"A lady never tells."
Maybe this vintage saying seems irrelevant in the age of online over-sharing, but the directive still influences how women communicate — about age, weight, fertility, and sex, to name a few — and colors how we see women who do start conversations about these "private lady things." Brooklyn-based comedian/author Sara Benincasa, for one, is tired of the message that women should stay silent about their bodies and how they feel about them, and so she's creating a film to fight that message. "The Focus Group" will follow Benincasa's character, a 5'3", 175-pound 34-year-old — yes, those are the comedian's stats as well, and she's not afraid to say so — as the character offers up every detail of her appearance to a group of men for critique, a construct that extrapolates the judgment women already receive to its logical and ridiculous extreme. "I had the idea several months ago that it would be so wild if a woman who didn't feel good about her body actually hired a focus group to tell her what was wrong with it and what exactly she should fix to be the perfect woman and embody the ideal that felt so far away from her right now," Benincasa tells us. "It sounds like everybody's nightmare! The best comedy for me follows the fear — goes after what scares me — and so I thought this would be a great project." Benincasa, for her part, is "tired of seeing size-six women portrayed as hideous large beast women when most American women are a lot bigger than a size six — and yes, STILL BEAUTIFUL!" Spoiler alert: Her character will progress not toward embodying the Ideal Woman, but toward loving herself exactly where she is. "This film isn't about someone who doesn't want to change ever," Benincasa explains. "It's about someone who learns to love herself exactly where she is, even as she makes plans for some positive changes...I want people to carry away the message that even if they want to change their body or change their lifestyle, it's important to love yourself where you are right now." You can support the project on Kickstarter until April 16 (donation perks include a life-coaching Skype session with Benincasa and "a 5-minute Skype session with me where we talk about EITHER your favorite foods or OR the Denzel Washington film "The Equalizer," Benincasa writes). Look out for a censored version of the film on YouTube and an uncensored version on Vimeo come August. Whether by Skype or film, we look forward to seeing more of Benincasa's irreverent brand of beauty-standard-defying humor.