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.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 11.34.48 AM

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:

Keep fighting the good fight.



Why the New Name? or How Real Living Beauty became Beauty Coup:

The Internet is a strange place.

When I was 15, that series of crazy dial-up noises would connect me to a chat room – before the phrase had nefarious connotations – where I could talk to people from around the globe. My “handle” was DelphiniumTwinkleQ. The Q was silent, because I was 15.


This chatting with people who lived All Over the Planet felt like magic. When I was in China two years later, my mom and I could send a piece of “e-mail” to my dad, and we would get his reply the very next day. It was a crazy, topsy-turvy, whole new world.

a whole new world

Almost 20 years later, we are immersed in that new world, our lives all but run by the technological advances we’ve made. Through social media we reconnect with old friends and cultivate professional relationships. We develop creative projects with people who live on different continents. We write blogs and meet strangers and those strangers become friends (hi, Jennie!). Some of our closest friendships evolve primarily through texts, emails, and instant messaging chats. We share our opinions and are cheered on, challenged, shamed, scolded, bolstered and championed by the voices of people we will never meet. We rally behind causes with countless like-minded unknown individuals, and we change the world.

This is what I see happening right now with how women are perceived and valued. We are rising up as a collective voice to challenge absurd standards of beauty, to recognize our inherent diversity, and to be valued for all that we are.

we can  do it

Thanks, in part, to the Internet, companies are dropping sexist practices, a teenager in Pakistan stood up to the Taliban and started an international movement, there are more shows to watch (good shows!) featuring a variety of complex female characters, women are shattering glass ceilings left and right, a toy company aimed at training girls to be engineers aired their best ad yet during the Advertising Mecca, and like our efforts here at Beauty Coup (BC Represent!), numerous self-confidence movements, features, and projects (fun projects! clever projects!) emerged, showing us what women really look like (even celebrity women), spreading joy, and bolstering a sense of self-worth in women and girls.

Real Living Beauty served us well. It helped me and S (and sometimes Lou) introduce ourselves to all of you. It allowed us to share our many (many, many) opinions. It provided a forum for us to discover and share a wealth of wonderful people, projects, shows, books, programs, and so on and so forth, and to call out the jerkwads who really get it wrong. And we’ll continue to do all of that.

However. It’s time to call this Internet phenomenon what it really is: A Revolution.

Many women have argued that to convince all women that they are beautiful is counter-productive, because it’s still a focus on Beauty. I disagree. I believe these are the seeds of the Revolution. As long as women are caught up in insecurities about their physical appearance – consumed by “Am I too _______?” or “Am I _______ enough?” – they cannot focus on the things that truly matter. When women feel beautiful, when they Believe They Are Beautiful, they are able to set aside cosmetic concerns and put their energy into so much more.

Revolutions can start anywhere – lunch counters, basements, buses, campuses, meeting halls – this Revolution started on the Internet. This Revolution starts with Beauty. If we do not feel Less Than due to the supposed confines or mythical shortcomings of our physical appearance, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.


Some of you will say that feeling beautiful isn’t important. That women can accomplish anything even if they don’t feel beautiful. I don’t entirely disagree. What I will say is that the efforts to make women feel less than beautiful, to sidetrack us with the idea that we must be vigilant about improving our appearance in accordance with the standards of men, these are tools of oppression. If we already feel beautiful, we become impervious to those methods of control. We become greater than our oppressors. We stand up, and we demand our due.


And because I couldn’t pick just one:

rock this b


high five

Welcome to Beauty Coup.

Beauty Coup

Ride the Wave

The New York Times recently ran an article about actresses and their move to “step off the scale,” along with a slide show titled Plump and Proud. 

This was inspired by the likes of Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Rebel Wilson, etc., along with other, less famous women who are speaking out publicly about their bodies, themselves. One of the most recent examples is Jennifer Livingston, the news anchor who aired a smackdown on the guy who sent her an email criticizing her physique.

Some recent News with a capital N in the celeb world is that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes in 2013, a turn of events that is probably a bigger deal than it should be in this century, but women are not usually hired to host major award shows. When they are, they invariably have a male sidekick, even when he’s far less competent *coughfranco*

There are also countless endeavors out there that align with the mission of RLB – blogs, public actionstumblrsprojects, videos, memes, organizations, etc. – to improve body confidence among girls and women, and to promote representations of girls and women in the media that reflect authenticity and diversity.

This is all very exciting. This is some serious momentum for ownership of our own beauty, health, and tenacity. Our work is far from done, but… It’s All Happening.

So how do we ride this wave? How do we, you and me and all of the non-famous, out of the public sphere gals, take up this rabble rousing for ourselves? What can we do to embrace and promote this culture of confidence and positivity?

In answer to these questions, RLB has decided to launch a new site called Kick Up Your Heels. KUYH (aka Karate Chop Noise!) will be a place for inspiration, motivation, and positive action. Think of it as real-world application in your own life, as an extension of all the lady celebrating we do here on RLB. We want You to be your Best Self, and we want to help you in ways big and small.

These simple steps will help you either begin or continue living with confidence and positivity. Find your Moxie! Grab your Gumption! Kick Up Your Heels!

Until next time on RLB… here it is, your moment of yin: