Three Things I’m Done With: Fear, Hiding, and Donald Trump

Guest Post by the beautiful and ferocious Cara Greene Epstein

Okay, so I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s this guy out there who has made it his business, both literally and figuratively, to engage in and promote body shaming. This shaming is primarily aimed at young women, though if you read the volumes of his quotes on this subject, you will see that no one is safe. Apparently, this is the one area in which he does not discriminate.

Body shaming is a very personal issue for me, one that I’ve grappled with pretty much every day, all day long, for almost as long as I can remember. So much of my sense of self-worth is tied up in how I think others will see, perceive, and feel about my body. I ain’t proud of that, but there it is. Truth.

Shame feeds on the shadows. On whispers and doubts and looks and assumptions. On a million tiny little fears with beady eyes and long fingernails that hide in all of the nooks and crannies of a day. Or an hour. Or a moment.

This shame, any shame, depends on two things to live: fear and hiding.

So those are two things that I’m done with.

195 lbs. That’s how much I weigh. I know because I just went to the bathroom and pulled out the scale (from where it was hiding, of course) and stood on it. 195. That’s my number.

I’ve been within 10 lbs. of this number for the last four years and I’ve been ashamed of it, of what it means, the whole time. But here’s the thing — here’s the thing that guy is helping me realize — I don’t think it means what I thought it meant.

See, that guy believes that this number makes me less than. Makes me difficult. Makes me incapable. Makes me a disaster. And I kind of believed those things, too.

And then I thought about all the things I’ve done over the last four years. And you know what? That guy and I were wrong. 195 doesn’t look like a disaster at all.

Here are some of the things that 195 does look like:

195 looks like running a half marathon and winning a medal the size of your head.

195 looks like writing, co-directing, producing and starring in a feature film, and then winning an award for it.

195 looks like having two healthy, awesome babies and helping them become healthy, awesome kids.

195 looks like teaching your art to classrooms full of students and challenging them to use said art to better connect with themselves, each other, and the world around them.

195 looks like celebrating 14 years of marriage to your best friend and the greatest guy on the planet.

195 looks like stepping up and taking on the challenge of a full-time job while you continue to pursue your passions.

195 looks like rocking the red carpet at your own movie premiere.

195 looks like pursuing a second graduate degree.

195 looks like dancing at Wrigley Field to a band you’ve been following since you were 17.

195 looks like volunteering at your kids’ schools and helping out people who are important to you.

195 looks like passing your physicals with flying colors.

195 looks like super fun vacations and celebrations with those you love.

195 looks like stepping out of the shadows and into the light.


195 looks like any other number. Cause when you really take it out and look at it, that’s all it is, just a number.

So let’s all live our lives in the light and celebrate how awesome we truly are.

And please, let’s not elect that guy in November.

Cara at her movie premiere, flanked by two kickass women who are also much more than just their number.

Beauty Coup 100 – Celebrating You!

The time has come for our very special edition of Friday Feminist Funtimes: Beauty Coup’s 100th Post, Celebrating YOU!

Thank You, ever so much, to all of you who sent in your responses. Beauty Coup is a movement by you and for you. It means so much to us to hear your inspiring words and see your beautiful, 21st century self-portraits.

It never ceases to amaze me how hard we are on ourselves as women. Quite a few responses to this call for submissions included some version of the qualifier “This was really hard…” Unfortunately it seems our instinct as women is still to focus on the parts of ourselves that we think need ‘fixing’. And as one of our contributors pointed out, women have a tendency to judge one another, so we are hesitant to speak out about ourselves in a positive light, for fear of sounding arrogant.

It is precisely because women have such a hard time seeing their own beauty and value that Beauty Coup exists. It is because we believe we will accomplish so much more by focusing on our strengths, and celebrating the beauty we see in others.

We don’t just want to make it easier for you to see your own worth, we want it to be second nature.
We want you to be free of the insecurities that hold you back and make you second guess yourself.
We want you to wake up each day with the inherent knowledge that you are beautiful and powerful beyond measure.
We want you to take that power, go forth, and conquer the fucking world.

* * *

“I am beautiful cos (sic) I love without judgment. If you are or have been in my life it’s because you are wonderful and I love you. No judgement just love. It doesn’t matter what my opinion of you is, or anybody else’s for that matter – if you need me and I can, I’ll be there. Be who you want to be and I will support you to the best of my ability. As the Beatles said ‘all you need is love.'”
– Jessica O.


“I am beautiful because I am finally accepting all of my parts, thoughts, and creative ambitions. Om Namah Shivaya.”

– Catharine P.



“I am beautiful because I know when to give myself a break and laugh. Oh and also I have the nicest legs on this side of the Mississippi :)”
– Maggie K.



“I am beautiful because I believe in myself.  No matter the anxiety or struggle that peeks out from time to time, I somehow always shake it off and make magic.”  
– Izzy M. 


“I’m beautiful because I’m strong and funny. I’ll punch you, then I’ll laugh! Just kidding.”
– S



“I am beautiful because I have brains and booty, and I love both of them fully!”
– Kira H.



“I am beautiful because I follow my heart!!!!!”
– Hannah J.



“I am beautiful because of my gentle inner strength and the steadfastness of my bravery.
– Gwen E.



“I am beautiful because of the people I have met and places I have been!
Throughout my travels I have seen people from all walks of life from all corners of the world and by seeing the world you see beauty everywhere. And being a citizen of the world I know that I too am beautiful!”
– Marel H.
“I am beautiful because finding the beauty in others takes no effort, and my baby blues.”
– Megan A.
“I am beautiful because my body is capable of magic.”
– E
“I am beautiful because you are.”
– Georgina H. E.
“I am beautiful because i am a badass lady who gets shit done.” 🙂
– Amelia A.
“I’m beautiful because I’m living the life of my dreams. And wearing makeup when I feel like it.” 🙂
– Katie B.C.
“I am beautiful because my daughters look up to me.”
– Paloma P.
“I am beautiful because of The Light in my life.”
– Alisia D. 
Jennie 2
“I am beautiful because I am loved.”
– Jennie S.
“I am beautiful because, at age 33, I am stronger and more flexible in both mind and body than I’ve ever been in my life.”
– Lynzie B.
 “I am beautiful because I am. I am beautiful because I make my friends laugh.”
– Vanessa A. R.
“I am beautiful because I am strong. I’m climb mountains strong, all in on a life of uncertainty strong, chop wood strong, put myself out there even though it’s scary strong, run for miles and miles strong, and live by my values even though I’m almost always the odd woman out strong.”
– Richenda S.T.
“I’m beautiful because of all the amazing women in my life that encourage me to take risks, strive for more, and gossip endlessly with me over loads of red wine.”
– Lucy D.
“I am beautiful because I am strong, authentic, radiant, and full of love.”
– Tiffany G.


Cheers to all of you and your powerful beauty. Thank you for supporting Beauty Coup, and for helping us to celebrate you! #beautyrevolution

Friday Feminist Funtimes – #MightyKacy

The bulk of Friday Feminist Funtimes came a little early this week, with a look at some of the highlights in our pop culture revolution.

So today we’ll keep it short and sweet. As one of the announcers said, “There is no limit to what this woman can do.” #MightyKacy

Pop Goes the Revolution

Thirty-five isn’t what I would call old, but it’s old enough. It’s old enough to remember a time when daily doses of feminism were only found when sought out. To get a regular fix of Girl Power, you needed Bust or Bitch or Ms. Magazine on your nightstand, Ani or TLC in your discman (what’s up, 90s!), and Thelma & Louise on a constant loop in your DVD player.

What a revelation to look around nowadays and find that feminism is Everywhere. On TV, in the movies, in comic books (!!), music videos, and spilling from the pens of former CW stars. The Lady Movement has gone Pop.

But don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t mean we’ve won. On the contrary, the message of each and every one of these women is (in essence) that feminism is still needed. Sexism still thrives, male privilege still exists, and there is still a lot of work to be done.

All the same, I have to say… Seeing so many of us fighting the good fight? Feels pretty f*cking good. Here’s a sampling of delights to fuel your feminist fancies:

Colbie Caillat – 
I’d heard her name but never her music. Time to give her a listen.

Jenny Lewis – Just One of the Guys
So much to love in this gender bending song and dance. Special props to Annie’s faux-break dancing, for making me bust a gut.

Viola Davis speaks
to seizing a role in television, where female characters are almost always more dynamic than their silver screen counterparts.

“I have gotten so many wonderful film roles,” she acknowledged. “I’ve gotten so many where I haven’t been the show — I’ve been invited to fabulous parties to hold up the wall. I wanted to be the show –  to have a character that took me out of my comfort zone, and that happened to be on a Shonda Rhimes show. So I did the only sensible thing and took it.”

Orange is the New Black got **12 Emmy Nominations** because it’s one of the greatest shows ever!! Laverne Cox is the first trans actress to be nominated for an Emmy!! So Stoked to see these ladies on the red carpet, struttin’ their stuff.


(Let’s hope the TV Academy gets their sh*t together next year for Tatiana Maslany and Orphan Black.)

Um, the new THOR is a WOMAN.
As if that isn’t enough, the series writer Jason Aaron drives home the fact that this new character is no spin-off, sidekick, watered-down version of Man Thor: 

“This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Get it, Marvel!

Leighton Meester
isn’t the first person who springs to mind when thinking of feminist actresses. A lot of you may not even know who she is. Before today, I mostly knew her as Blair Waldorf (aka, she of the enviable wardrobe) on Gossip Girl. After today, I will know her as the actress who wrote that kick-ass piece for the Huffington Post about playing the character of Curly’s Wife in Of Mice and Men.

starlet feminists


Emma Watson has stated her feminist views before. Now she’s following in the Jolie’s footsteps by working for the UN. Emma “Hermione Granger” Watson will be joining the gender-equality branch, focusing on work with the HeForShe Campaign. Of this new adventure, Ms. Watson states:

“Women’s rights are something so inextricably linked with who I am, so deeply personal and rooted in my life that I can’t imagine an opportunity more exciting.”

Our little witch is all grown!

Some of you will nay-say this to rooms of your own and back, but I Like What Pantene Is Doing. #NotSorry.


There you have it, renaissance women! Not only is our revolution being televised, it is Everywhere. And because no pop culture feminist blog post is complete without her:

sparkle bey


Friday Feminist Funtimes: To Shailene or Not Shailene?

The thing about writing a blog centered around bolstering positive body image and dissecting representations of women in the media, is that one never finds oneself lacking in topical content.

There’s the power of the Book Girls and the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign to consider, or the practice of using T&A as click-bait for feminist articles to discuss. Endless consideration could be given to the horrifying, violent, misogynistic rampage of the UC Santa Barbara shooter – further evidence that sexism isn’t just, like, totes annoying, but is in fact fuel for brutal, savage acts against women.

These are all subjects that deserve our time and attention, and may one day be broached on Beauty Coup, but today we’re going to talk about Shailene Woodley. This is Friday Feminist Funtimes, after all, and Shailene Woodley is causing a real fuss about the word ‘feminist’ and what it means to Shailene Woodley.

For those of you wondering “what’s a Shailene Woodley?”, here’s a quick primer:
She’s a young actress who first got attention as George Clooney’s tiresome teenage daughter in The Descendants. She’s also on the verge of some mega-stardom with two huge films out this year: she’s the lead in both Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, two extremely popular YA novels.

In addition to her film successes, Shailene is also known for being an outspoken hippie vegan who shuns labels, loves mushroom powder, enjoys sunbathing her vagina, and doling out hugs “…so you know I’m real, and then you’re real too.”

This is Shailene:


This is what Shailene has said about feminism…

From an interview with Time magazine:

Is she a feminist? “No because I love men, and I think the idea of ‘raise women to power, take the men away from the power’ is never going to work out because you need balance. With myself, I’m very in touch with my masculine side. And I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are. And I think that is important to note. And also I think that if men went down and women rose to power, that wouldn’t work either. We have to have a fine balance.

…My biggest thing is really sisterhood more than feminism. I don’t know how we as women expect men to respect us because we don’t even seem to respect each other. There’s so much jealousy, so much comparison and envy. And “This girl did this to me and that girl did that to me.” And it’s just so silly and heartbreaking in a way.”

Then she went on to clarify these thoughts with The Daily Beast:

“…the word “feminist” is a word that discriminates, and I’m not into that. I don’t think there has to be a separation in life in anything. For me, bringing up the whole “sisterhood” thing was about embracing each other’s differences. Embrace my point of view even if it’s different from your point of view, but see that our end goal is the same. The way that we’re getting there might be different, but as long as we approach life with kindness and compassion, that’s all that matters.

I was talking about this with one of my close girlfriends… and she said, “Listen, Shae: labels are labels. I don’t need to label myself because I know who I am.” That clicked for me really hard, and it was this defining moment in my life that I’ve taken with me and encourage others to do the same. Labels are for other people to understand us, so for me, I know how I feel and I don’t need to call myself a “feminist” or “not a feminist” because I know what my truth is. If you need in your own mind to say that I’m a feminist so you better understand where I’m coming from and what my ideals mean, then that’s for you. Labels are for people to understand one another, not for us to understand ourselves. I know where my cayenne sits in my spice cabinet.”

The unequivocal Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip recently posted a link to a summary of Shailene’s views on Celebitchy, alongside the statement, “I think Shailene Woodley is a dumbass. Do we agree on this?”

Do we agree?

I agree that substituting the word feminism for sisterhood or even humanism is a bit of an eye-roll-inducing cop-out. But, I’m a decade older than Shailene. I am of the Righteous Babe era, when so many of us wore Feminism as a proud badge of honor and courage and sometimes outright warfare. Not with the battle cry of We Are Superior, but rather We Are Not Objects, We Have Just As Much Value And Worth As You. I want her to own the label because to my mind, feminism is misunderstood, in part, because so many feminists are afraid of embracing the term.

I agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who defines feminist as “a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes.” It’s that simple. If you believe in those things, then you are a feminist. It irks me when Shailene claims that feminism is divisive, discriminatory, and intent on raising women above men. To imply that loving men = can’t be a feminist, or being in touch with one’s masculine side = can’t be a feminist is pure idiocy. So in that sense, I agree that she sometimes sounds like a dumbass. Or at least like someone who has completely misconstrued the message and intent of feminism.

What I do love about Shailene is that she’s an atypical starlet and a contrary voice in Hollywood, aka a sea of predominantly indiscernible young female voices. As much as I brandish the label of Feminist, I agree that labels can sometimes be more trouble than they’re worth, and that we often take them on more for others than for ourselves. For example, I don’t need to label my sexuality for myself, but when people become very inquisitive I choose to give them the word queer. I use that word precisely because it requires explanation and sparks conversation, and because neither straight nor gay nor bisexual encompasses who I am. So if Shailene continues to shun the label of feminist and it continues to trigger tête-à-têtes with a young Hollywood actress about feminism (instead of just her diet or her love life or her fashion sense), well then bully for Shailene.

Another reason I do not agree that Shailene is a dumbass, is because in spite of her distaste for Feminist she is broaching really important feminist topics, even in polite company. When she appeared on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon asked her about being compared to Jennifer Lawrence. Because of a piece in NY Magazine, we know that this portion of the segment ultimately didn’t air because of Shailene’s response. First of all, she said, “Well… Comparisons always lead to despair.” And then the audience booed her. I don’t understand why that answer called for booing. But there it is, our collective consciousness. “What’s wrong with comparisons?? JLaw is Awesomesauce!”

Shailene went on to say:

“As women, we are constantly told that we need to compare ourselves to a girl in school, to our co-­workers, to the images in a magazine… How is the world going to advance if we’re always comparing ourselves to others? I admire Jennifer Lawrence, but she’s everyone’s favorite person to compare me to. Is it because we both have short hair and a vagina? I see us as separate individuals. And that’s important. As women, our insecurities are based on all these comparisons. And that creates distress.”

That right there is the opposite of dumbass. Those are valuable insights into how women are perceived and scrutinized and pitted against each other. I suspect this didn’t make the final cut of the interview not because Jimmy Fallon has issues with gender politics, but because gender politics do not jive in the Crackle Happy Pop world of The Tonight Show. Which is a shame, because we’d all be a little better off with some challenging of the status quo served up next to our double turtleneck ping-pong.

Shailene is young. She knows what her truth is at 22. As a fellow outspoken, opinionated woman, I sure as f*ck knew my truth at 22, too. And like most of us who’ve been through our 20s, my truth has changed a bit since then. Shailene’s truth is very likely to evolve over the next five to ten years, and even if she occasionally sounds like a dumbass, I for one hope she keeps talking about it.

La Vie est Belle and Cancer Sucks

As often happens in your thirties, a lot of my favorite people live in different parts of the country and I don’t get to see them very often. Two such far-flung loved ones were on my mind this weekend as I sat down to watch a new show on ABC Family called Chasing Life.

One of those far away friends lives in California and makes his living as an actor. He was featured on the show, and admittedly my initial impetus for watching was simply to support him as his star continues to rise. The other far away friend lives in Tennessee, and her life has been completely upended by repeat sparring matches with cancer.

For starters, I need to thank M for being the reason I sat down to watch this show in the first place. Second, I need to long-distance-hug G. Because of her, I connected to this show in wholly unexpected ways.

Chasing Life is about a young woman who is blindsided by a diagnosis of leukemia at age twenty-four. The pilot episode introduces us to her and her career as an ambitious, newbie reporter, her newfound love interest, her BFF and her matriarchal family, and just barely, her cancer.

I’ve never watched a show on ABC Family before. The promos I’ve seen for that network often look somewhat cheesy, and I admittedly can be resistant when it comes to schmaltz. But I have zero regrets about the 45 minutes I spent with Chasing Life, and here’s why:

The Bechdel Test: Chasing Life passed right out of the gate with flying colors. The opening scenes were between the protagonist, April, and several men in her sphere (boss, uncle, interview subject – Go, M!), but within the first 12 minutes she’s unapologetically owning the brand of Feminist (which gave me more of a thrill than it probably should’ve in the 21st Century), and shortly thereafter, we’re introduced to her sister, mother, and grandmother, and they all – guess what! – have more to talk about than men. So not only has Chasing Life already won me over with its lady-centric awesomeness, but it’s clever and funny, too.

The world is not white (!): This is TV, so of course everyone has to be gorgeous, but I’m happy to say that everyone is not gorgeous and white. The show was adapted from a Mexican TV series, Terminales, so April and her family have a vague, not-totally-white vibe about them. Moreover, April’s coworker is Indian, her boss is black, her bestie is black (and… Australian? …British? had trouble pinning down the accent), and these characters are all presented without hubbub or commentary. It’s more along the lines of ‘there are people in this story who happen to be people of color’, or as I like to call it, life.


The Carver Family – Chasing Life

Schmaltz is not king: Sure, there was a decent amount of schmaltz. The younger sister is Troubled and winds up Wasted at a Party because of a Guy Who Is Bad For Her. The grandma is Feisty, the mom is a bit Flighty, and the boss is Stern and Demanding. But the schmaltz was outdone by the quality of the writing, the engaging nature of the characters, and an impressively unexpected twist at the end (hint: cancer isn’t the only curveball April will have to navigate).

Women at the helm: Lastly, I learned from M that there are lady writers at the helm of this show, and I learned from the interwebs that these lady writers, Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz, are also Executive Producers. If you’ve been with us even a short time, you know that Beauty Coup is the champion of quality programming created by women. So to sum up, Chasing Life is winning on many fronts.

Where it hit me in my heart muscle is of course in how much it made me think about G. I don’t know what lies ahead for fictional April and her fictional leukemia, but for several years now I’ve watched the all too real journey of G vs. breast cancer.

If you know someone with cancer, then I don’t need to say any more. If you don’t, take a moment to be thoroughly grateful for that blessing. Then spend some time with G over at her blog, My Left Tit. Witnessing the actual experiences of an actual person dealing with actual cancer is as sobering as it gets. It is also a fire-fueling, rabble-rousing, eye-opener. Even while they live, cancer can rob people of their lives. If Chasing Life gives even a glimpse of that, it will be doing a service to those living with cancer by illuminating the truth of their realities.


Chasing Life airs on ABC Family starting June 10th. You can watch the pilot episode early by downloading the ABC Family app.



SATC: The Legacy

“You’re such a Charlotte.”

“This is just like that episode where Carrie has to choose between smoking and Aidan.”

“He’s like my Mr. Big. Not in the sense that he’s my destiny, but in the sense that we’re basically having an affair.”

“Why can’t I get pregnant? I mean, Miranda got pregnant after one night of sympathy sex with one-ball Steve!”


“I’m mostly a Carrie, but with a splash of Samantha.”

“Remember that episode where Carrie freaks out about all the money she’s spent on shoes over the years? That’s how I feel about my finances.”

“I learned what kegels were from Samantha.”

“He broke up with me via email. That’s almost as bad as a post-it.”

post it

“Ever since the Charlotte/Trey proposal episode, I can’t stop using the word ‘alrighty’.”

“I’m a new woman. I feel like Miranda after Samantha gives her her hair appointment.”

“I don’t want to find my Mr. Big, I want to find my Harry.”

“It’s like, Season Two when her only income is writing her column for the New York Star, and she has the same Dior saddle bag in three different prints – do you know how much those bags cost?? Well trust me, she can’t afford them.”

“Can I pull off a tulle skirt?”


“Socks… men as socks… this article socks.”

^^ That’s what S wrote to me last night, when discussing ideas for a new Beauty Coup post. For those of you who don’t know, there is a nine-year age difference between S and myself. She is the Charlotte to my Samantha, in more ways than one. And while there are occasional differences in our pop culture experiences of the world (we definitely didn’t watch the same children’s shows), there’s one tenet that holds strong in its sway over both of our lives: Sex and the City.

We’ve both seen every episode, and so have you. We can quote many episodes, and so can you. We not infrequently relate the stories of those four women to our own lives, and so do you. All of this is true because SATC was unlike any show that came before it, and nothing has quite filled the space it left behind.


It’s been ten years since the last season of SATC aired. In those ten years, the sanitized SATC movie and the atrocious sequel-that-shall-not-be-named have somewhat overshadowed the series, devaluing the cultural contributions of what was truly a groundbreaking show.

You’ve heard it all before – how SATC depicted women talking about sex, openly and sometimes crassly; how the focus of the show was on the female friendships, and how the men in their lives often took a backseat to a friend in need; how each of the four women had their own distinct goals and ambitions, further separating them from the once presumed Female Be All End All of love and marriage.

What you might not know is that even though the show’s creator, Darren Star, is a man, there were a lot of women at the helm of SATC, directing quite a few episodes in the first three seasons (prior to Star’s departure from the show), and featuring prominently in the writer’s room throughout the series. In the late 90s / early aughts, this was a significant shift in an industry that remains highly male-dominated. Let’s also remember that SATC only exists because of the source material from author Candace Bushnell, paving the way for a world where more and more women are the show runners for their own series.

four gals

Of course the show had its flaws. There was a lot of privilege on SATC, of both the racial and financial variety. All the same, SATC arguably blazed the trails that led us to Broad City, The Mindy Project, and Orange is the New Black – female-centric TV shows that are far more colorful in both representations of ethnicity and economic realities.

At the close of the Sex and the City series, the show cements its feminist underpinnings with a nod of the hat to being a phenomenal woman and having a room of one’s own. In the final episode, after all the ups and downs of friendship, the many and varied romances, the families formed and the choosing of choices, Carrie left us with these simple, powerful words:

“The most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.”