a positive, or at the very least a lesson.”
“My recent breakup… well, I’m a serial monogamist. I’ve been in back to back serious relationships since I was 16. I’ve had 5 serious boyfriends- I’m 29 now. I’ve realized I need to learn how to be alone. And how to date and love myself. I’ve realized that… I need to set my standards higher. It’s an important lesson I finally needed to learn.”
Too often women stay in the same patterns that aren’t working for them. Knowing your worth and leveling up– it comes from a place of self-love and reflection.
“I’m so loving. So giving. So willing to do anything for someone that I care about. I tend to overlook when I’m not getting that in return. And I tend to make excuses. Like I’m giving 110%…. but I think that 50% or 60% in return is acceptable. And that’s not acceptable. We deserve equal love, time and effort back. I need to work on no longer letting this be acceptable (not getting 110% back in return.) I need to learn when red flags present themselves that I need to stand up for myself and say ‘no, this isn’t right’… “
Fuggin’ LOVE IT. I ask her how the dating scene is in New York. I wonder if it is similar to dating in San Francisco. She gives me the longest sigh and tosses her head back. Laughs a little bit.
“Ohhhhhh man. I’m currently dating- I’m on two dating apps right now. I’m working with Hinge which is appropriate because now it makes total sense in my life… Dating is hard because I feel it’s equal parts exciting and equal parts frustrating. There’s so much hope in it and so much disappointment.”
Good GAWD do I feel this. Don’t all of us feel this who have “dated” in the last 4 years. The tech boom. The age of choices around every corner. Of getting to know someone online first. Or even if you do meet them in person, stalking them later online before the first date! Etc etc…. etc. I feel it.
“When you meet someone and you click with them, it’s really exciting! And then there’s like, this sort of upswing, and then you might not hear from them, and it’s like ‘Did I do something wrong?’… you think, ‘Is this just a game?’…. And then there are all these questions going on in your head.”
GAMES. Everyone on the planet experiences them. Or plays them. Either way, it’s just a part of dating and we’ll be on one side of the coin at one point or another. But then there are the times you meet someone really great…
“And then you might meet someone who is really wonderful. But you don’t feel any chemistry. So you’re like ‘what is wrong with me?’ Why don’t I like this really nice guy?”
The amount of times I have asked myself “why don’t I like this really nice guy?” is too many times to count.
“It’s trial and error. It’s important to date a little bit, use the apps but then take a break and not get so consumed by it. It’s easy to get sucked in.”
I tell her how exhausted I used to get going on dates. How it was so fun and so exhilarating but yes, TOTALLY exhausting at times. Minus one long distance 6 month relationship, I was single over a span of four and a half years before I met Dan. I tell her this- yo, I too was a single gal not long ago! I get it.
We agree that none the less, no matter how many dates, it takes doing the work and putting yourself out there if you really want to meet the one. Or the next real catch.
“You have to do the work, but it’s draining. If you want to find that connection, most of us have to put the time, money, effort and heartbreak into it before you find something great.”
I ask her how hard it is to date with such a large Instagram following. I can’t relate to a following that large, but I do remember going on dates where guys had learned of Violet Fog beforehand and would read up on me before date one. It was always something I was concerned about, especially since I’ve written so much about love in the past.
“I am careful at first… I don’t list my profession. I don’t list my Instagram account. Obviously, my name is not very common, so if they put ‘Jera’ into Instagram they could quickly find me but I usually wait to tell them what I do until we’ve been texting awhile or until we meet up in person. I prefer in person. I’m always a little worried that the reaction is going to be negative because the term ‘Instagram Influencer’ can have a stigma attached to it. I try to explain it in a more meaningful, deeper way. Because it is meaningful to me. I find most people are really interested and think it’s cool.”
“I think what is more challenging than telling them what I do… is the fact that the last 3 and a half years of my life is accessible through captions and photos. So, essentially I can meet someone… and he can scroll back through my feed and see something like my butt pimples post before we even kiss… or read about my breakup. Or mental health… that’s the strange part. I wish I could tell them about certain things first rather than have them just read it. I don’t feel exposed to my followers because that feels like a community, but I do feel exposed when it comes to dating.”
I relate. And tell her– “Back up, can I just say I LOVE the butt pimples post?” I love women giving other women permission to be imperfect. Which brings me to my next topic with Jera….
“I think it’s so important to share both the highs and the lows. When you share your insecurities or challenges that you’re going through, it builds a stronger connection with people. It makes people want to root for you more when the good things happen. Because if you’re only talking about the good things- it seems shiny and too perfect and inaccessible… but when you share the vulnerabilities, it really draws people in because they see your more human side. This goes for both Instagram and real life. Moments of imperfection is where the power lies.”
I can think of the many times Jera has been vulnerable on Instagram: social anxiety, breakups, men being degrading, talking about gaining weight or showing photos with not the best lighting… I think about how much I’ve appreciated her showing both sides of the coin.
“There’s something really powerful in letting people know they’re not alone. Whether it’s butt pimples or failing at your dreams or getting dumped, or a family member getting sick. These are things so many people experience and when they happen it can feel isolating. So when you read something and see someone else is going through it too, you feel like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders. Like you really AREN’T alone. So that’s why I do it. For connection and to create a safe space for people to reflect on their challenges and successes.”
I ask her…. what’s next?
“I’m in this exploratory phase where I’m figuring out who I am, what my brand is, what I want to do, how I want to reach people, and where I want to expand. I don’t want to just be posting photos on Instagram. I want to do more than that. I feel like I’m at this crossroad because I don’t really know how and I think that’s where the struggle and the frustration comes in. I know there is something great in the next step- with what I can do and how I can connect to people, I just don’t know exactly what that is. It’s a transitional state.”
I talk to her about something she conducted on the gram called The Confidence Challange. It was 5 challenges over the course of 4 weeks to get her community involved in upping their confidence levels. It was super interactive– and clearly, an area where Jera brings value to the people following her. Helping them with confidence while she also helps herself.
“To me, confidence is something that is so important and I’ve realized over this last year that it’s something I feel really passionate about. Perhaps that is how I’m going to expand my brand- to reach people on a deeper level. I have found so much confidence over the last 4 years- from my Instagram to leaving a job that made me miserable, I moved a million times, I’ve gone through relationships, the SoulCycle journey, I’ve started my own business, I’ve taken public speaking classes… I’ve gone through so much and I’ve built so much confidence through all of this. I feel like a different person. I feel happy and powerful. That’s what I want to share with other people, especially women.”
I ask her about the emotional tolls regarding Instagram. Because this is something I often feel. When content doesn’t perform well. When you get completely different reactions than you expected. When something falls flat… these are things modern day creators face on a weekly basis.
“Do I face these things? YES. 100%. It’s interesting because I think even the average user experiences these emotional spikes when scrolling and comparing their lives to others. When it comes to being an Influencer, I feel it on the level of engagement. The algorithm has changed everything. I used to get 6000 likes on a bowl of oatmeal. Now it’s not like that anymore. It’s really hard when it’s your job and you’re putting your heart and soul into everything and then your post doesn’t do well. Especially when you compare it to other people’s engagement rates. That’s the kicker- it feels like you suck, like no one wants to see your content, like you’re a failure…. I feel like only recently have I started to get out of that headspace and not allowed it to affect me quite as much. Engagement always fluctuates and I know that even when it’s not great, there is at least one person who is seeing my message and it’s made their day better. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. It’s always about quality.”
What. A. GAL!!! For more inspiration (and laughs) from Jera, PLEASE do yourself a favor and follow her on Instagram. The handle is @Jera.Bean and the blog is www.JeraBean.com. You will not regret it! Expect higher confidence in yourself, laughs, and a good friend on the gram. A total win on social media.