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

Guest Post by the beautiful and ferocious Cara Greene Epstein
www.thedragonflymovie.com

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.

And…

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.

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

http://www.dita.net/femme-fatale/gallery

Beyoncé = Boss = Sexual Expression

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.12.03 PM

http://www.beyonce.com/vault/?type=editorial

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

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.28.19 PM

https://www.instagram.com/hereisgina/

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.

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

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.

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

Lauren
“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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.29.53 AM

“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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

“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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.34.32 AM

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.47.10 AM

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.55.28 AM

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.59.09 AM

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

fem·i·nism

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:

feminist-diagram

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:
sexism

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

rulesoffeminism

xoxo,
E

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.

 

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

– Catharine P.

 

Maggie

“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.

 

Izzy

“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. 

Shan

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

 

Kira

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

 

HB!

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

 

Gwen

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

 

Marel

“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.
Megan
“I am beautiful because finding the beauty in others takes no effort, and my baby blues.”
– Megan A.
EDS
“I am beautiful because my body is capable of magic.”
– E
Gigi
“I am beautiful because you are.”
– Georgina H. E.
AA
“I am beautiful because i am a badass lady who gets shit done.” 🙂
– Amelia A.
Katie
“I’m beautiful because I’m living the life of my dreams. And wearing makeup when I feel like it.” 🙂
– Katie B.C.
Paloma
“I am beautiful because my daughters look up to me.”
– Paloma P.
Alisia
“I am beautiful because of The Light in my life.”
– Alisia D. 
Jennie 2
“I am beautiful because I am loved.”
– Jennie S.
Lynzie
“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.
VandMe
 “I am beautiful because I am. I am beautiful because I make my friends laugh.”
– Vanessa A. R.
Chendi
“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.
Lou
“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.
Tiffany
“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

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?

 

 

JGL FTW!

Just when I thought this Friday Feminist Funtimes was a wash… JGL to the rescue!

JGL, for the uninitiated, is the one and only Joseph Gordon Levitt. I watched Don Jon recently, and my only critique is that I wish he’d spent a bit more time developing the relationship with Julianne Moore’s character. Felt a bit cheated out of that one.

Having always been a JGL fan, he’s only endeared himself to me more with his very astute observations on feminism. Sourced from an interview with The Daily Beast (how annoying is that headline?), here’s what our Friday Feminist Funtimes hero had to say:

“What that means to me is that you don’t let your gender define who you are–you can be who you want to be, whether you’re a man, a woman, a boy, a girl, whatever. However you want to define yourself, you can do that and should be able to do that, and no category ever really describes a person because every person is unique. That, to me, is what ‘feminism’ means. So yes, I’d absolutely call myself a feminist. And if you look at history, women are an oppressed category of people. There’s a long, long history of women suffering abuse, injustice, and not having the same opportunities as men, and I think that’s been very detrimental to the human race as a whole. I’m a believer that if everyone has a fair chance to be what they want to be and do what they want to do, it’s better for everyone. It benefits society as a whole.”

And of course there’s always this:

 

Cheers to you, sir.

500-days-solo-o