Why You Are A Feminist

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup ruffians!

For starters, I want to acknowledge some late submissions to our Beauty Coup 100 – Celebrating You! post. If y’all keep sending us these great selfies and reasons why you’re awesome, we will keep posting them. It’s always a good time to revel in your fabulousness, you beautiful starfishes.

“I am beautiful because… I live life with only positive intentions and because I love.” – Angela M.

“I am beautiful because there is light. Light is love, light is trust, light is beautiful.” – Lauren M.

***There’s a late submission that I’m saving for our next FFF post, because Liz D. had a lot to say, and I want to address some of her thoughts more fully.

Now on to our FFF topic!

How many of you have ever heard these words uttered (from your own mouth or someone else’s): “I’m not a feminist, but…” ?? Chances are most of us know someone who uses this phrase or its equivalent. For today’s edition of FFF, we’re going to talk about why it’s a bunch of hogwash.

It’s quite simple, really, because the words that often come after the disclaimer are almost always one hundred percent in line with feminist ideology. In nearly every instance where someone proclaims “I’m not a feminist, but…”, what he/she might as well be saying is “I’m a feminist because…”

Let’s look at some prime examples:

“I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the power of women.” – Katy Perry

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“I’m not a feminist or anything but I definitely think that it is unfair to allow a woman’s sexual history to be used against her in a trial.” – random student quoted on the interwebs

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“I don’t consider myself a feminist, but I’m down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, ‘What do you want to say?’ it would be, ‘Love yourself more.” – Meghan Trainor

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Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

A: “No because I love men, and… I’m very in touch with my masculine side… I’m 50 percent feminine and 50 percent masculine, same as I think a lot of us are… We have to have a fine balance.” – Shailene Woodley

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Q: Are you a feminist?

“Absolutely not… I’m a 24-year-old woman that lives in the United States and feels like I should be treated the same as anyone else.” – Katherine Fenton

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“…women are just as capable… I believe in equal rights…” – Marissa Mayer (‘not’ a feminist)

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As a brief reminder, here is the actual definition of feminism, courtesy of Merriam-Webster:


noun \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

PLEASE NOTE: Nowhere in this definition does it say that feminists believe that women are superior to men. Women who believe that they (we) are superior to men are not feminists, they’re sexists. (Are we fighting now? I’d love to hear from those who disagree; tell me why I’m wrong!)

So really, what all of these women are expressing are Feminist Values. What they’re also saying is that while they believe in such values, they’re also afraid of/don’t like/have stigmatized ideas about the word Feminist. It’s the very root of our patriarchal society that presents Feminist as a dirty, extremist, man-hating, pinko commie, witchy, lesbionic word. Which, as we’ve just covered, it isn’t.

***To be clear, a feminist can Also be dirty, extreme, a communist, a witch, and/or a lesbian. But a feminist cannot hate men based on their gender alone, because that is the definition of sexism. (Seriously, we can totally fight about this. I’d love to hear your arguments.)

If you’re still confused, or know someone who is, here’s a handy chart that should clear things up once and for all:


Anyone feeling uppity about “And you probably suck as a person”? If so, riddle me this: If a person doesn’t believe in equal rights and opportunities for men and women, then that person believes in the inherent superiority of one gender over another, right? (i.e., that person is sexist) …Is that someone you want to hang out with, or do they probably suck?

So, once more, with gifs!

Believing in the inherent superiority of one gender over another:

Believing in the inherent equality of all people, regardless of their gender:



Women of a Certain Influence

For not the first, nor I suspect the last, time in my life, I have been pegged as a Bad Influence. The only detail I want to highlight here is a single common thread: each time I’ve been slapped with that label, it’s because the woman who I’m purportedly influencing has started to show signs of confidence, tenacity, and self-worth.

As much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for these evolutions. None of us is powerful enough to fundamentally change another human being. Any moxie and/or gumption rearing its wild-eyed head can only be attributed to each of these women finding and deciding to make use of her long-stifled voice. If I played any part in helping her get there, then all I can say is: hoo-ah, hells yes, bully for me!

This also got me thinking about all the names and phrases thrown at me over the years, dripping with judgement, disdain, and acrimony. So I made a word cloud! It’s just a fun little sampling of the labels and monikers I’ve been branded with. You’ll notice that my cloud includes both prude and slut and a few words in between, because if there’s one thing people love to do for women, it’s define our sexual behaviors for us. #patriarchy

Some of these words were hurtful at the time, others have always proved a consistent source of amusement, and many I wear with pride. Every one of them has undoubtedly molded me into the woman I am today.

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Know what else I am?

not sorry


So here we are, on this afternoon of ye old Friday Feminist Funtimes, faced with the delightful prospect of celebrating women of a certain influence. As a good little feminist, you’ve almost certainly heard the quote “Well behaved women seldom make history”, which is frequently misattributed to Eleanor Roosevelt or Marilyn Monroe. It was in fact a statement made by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, who coined the phrase in an academic paper in 1976, and later went on to write a book of the same name.

In honor of all lady misfits, hotheads, and rabble rousers, I dedicate this post to some of my favorite women – both historic and contemporary – who have, without a doubt, been a very, very bad influence on me.

Jenji Kohan
Even if you already know and love her, and especially if you don’t, read this.

Zoe Saldana
For tellin’ it like it IS.

Bella Abzug
Many, many great things resulted from my 1995 trip to China for the UN’s 4th World Conference on Women, but meeting Bella Abzug was by far one of the greatest.

This woman.

S will be happy to see me acknowledge Lena Dunham here, because I’ve just got to give it to her. Girl is ruffling a lot of feathers.

Grace O’Malley aka Gráinne Mhaol – Pirate Queen
Almost all of my ancestors are from Ireland. I like to believe that she’s one of them.

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup rebels! Who are some of your favorite badly behaved women? Tell us in the comments or shoot us an email: reallivingbeauty@gmail.com

Keep fighting the good fight.


In the News Part One

After Jezebel posted a response to SkinnyGossip blogger’s ridicule of Kate Upton, my sister-blogger and I found inspiration to do the same.  

Without further ado, here is the chat that Lou (author of Cheap Wine and Panty Lines), and I (yours truly, RLB), had about the insanity that is calling Kate Upton fat….

CWPL: Ok – so first off – Are You F*cking Kidding Me? – is the perfect sentiment, no?

RLB: Absolutely! I realize this is one blogger spouting one inane opinion, but it’s this type of mindset that makes beautiful, healthy young women feel like s*** about themselves.

CWPL:  I can’t help but wonder, this is clearly the site of some sick people. Actually really sick, if you ask me. And it can’t possibly be the only viewpoint of its kind out on the Interweb; why do you think this particular instance is garnering so much attention?

RLB:  In terms of the Kate Upton post, it’s such a vile personal attack. While there are a lot of sites that blatantly promote unhealthy notions of thinness, this post goes the extra mile in writing really horrid, insulting things about a perfectly stunning young woman. It’s interesting to me that the author equates her shapeliness with pornography. As if an extremely thin woman in tiny clothes is somehow less evocative. Clearly this writer has issues with women’s sexuality in addition to weight issues.

CWPL:  Clearly.

RLB: Let’s talk more about your sentiment that the author or authors of this blog are actually sick, as in mentally ill. Others have expressed the same sentiment, and the blog’s author claims to have gotten some pretty nasty backlash (violent threats). Doesn’t that kind of negativity just perpetuate the cycle? (of judging women as objects)

CWPL:  I would say yes. I would say a lot of what that woman is saying on her blog is a result of media portrayal of women. That she’s clearly a victim of her own beliefs. It’s sad and I hope two things – that she uses this as a way to reevaluate, seek help, whatever (being that it’s so public now though, I fear the opposite effect) and that our attention to what is going on contributes to a change in the portrayal of women in our society.

RLB:  While I don’t want to give her blog too many hits, I was curious about her “views on self-harm,” and she says the site is “intentionally outrageous and intended to provoke controversy,” which is fair to an extent. She’s revamping or eliminating her Starving Tip of the Day (seriously, Starving tip of the day??), and closes out by saying the following: “…there’s nothing wrong with saying skinny is beautiful, just like there’s nothing wrong with saying curvy is beautiful, or red hair is beautiful, or anything else someone happens to find appealing. It’s an opinion, and we’re all entitled to them.” This closing statement seems somewhat contradictory, as her site essentially invalidates any opinion outside of Super Skinny is Best. As for the Kate Upton post, I think it strikes a chord because this person’s “opinions” are so vicious and degrading.

CWPL:  Right. And she is attacking something that many people struggle with every day. It’s a hot button issue – battling with body image is a lot more serious than having red hair. We all know I judge people everyday on my blog, but it’s an aesthetic. Something they choose. There just seems to be such a stark difference between someone not liking your clothing choices, or hair color choice, and someone not liking your body … ya know? I know what you mean when you say it’s fair to an extent, it is I guess, but it’s also just a crock of shit. Ahem. What that lady was saying on there was crazy unhealthy.

RLB:  It is fair to claim that the purpose of your blog is to indulge in snarkiness (Hi there, CWPL!) but I agree that vilifying someone for their physique is far more harmful than critiquing fashion choices. As Amelia once pointed out, we all deserve to have ownership of our own person. Tearing someone apart  because of how their body looks diminishes their ability to say “this is me and I am happy with who I am,” because on the other end you have someone calling you a fat cow because you were once photographed eating a cheeseburger.

CWPL:  I wonder if the woman in question had actually been much, much curvier, if the outrage would have been the same. From the outside.

RLB:  As in someone like Christina Hendricks?

CWPL: Sure, or even some less well-known model.
(RLB note: for example, any of these women)

RLB:  I suspect she wouldn’t have had the nerve with someone curvier. It would be more insulting that way, and infuriate more people.

CWPL:  I don’t know. There is just something interesting to me about the fact that it’s Kate Upton, freaking Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Extraordinaire. It is our standard after all, as the Jezebel article points out, so would we be so quick to defend someone curvier? I dunno. I also think the pornography comment has a lot to do with the fact that we’re dealing with a real sex symbol here.

RLB:  If you consider what a major issue body image is these days, along with the issue of how women are portrayed in the media, I think there will always be a ton of people ready to defend attacks against curvy women (or not super-skinny women). The biggest issue here is that this “critique” is so… personal. I’m starting to repeat myself, so allow me to be specific: She repeatedly refers to Kate Upton not only as pornographic, but also as a “little piggy” and ….a cannibal, presumably because she’s a “cow” eating a burger. To imply that a woman who looks a certain way is a disgusting slut (simply because of the Way She Looks), is reductionist at best and presumptuous shaming at its worst.

CWPL:  I just hope Kate Upton doesn’t suddenly lose 15 pounds.

RLB:  Or become a vegan.

CWPL:  Or a prude. Hah. Celebrity is a dangerous game, more than ever now with the Internet.

RLB:  It’s a crazy game.

CWPL:  Facebook can be damaging enough – Tumblr too – for regular young women. I can’t fathom what young women in Hollywood/fashion/etc. must endure. And I know you can speak to that very well. And still, just imagine if people had actually been talking about your weight while you were living in LA. Strangers! Gah, it seriously spooks me. I even think how awful it would be to end up on the losing side of “Who Wore it Better” in my gossip rags.

RLB:  Strangers did talk about my weight! Agents would tell me to my face that I’d fare better if I lost 5-10 pounds. And I was already about 15 pounds thinner than I am today. It was insane, and a huge part of why I left. It sucks because fashion and celebrity gossip can be so fun, but when you think about how image obsessed it makes us as a culture, it becomes a serious problem, rather than a frivolous diversion.

CWPL: It will be interesting to see how this continues to play out, if it does. Newsworthiness is fleeting, but we can certainly add this to the Discussion and if there is anything positive to be said for it, it’s that this blogger’s vitriol is bringing attention to a subject in dire need of attention: how women are portrayed in our society.

Also in the news, this, which I think is something you’ve been really interested in lately. What say you of this Gawker writer’s approach to the story? It’s quite interesting and yay for those young girls, right? Methinks the message is spreading …

And that concludes our first In The News segment. Stay tuned for thoughts on the teen girl uprising against fashion mags!

Dieting Schmieting Grumble Grumble Ugh

First things first: I am a relatively fit, slender woman who has never really been concerned with Weight Loss. At least not for the majority of my adult life. Then I entered my thirties. For the last few years I’ve been steadily putting on pounds here and there that refuse to be sloughed off. My doctor tells me this is normal for women in their thirties. She also tells me what I’ve heard time and time again from a variety of sources: exercise is no longer enough. If I want to shed the flab, I have to Change My Diet.

Diet. Shudder. Never was there a more vile four letter word. Count my calories? Who has the time? Deny myself the pleasures of my nightly glass of wine (or two) and my experiments in culinary delights? What is the point?? Life is short! I’m healthy, active, and usually quite content with my gentle curves and bits of extra padding. Usually.

Why has monitoring my food intake always been so impossible for me? After some consideration, here is my most logical set of answers:

1. I’ve always been really good at the exercise part. I do yoga, I walk a lot, I jump rope (for real! it’s super fun), I ride my bike, I go on hikes in the mountains… You get it; my life is active and I like it that way. This makes me feel like I’m justified in eating what I want. Which brings me to number

2. I eat really, really well. Loads of people have labeled me a Food Snob because I do my best to not ingest crap. No fast food, ever.* If I enjoy a rare soda it’s an all natural ginger brew (mmmmmmm… ginger). I try to eat local and organic foods that are processed minimally, if at all. I prepare my food at home as much as I can. I do this because I believe it matters what I put in my body and I like to feel healthy. Glamour magazine recently published an article about this very practice and titled it, aptly, The Snob Diet. This is how I eat. Not to stay thin, but because I love really, really good food. Which is a nice segue to number

3. For those of you who read my confessional, you know I worked long and hard at developing a positive, healthy relationship with food. It makes me nervous to think about compromising that relationship. I’ve come so far and am so happy living a life where food and I are really, really good friends. Still. Some things have changed.

It isn’t just the “in my thirties” jiggling that has been weighing on my mind (oh yeah, pun intended). The truth is that if all goes according to plan, my ever so handsome husband and I would like to have a baby in the next year or so. I know my body, and I know that baby weight will be a sonofabitch to deal with. I want to be in my best possible shape before scaling that mountain. So. This morning I rather spontaneously decided to try my first ever, real live, honest to goodness Diet. My friend Kamarie had posted on good ol’ FB about her own goals and her resulting grumpiness, and it sparked an interesting thread of thoughts from myself and several other ladies. Many of them talked about this website called myfitnesspal.com, which is one of those handy online food/calorie/exercise tracking thingys. With my doctor’s advice and baby-making on the brain, I signed up.

Let me tell you, this was a rude awakening. My little experiment suddenly became Frightful as I looked at the results of my weight x height x weight and fitness goals… If I want to drop a measly ten pounds, I’m supposed to live on 1230 calories a day?? Uh, that’s all? I became instantly hungry just thinking about it. The website recommends aiming to lose one pound a week, so… ten weeks. May 3rd. I can do this until May 3rd, right? …Right?

Well, you, lucky readers, shall find out with me. Needless to say I know going into this that I generally suck at even Thinking about monitoring my food intake, so it obviously isn’t going to be easy. What I’m the most interested in is how this will affect me – my moods, my energy level, my image of myself… Will ten pounds make that much of a difference? Will the magic of calorie counting really drop the pounds like (whole grain, flax-seed) hotcakes? Halfway through my first day I sure hope so. After breakfast, lunch and a snack I only have 370 calories left for my dinner. Au revoir, nightly glass of wine…

Oh and Ps. I’ll probably have to get a scale. For posterity. I hate scales. Number One Scale Goal? Do not let the scale make me crazy. Wish me luck!


*The only fast food exception is a road trip. I have been on maybe three road trips in the last decade, and yes, for lack of alternatives I ate some fast food. I figure three times in ten years is pretty acceptable. It’ll be a beautiful day when they open a Trader Joe’s in every town the size of Fillmore, Utah…