Sep 2015

Why I spent the day naked at the most popular tourist spot in SF

When a very talented artist emailed me asking if she could “paint me” I of course said yes.  When she told me she really meant paint “on me” and I would be naked, and in public, I hesitated, but knew in my gut that it was going to be a powerful experience.  Then she told me her series was about celebrating the many different forms of the female body AND that my work had a role in inspiring this series. That did it, I was all in.

Trina Merry is a visual artist who paints on people and documents the work with photography and video.  “I love that my work is literally alive- it has a heartbeat and a breath,” Trina told me.  Trina has recently been featured on CNN. You can watch her feature here.

Trina has been working on a camouflage series where she paints people into the background of iconic places all over the world.  In fact, Trina told me that our last Live More Weigh Less challenge actually inspired her to take the trip!  I asked her to share her story below:

From Trina: My friend Melissa Hoffman (also Sarah’s friend and makeup artist) joined the Live More Weigh Less Lifestyle instagram challenge and I thought- I can buy myself flowers and flaunt red lipstick?  What a fun idea!  I joined in and felt happier and observed that my days were more holistically-focused.  I was inspired and re-examined my beliefs about my life and body. 

(Want to join our next challenge? You can sign up here.)
The first series that really culminated from this inspiration and self-examination was my “Lost in Wonder” series, where I travelled to the “Wonders of the World” making gorgeous, meaningful art.  It was a very courageous move for me to do such heavy travel and really pursue my passion on a global level.  In the end I decided traveling around the world and painting was more productive than sitting at home worrying about how I looked in a bikini.

I found myself rock climbing in the Wadi Rum desert, swimming in gorgeous cenotes in Mexico, covering my not perfect body in Dead Sea mud, cave exploring on Easter Island, climbing stairs to a monastery in Petra, walking the Great wall of China and across the desert by the Giza Pyramids for the perfect shot, hiking in Machu Picchu and so much more!  And yes, I even went bikini shopping in Buenos Aires where they appreciate and celebrate curves.  I started changing the way I ate and adding more protein to my diet so I could try keeping up with my Navy Seal trained male model and I felt stronger and sexier than ever.  It really is true- deciding to live more made me feel so beautiful.  I’m glad I didn’t wait and just took that step of courage to do what I love.

I’ve joined Live More Weigh Less and am looking forward to my next adventure.  I am currently touring around the United States and want to travel this winter to where indigenous cultures are still practicing bodypaint.


I mean, this is truly Live More Weigh Less at it’s best. I’m so proud of Trina.

SO! Trina was in San Francisco doing a “twist” on this camouflage series…

From Trina: “San Francisco: Visions from the Fog” has an interesting twist.  It is a female body positive series that examines various stages of womanhood- including a baby, two pregnant women and an older former Vogue model. I have seen other women transformed through my art for the last 9 years and now, these women and pursuing this art form are changing me.

The works were informed by classical art history paintings including works by Raphael, Botticelli, Giotto, Manet, Matisse, and Frida Kahlo.

I love painting pregnant models- it’s always touching when I’m painting a maternity belly and the baby presses back against the paintbrush.  Also, getting to paint my fresh baby nephew and a mature female model were new and very moving experiences for me.

On the day we were painting, I was pretty nervous.  I had no idea how hundreds of tourists on Lombard Street (the curviest/steepest road in the world) in downtown San Francisco were going to react to a naked pregnant woman hanging out.

Trina gave us (me and Melissa Hoffman the other woman in the piece) a thong and pasties to wear, which helped a lot but as I dropped my robe to allow her to paint me, my heart started beating a million miles an hour.  Were people going to laugh?  Were we going to get arrested?


After just a few minutes we were gathering quite a crowd of international tourists from all around the world.  What was so surprising was that people just stood around quietly observing Trina painting us as if they were staring at Frida Kahlo’s “Two Fridas” itself.   

 A few men in their early twenties did walk by, point and giggle, but it was clear that it was out of their discomfort and not out of disrespect.

Many parents with young children brought them over to explain that I was pregnant and to point out how beautiful we are.  Families, children and pregnant women wanted a picture with us and you could tell it was because they were really quite impressed with the art and our courage.

The biggest lesson I learned from the day, and the real heart behind Trina’s work is that beauty does not come in one form of a young-slim-victoria-secret-model-esque person. Beauty comes in every form imaginable.  Just like art, our bodies should be celebrated by what makes them unique, not the same.



P.S. Here are a couple more photos from Trina’s San Francisco series.


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  • This is so amazing. You are so brave! I’m not sure I would’ve had the courage to do this. Beautiful.


    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Andrea. It took some courage, but once Trina shared more about the project with me, I knew it was a must-do.

  • CJ Loomis

    Love it, Sarah. You go, girl.

  • This. Is. Awesome. And beautiful. And genius. What a fabulous thing to have experienced.

  • That is amazing!!!! You go girl. That is so gutsy… I don’t even know you (besides from your posts) and I am so proud of you!!!!

  • Melody Guy

    What beautiful images. What an amazing project of which to be a part.

  • Wow, this is inspiring. It takes courage to do this, I’m very lucky to have stumbled over your blog and to read about your stance on things. Lovely <3

    • Sarah Jenks

      I’m glad you’re finding some inspiration here Anni. What is something outside of your comfort zone that you’ve been wanting to try?

  • Tosha

    Sarah…..that is incredible!!!! Trina is phenomenal. I actually am tearing up while I type this because I was so touched by your amazing bravery, vulnerability, strength and power you are sharing with all of us. Your message is not going on deaf ears here, sister! You are a beautiful soul and so incredibly bold to inspire the world to change their viewpoint on the beauty of feminine bodies. After all, we are all spiritual beings in a material world….let’s relish in the beauty of individualism and spend our energy loving each other UP for all the gifts we own within!!!!! Thank you, sweet girl. Love you to pieces!!!! By the way….you all look amazing!!!!!! What an incredible experience that must have been. Big loves!

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Tosha. I wholeheartedlly agree.

  • Jen S.

    Soooooooo beautiful! You are very brave and that my friend is AWESOME!

  • This is beautiful on every level, Sarah! You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  • Heather

    Beautiful, courageous and truly inspiring. Such a wonderful project. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rita

    This is incredible!!! What an amazing artist, and amazing experiment. Way to go Sarah! Way to push out of your comfort zone! I love it!

  • sarah, these are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this powerful experience.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you. I hope you find some inspiration here Renia to step out of your comfort zone and do something you may never have before as well.

  • Amber

    You are amazing! Such an inspirational role model for all women.

  • WOW!! These are just GORGEOUS… as are all of you ladies!!! It’s so eerie to see the images in each of the settings. It’s as if we are seeing transparent apparitions or spirits presenting themselves in each instance. Just beautiful! Congratulations for taking this huge step.

  • Fernanda

    This is beautiful! I love your message and it’s really gorgeous work! So glad you were so courageous! Bravo!!! Much love.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Fernanda. I’m hoping this inspires you and so many of the women here to do something that’s out of your/their comfort zone. It’s a truly rewarding experience to do something we thought we never would.

  • Mashela

    Wow! That was beautiful Sarah

  • Megan

    I am speechless, Sarah. And weeping. I can’t even imagine seeing this gorgeous display in person… what a brave, courageous, meaningful, simple, and complicated event to take part in. Thank you for sharing!

  • Lorena

    You are my role model. There is so much strength, courage, beauty and honesty in you that I can’t understand where does that all fits in.
    Thank you once again for being your most honest self with me and every one of us, thank you for walking your talk and thank your for being an amazing woman who truly believes that every woman is different and different is AMAZINGLY better than perfect.
    I sincerely admire you and love everything you do.
    A big kiss and a little one for that beautiful little piece of you, Annabelle.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Lorena, this means so much to me. Thank you.

  • Mary Ann Pauls

    This is unbelieveable. It is breathtaking. Wow! I love the way she painted and you all were part of the back round landscaping. She has an amazing talent. I loved it. Living art. Thanks for sharing. Mary Ann Pauls.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Mary Ann. Trina is a truly gifted artist and this was an amazing project to be a part of.

  • Shannon

    You amaze me and inspire me because you walk your talk. Thank you.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Shannon. I think this is something really important in the world today and I teach from my experiences so it means a lot to have this safe space to share them.

  • Mary Crego

    When I first read your blog I thought that’s got to be really uncomfortable. But, the pictures are beautiful! I love it when women of different shapes and sizes are represented.If it was me, I frame your picture as it truly is art.

    • Sarah Jenks

      Thank you Mary. I haven’t thought about framing it, but that’s a wonderful idea.

  • Mikki

    Wow! These are fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing. As the mother of a 16 year old artist, I was so happy to see these. My daughter has been using her body as a canvas for years – since she was 4 – I have always supported her, and now can show her these lovely works of art. You have inspired my thoughts about the human body, and have prompted me to take one step closer to appreciating my own!

    THANK YOU!!!

    • Sarah Jenks

      Hi Mikki! I hope your daughter found them inspiring as well. I’m sure she is very talented. I’m so glad this piece has inspired you as well to be more loving towards your own body.

  • I am truly blown away by this incredible living, breathing art and service to our world! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! And thank you, Sarah, for your courage and leadership.

  • Britta

    It’s really beautiful. Glad you had the courage to do this. I’m proud of you. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Wow! This is extraordinary and Inspiring. Thank you for saying “yes!” To this project!

  • Wow, Sarah. What an incredible artist Trina is and how courageous of you to partake. A reminder to say yes to things that scare us because these experiences can be truly transformational. Both of you are so inspiring <3

  • As an artist and curvalicious woman, I absolutely LOVE this! Having taken art classes where I sketched a nude model, I always wondered how the experience was for the women baring it all. These pictures are SO beautiful, captivating, and amazing! I don’t think it’s brave, I think it’s freeing and I applaud you for it. Thank you for sharing. You are truly beautiful! Truly!

    • Hi Mia. Thank you for your love and support. As the model, it was definitely very freeing once we got started.

  • I love that you shared this. You really are a pioneer.

Sarah Jenks

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