Black is Beautiful

History proves that in every cultural shift, there is a moment when the fabric of our society stretches too thin. Where the people who are suffering reach a breaking point. It isn’t always a clear-cut moment, like Stonewall or Rosa on the bus. Sometimes the moment of breaking is an accumulation of too many other moments of agony.

That is the moment we are all living in, right now.

I’ve seen some calls to action for the next couple of weeks. September 25th has been deemed a Black Self Care Day, and Isaiah Washington is calling for African Americans to stay home on September 26th. There is a powerful political bent to this latter action, but it was the phrase “Our goal is to maintain the safety of our people…” that broke my heart.

What is this world we live in, where 15% of the U.S. population is not guaranteed safety in public spaces, for no reason beyond the color of their skin*? This is not 1916, it is 2016. This is the 21st century, and we as a people are better than this. We can do so much better.

These actions are geared towards the black community, and understandably so. If you, like me, are a white person who wants to be a proactive ally in this fight, here are several things you can do to help.

Per Luvvie’s rally cry, I intend to be a white co-conspirator. Starting with this post, every day for the rest of September (at least), I will Do Something to help. It may not always be a blog post. It may be something as simple as retweeting a powerful message from a beautiful black voice. Whatever it is, it will be something. I will use Luvvie’s list as my guide, and I will conspire with the black community to create change for people of color in this country, because this madness needs to stop.

To all the people of color I know and love, and to those I don’t know who are scared and angry and suffocated by these atrocities…

I see you. I see your humanity. You are not alone, we are in this together. This fight belongs to all of us. I stand with you. Together we will celebrate your lives and work tirelessly to ensure your freedom, the true freedom that belongs to every citizen of our colorful, multifarious, democratic nation. You are beautiful. You matter. Your life matters.

And because this blog is devoted to portrayals of women in entertainment and the media, I’d like to highlight some of the best, baddest, brightest black ladies in the game. Thank you for all that you are and all that you do.

Lupita Nyong’o / Tracee Ellis Ross
Taraji P. Henson / Leslie Jones / Kerry WashingtonJanelle Monáe


*if you are reading this and you truly believe that the epidemic of people of color dying at the hands of police officers in the U.S. is not race-related, I urge you to examine your conscience; if that isn’t enough, examine the Facts, and then examine your conscience again. 


Consent is Sexy, and So is Your Mom

There are a lot of pervasive myths in our society about women and sexuality. If you were to take the bulk of film, TV, and advertising at face value, you would likely assume the following:

  1. Men are more interested in sex than women
  2. Women over the age of… let’s say 35… are not sexy
  3. Women who are mothers are not sexy (and should not be sexual)
  4. Women are either deviant sexpots or chaste asexual beings
    • Yes, the Madonna and the Whore dichotomy is alive and well
  5. When women are sexual it’s solely in the interest of pleasing men
  6. Female sexuality is only acceptable when presented by and for men

Unsurprisingly, I’m here to tell you that this is all a load of bullsh*t. Here’s the truth as I see it, based on my lifelong experience as a woman (who is also intimately close to a substantial number of other women).

1 – Oh My God do we love sex. Not all of us, of course, but an awful lot of us really really really love sex.* And – brace yourself – not every man does.

2 – Most women…

Can we sidebar with the disclaimer that yes, I am making generalizations and there are exceptions to every rule and so on and so forth? Agreed? Good. Back to it.

2 – Most women are at their sexiest once they reach their 30s and 40s, for no other reason than we are at our most confident. We are more comfortable in our skin than ever before, having shed the angst and neediness of our twenties. We also know what we want, what we like, and (hopefully) how to express those desires. (Seriously, I think we can all agree that right now, JLo is the sexiest she has ever been.) Speaking of sexy mamas…

3 – I know, I know… you don’t want to think of your mother as a person who has ever been sexual. But guess what? You exist, so. Your mother has had sex.** This inability to separate a woman’s individuality from her identity as A Mother is dangerous for many reasons, but right now we’re focusing on her sexual agency. To wit:

I am a mother. I can see 40 in my not-too-distant future. I am also sensual and alluring, and I love sex.

Not only do I love sex, but I am and always have been a fiercely sexual being. When I consider creating art / working on projects / writing posts like this that embrace and celebrate women’s sexuality, there is a part of me that questions that choice, because I am a mother and according to society… 

4 – I am not allowed to be Charlotte and Samantha at the same time. I am supposed to be one or the other. But the truth is, I am both of those women. I love being a mother and I love sex. And when I consider what I want my daughter to see and experience and know in her core to be true, it is this:

Sexual Expression vs. Objectification – There is An Enormous Difference

– Rape, harassment, sexism, etc… these are not byproducts of women expressing their sexuality. It’s when women are Sexually Objectified that things fall apart. Sexual Objectification diminishes women’s agency over our own bodies and our worth as human beings.

But guess what?

If I want to start an Instagram account celebrating my sexy ass body and my love of lingerie (which is real and profound), it is not an invitation to violate me.

This is what we need to teach our children. That women are allowed to be sexual creatures, and to express our sexuality however we choose, and in a better world we would be able to do so without fear of scorn or (at times horrifying) retribution. Which leads me to my final point:

– Yes, when I express myself in a sexual way, I enjoy and appreciate a positive response. (I’m a Leo, so. Duh.) However, my sexuality is mine and mine alone. If I want to express it privately or publicly, shyly or brazenly, coyly or salaciously, these are my choices. When it comes to my own personal sexual expression, you don’t get to tell me how to behave.***

The patriarchal approach to women’s sexuality is to appropriate it and manipulate it, because – frankly – a woman solid in her own sexual power is terrifying. Patriarchal society only thrives when women are repressed and oppressed, and if you think that isn’t the case today, that we’ve reached any kind of gender parity where sex is concerned, just ask the victims of the college athletes who’ve been in the news lately for sexually assaulting unconscious women. Ask those women if they feel valued. If they feel justice was served after they were robbed of their sexual agency.

For those of you who prefer visual aids, here are some examples of Sexual Expression vs. Sexual Objectification:

Boobs = burgers = boobs are food = Objectification

Proposal = she’ll let you bone her = Objectification

Everything about this = Objectification 

As for Sexual Expression, let’s include those images right here in the post, yes? Because who doesn’t love a little sassy, saucy, sexual agency?

Dita von Teese = Burlesque = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.00.35 PM

Beyoncé = Boss = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.12.03 PM

Gina Rodriguez = Self-Love, Acceptance, and Celebration = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.28.19 PM

The moral of these musings, my darling rabble rousers, is simple:

Celebrating women’s sexuality and sexual expression = GOOD!
Turning women into sexual objects = BAD

Also, I may just have to start that Instagram account, because there shouldn’t be anything shocking or scandalous about a mother who can see 40 in her not-too-distant future, who is also sensual and alluring, and loves sex.


*We possess the only organ in the human anatomy that exists solely for pleasure, for cryin’ out loud!
**She maybe even enjoyed herself. Deal with it.
***Unless of course we have an explicit agreement to that effect, because consent is sexy.

On Hamilton and Casting

Ever since I saw this floating around the interwebs, I’ve been stewing on what exactly I want to say about it.
I’m a white actress and writer, and I’ve been auditioning for theatre, film, and TV for over 20 years. The majority of the casting calls I see and receive include specifications about race. We’re talking at least 90%, probably more. They also always specify gender, frequently include age ranges, physical descriptors, and often absurd “qualifications” (especially for women). Casting is a world that operates very differently from your typical employer/employee relationship. I’m not here to argue the legality or moral implications of these facts. I’m telling you that when it comes to casting, this is the current reality.
Hamilton is a revelation. It’s a brilliant and captivating piece of theatre like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It’s “not a moment it’s a movement.” Whether you know it or see it or like it, Hamilton reflects the world that we live in. As creator Lin Manuel Miranda said, Hamilton is
If you’re a white actor feeling left out of this opportunity because of your race, well… take a minute to imagine feeling that way every single day, in damn near everything that you do. Then take another minute to acknowledge the privilege of a life where you almost never, ever, ever have to think about that. 


Ever since I’ve known of their existence, I have watched the Oscars every single year, save one. We’re talking decades of Oscar watching. (Why I missed the Oscars that one year is a post in and of itself, but let’s just say there was a pretty girl involved.) I love the Oscars. The era of Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars was a tenet of my childhood. I remember my favorite winners and their speeches and often, yes, what they wore. The Oscars are my Super Bowl. Usually, I throw a fancy little Oscar party, where everyone gets all gussied up, and we drink a lot of champagne and do a lot of celebrating. Sometimes I even roll out a cheap little “red carpet.”

Like everyone else with a sliver of social awareness, I am also very, very tired of the straight white male Hollywood boys club. It’s extremely frustrating every time the nominees are announced, and – once again – people of color and women are not recognized for their cinematic contributions in Hollywood. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy primarily focuses on the acting categories, with some scrutiny of the nominated directors. The sea of white faces (and male, for directors), is tiresome at best, and at worst, it’s a sad reflection of the pervasive racism and sexism that persists in the world’s most dominant creator of cinematic entertainment.

As an actress, I am thrilled whenever I see something different in those categories. “Something different” includes anything other than beautiful, twenty-something white gals. Which isn’t to say that those ladies don’t deserve their spot at the table. It’s to say that the hyper-focus on youth and Hollywood beauty* excludes and invalidates the experiences and stories of older women, women of color, women who aren’t thin or who don’t meet a highly inflated standard of what qualifies as attractive/sexy. Start looking at the women nominated vs. the men. Start paying attention, and you won’t be able to stop.

As a writer, I pay special attention to the Original and Adapted Screenplay nominations, and if a woman or person of color is on either of those lists, it’s like goddamn Christmas. This year, the only women nominated for Original Screenplay are part of writing teams – a phenomenon so common, if you only used the Oscars as a barometer, you’d think women are incapable of writing scripts without the help of a man. In the Adapted category, women fare slightly better, with Phyllis Nagy nominated for Carol, her adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel (The Price of Salt) and Emma Donoghue for her adaptation of her own novel, Room.

This brings us to directors. I’m the most tired of sharing these stats (So. Depressing.) but since it’s important to know, here you go:

  • 88 years of Oscar
  • 4 women nominated for Best Director
  • 1 woman has won (Kathryn Bigelow in 2010 for The Hurt Locker)

If inclusive nominations among the writers is like Christmas, when women** show up among the Best Director nominees, it’s f*cking Christmakwanzakah.

The sexism and racism of Hollywood is not a problem that begins and ends with the Oscars. It is inherent and systemic, and needs to be tackled in many different ways from many different arenas if we are to affect real change.

Since the 2016 Oscar nominations were announced, and declarations of boycotting began to surface, I’ve discussed these issues with many admired and trusted people in my life, both within the industry and without. In the end, I’ve decided to go ahead and watch the Oscars. Because I am a writer and an actor, I believe there is more tangible work I can do from the ground up, to ensure that more and more unique voices and stories are heard and recognized. Through the stories I write, the characters I play, and the films I hope to one day produce, I will help make the seats at those coveted tables more far-reaching, inclusive, and welcoming.

That being said, I’m not having a party this year. I’m watching the awards with two friends and my 15-month-old daughter. We aren’t getting dressed up, and we aren’t drinking champagne. The super fab soirée that is E’s Oscar Party is shut down until further notice. I’m going to watch the Oscars, but I’m not going to celebrate them. I won’t celebrate them again until there is truly something to celebrate.

Oscar Party
On Hold Until Further Notice

*yes, this is different from Real World Beauty

**I looked for stats on PoC nominated for/winners of Best Director. All I could find were stats that either strictly addressed black nominees (there have only been three), or “foreign born” nominees/winners, many of whom are white. If anyone knows where to find stats on PoC nominated/awarded the Best Director Oscar, I’d love to see them.

Amy Schumer Feminist Funtimes

Perhaps it was her “Milk Milk Lemonade” video or some of her stand up, or last Friday’s Feminist Funtimes when we discussed the charming notion of what makes a woman f*ckable… or perhaps you still haven’t paid witness to Amy Schumer. Whatever your first exposure to this crass lady of comedy, odds are good that you had a strong reaction to her and her raunchy brand of humor.

Full disclosure: it’s pretty easy to make me laugh. If you’re at all clever, odds are good that I will laugh at your jokes. That being said, I do tend to roll my eyes when I feel like there’s too much Try. If something that’s meant to be funny is also GROSS or CRASS or SHOCKING, then I feel like you’re Trying Really Hard to make me laugh, and instead all you get is this:


That was more or less how I felt about Amy Schumer, at first. So much Try. Her comedy reminded me of the diarrhea scene in Bridesmaids – it was funny for a minute, but quickly (for me) became overkill.

But as I’ve seen more and more of what Ms. Schumer is bringing to the table, the more I’m into it. Her comedy is still raunchy (and I would never want her to change that; it’s who she is), and as it turns out, she is also smart as hell and using the fame and attention she’s generating to make funny about some really serious sh*t. Cases in point:

As far as I’m concerned, rape has never been this funny.

Everything about this.

And the latest: this week’s episode of Inside Amy Schumer is a 20-minute remake of the 1950s film 12 Angry Men. Except it isn’t jurors in a room debating the fate of an accused murderer. In this version, the 12 angry (and sweaty) men are debating whether or not Amy Schumer is hot enough to have her own TV show. They also briefly mention the movie she has coming out, which b.t.dubs, looks hilarious.

The full episode, 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer (heh) is available on Comedy Central’s website (you have to log in with FB or Twitter), and I highly recommend watching the whole thing. It is absolutely worth 20 minutes of your life. Not only because it’s funny, but because of why it’s funny. (For more on the why of it, read Duana’s post over at Lainey Gossip; she sums it up quite nicely.)

On that note, while we can’t all produce brilliant comedic sketches around them, we should join the Amy crusade and eschew the beauty standard by hashtagging our so-called faults, or something to that effect. Mine would definitely be #clusterteeth and #stonereyes (and since I’ve been breastfeeding for six months, odds are good I can join the #muppettits club).

Thank you, Amy Schumer, for being funny, for being yourself, and for calling attention to all this bullshit that women are inundated with every single day. I am officially a fan. #loveyourcabbagepatchface


image copyright GQ magazine

My Body Post-Baby: Still My (Amazing) Body

Whenever a famous woman has a baby, you can count on at least two things:

1. The name of said baby will be a source of great fascination for far too many people, and
2. When said famous woman rejoins her publicly famous life and starts to be photographed again, all of the headlines will be some version of how she got her “Body Back After Baby”

Though there are countless examples of this, let’s just look at one recent case study for the sake of brevity: Blake Lively. She had a baby about two months ago (a girl named James, if you need the answer to #1 satisfied), and then showed up at New York Fashion Week. When Serena Van der Woodsen steps out on the town, her clothes are always a hot topic. This time of course, it was all about how she filled out her clothes because OH MY GOD SHE HAD A BABY.

Here are some of my favorite headlines, winners of the Utterly Ridiculous Headline Contest that I just held; I was the only judge:

Blake Lively Debuts Amazing Post-Baby Body At New York Fashion Week!

Hahaha… Debuts her body. Um, pretty sure she debuted her body sometime in the 80s and it’s been here ever since.

Blake Lively Makes First Post-Baby Public Appearance, Glows With Happiness at New York Fashion Week

“Glows With Happiness” aka “has a really great makeup artist”

Blake Lively Makes a Triumphant Post-Baby Return to Fashion Week

Triumphant. She is triumphantly dressed and standing in front of photographers. I’m all for congratulating the woman, but let’s not congratulate her for putting on a dress and going to a fashion show. Let’s congratulate her for Having A Baby, because that sh*t is HARD.

Then of course there are the blatant WE’RE ALL LOOKING AT YOUR BODY headlines:

NYFW 2015: Blake Lively Shows Off Flat Tummy

Blake Lively Flaunts Flat Tummy At NYFW 1 Month After Baby’s Birth

Blake Lively somehow looks like this after having a baby

Well, let me tell you how, Toronto Sun… It’s called Spanx. And having a personal trainer. And a nutritionist. And being a 27-year-old whose body was super fit to begin with, before all the baby magic happened.

Then there’s this little gem:

Ryan Reynolds may be the Green Lantern, but Blake Lively might have some super powers of her own.

She does! The super power of being a woman and growing, birthing, and nurturing a brand new human! Oh… you meant her flat stomach. Whomp.

I admit that I’m extra uppity about all of this because coming up on four months ago, I had a baby. I will also confess that throughout pregnancy and since giving birth, I’ve been concerned about things like gaining weight and getting back in shape. I like being fit and active, and in news that will surprise no one, it’s challenging to prioritize those things when you have a beautiful, captivating newborn to snuggle and feed and love and care for.

What I could not have told you with fervor and conviction before this whole experience, is that my body is Amazing. It’s f*cking Amazing. It isn’t amazing because I have a flat stomach. (I do not now, nor have I ever had a flat stomach.) It’s amazing because I grew another person inside of me, and then brought that person into the world with a staggering amount of effort and pain, and throughout all of it, my body was my body. I don’t need to “get my body back”, because it’s still here. It’s always been here. And it is magical.

My body isn’t the same as it was at 23, and it isn’t the same as it was a year ago. My body is capable, and mystifying, and a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. My first and forever hope for my body is that it will continue to serve me well, for as long as I am lucky enough to live in it.

For anyone out there – especially anyone who has given birth – who feels bad about their own body when looking at pictures of Flat Tummy New Mom Blake Lively (or any of her New Mom Celebrity peers), please remember that it’s her Job to look like that. She has Employees who help her do that job, and she has Economic Resources that most of us can barely fathom. She is also, undoubtedly, wearing Spanx.

Your body is amazing. Your body is a seriously impressive piece of bioengineering. Take a moment to thank your body for everything it gives you every day, then stretch or run or jump or dance just because you can. Your body is amazing.

bebe body
before / during / after

Solve the Mystery, Join the Debate: FFF Styles!

Happy Friday Feminist Funtimes, Beauty Coup readers!

Today I’ve got a doozy for you. The following flowchart appeared earlier this week on an extremely popular website, but not at all the sort of website where one would necessarily expect to find this sort of flowchart.

Except that I might argue this is precisely where one would find this flowchart, and the reasons for my argument are bound to be met with some raised pitchforks.

Here’s the blurb above the image:

A young lady walks by, who you find sexually attractive. You’re probably not clever enough to come up with an original thought, so the only remaining option is to yell out at her, like you are not a smart person. Should you do it?

What follows is amusing, insightful, and as I see it, undoubtedly feminist in nature.

feminist funtimes!
copyright website with the original post (see hyperlink below)


First, think about this graphic in the context of only this graphic. Would you say that it speaks to feminist values? If you’re a woman, does it address an issue that you’ve experienced firsthand? Is it amusing and clever? Do you kinda want to make fliers of it and pass it out to men on the street?

Once you’ve answered some of those questions, take a moment to consider what website you think would house this image. I’ve grayed out the website’s identifying logo in the top right corner, to give you some time to guess. If you’re ready to know, here’s the original post.

Now what are your thoughts?