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: reallivingbeauty@gmail.com

Keep fighting the good fight.


“Girls” Talk

Hey hey RLBers! I was recently invited on the Practically Ideal podcast to discuss some of the prevailing opinions about HBO’s Girls. We landed in some familiar territory for RLB, and if you haven’t read Elizabeth’s recent post Greater Than the Sum of Our Lady Parts, wherein E addresses the internet’s collective outcry over a woman who weighs over 100 lbs banging Patrick Wilson on a ping pong table (slash marble counter top slash bed), you should definitely do so as soon as is physically/humanly/emotionally possible for you.

Thanks to Logan & Bob for having me on the podcast! As a side note, in said podcast you will hear me affirm that Lena Dunham is a beautiful person who can bang whoever she wants. I recently learned that she is choosing to bang someone from that band Fun. whose song We Are Young is definitely NOT PLAYED ENOUGH in fact I wish I could listen to it right now oh wait it’s burned into my brain forever. Thanks, Guy Lena Dunham is Banging.

Lena Dunham and the guy she's banging, maybe on a ping pong table, AS IS HER RIGHT
photo via usmagazine.com

Hope you enjoy this conversation and you are all beautiful.

Practically Ideal Podcast Episode 6: HBO’s Girls

Greater Than the Sum of Our Ladyparts

Well, it took some doing, but the Internet finally filled me with enough umbrage to get me blogging again.

After reading Jezebel’s summation of several critical responses to the latest episode of Girls, here I am, torch in hand, ready to throw down some Realness.

First: I haven’t seen this episode yet. I do watch Girls, and I do enjoy it. However, I am not fangirling Lena Dunham with voracious abandon like so many of my peers. I’m of the opinion that her talent is sometimes a little overrated. Yes, her work is on occasion revolutionary, but at other times the praise she inspires is so… amplified. And I’ll take whatever flak you have to throw at me for saying so.

Still, this post is inspired by the good stuff. Perhaps the best stuff. There are several things that I admire about Ms. Dunham, but so far sparking this conversation is number one on the list. If for some reason you don’t want to read the Jezebel article (though it’s worth a read), here’s the Cliff Notes for what’s happening:

In the latest episode of Girls, the character played by Lena Dunham has a brief, whirlwind love affair with a character played by Patrick Wilson. The critical response has largely been that a girl who looks like Lena Dunham could never – in “real life” – inspire that kind of passion in a man who looks like Patrick Wilson.

Allow me to sum up my feelings about this with my favorite Tavi bitchface.

TG Bface

It has also been argued (by both men and women) that it makes sense because she’s twenty years younger than him, and what guy wouldn’t go for that?

To sum up, the internets are all in a tizzy because ostensibly this could Never Ever Happen in Real Life:

girls-lena-600x-1360597324It is simply too shocking to be believed. Maybe it was a dream sequence??

Since RLB is a blog focused on Positivity, if you need more outrage then I suggest a google search on Girls Season 2 Episode 5 for a healthy dose of righteous indignation. There’s plenty of it out there, and justifiably so. While it’s Sorely Tempting, I also will not rattle on about the double standard that exists in our entertainment culture (LD ≠ PW, but SR = KH?) because again, there are many elaborate and eloquent arguments on that subject that are a mere search engine away.

Instead my plan is to reinforce that Women Are More Than Their Looks, and to do so by countering the disbelief now permeating the Girls Recap Blogosphere with some Truth. In this instance, Truth is known as Pictures of Men Considered to Be Gorgeous With Their “Average” Looking* Partners. Alternate title, Men Who Don’t Need to Date Supermodels to Feel Validated. OR, my new favorite:
Women Are Beautiful In Many Ways For Lots Of Reasons.

*For the purposes of this Truth, “average-looking” will include any woman who falls outside current prevailing stereotypes of what defines female beauty. Women who, like you and me, would never walk a runway or appear in Vogue. For the record, I think every single woman pictured here is Absolutely Beautiful. 

More to the point, thanks to the nature of celebrity, it’s not even up for debate that any one of these men, at any given moment, could up and leave their wife or girlfriend in favor of a smokin’ hot, social-climbing lingerie model or CW TV star. But here they are, loving the women they are with because they are beautiful, and clever, and intelligent, and hilarious, and tenacious, and charming, and dazzling, and loving, and and and and and…






I might get some backlash for including this last one, but here’s some truth from me. In my opinion, Paul Newman is basically the most handsome man who ever lived. He’s at least in the Top Five of All Time. His wife, Joanne Woodward, was a lovely woman. She was also by no means an Elizabeth or Marilyn or Sophia (thought by many to be the most beautiful women of all time). But look at these pictures.

Joanne Woodward, Paul Newman PNandJW2 PNandJW

Look at how much he Loved Her. How much they loved each other. Clearly this love goes beyond the physical, and that’s the kind of love we all want.

Attraction starts with SMELL, people. It’s fucking science. It doesn’t matter where you each fall on some mythical, invented scale of gorgeousness. What matters is how you feel about each other, how you champion one another, and how you LOVE.

End of debate. Drop mic. Lemon out.