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This week:

India scraps its tax on menstrual hygiene products, “modern slavery” in the United States, and “Dietland” actress Jen Ponton answers our questions.

‘Supergirl’ adds Nicole Maines to cast

Television is getting its first transgender superhero, “Supergirl” producers announced Saturday at Comic-Con in San Diego. Activist and actress Nicole Maines will play Nia Nal — also called Dreamer — in the CW show’s fourth season, which begins airing this fall. Maines’s character is an investigative reporter who joins CatCo, the media conglomerate where Kara Danvers (a.k.a. Supergirl) works.

“It seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to,” Maines said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little.”

‘Blood tax’ eliminated in India

India is doing away with its 12 percent tax on sanitary pads, the BBC reports. The goods and services tax (GST) was implemented more than a year ago after menstrual hygiene products were deemed “luxury” items. It ignited a movement that protested the extra cost for women and girls in a country where many cannot afford to buy sanitary products. The campaign used the hashtag #LahuKaLagaan, which translates to “blood tax” in Hindi.

New bill aims to empower victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault

In an effort to curb the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims of sexual harassment or sexual assaults, a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers introduced the Empower Act on Wednesday. The bill would also require companies to disclose the number of harassment claims it settles, Vox reports. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) introduced a Senate version of the bill last month.

Julia Child Award goes to entrepreneurial duo

(Courtesy of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger)
(Courtesy of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger)

On Tuesday, the Julia Child Foundation announced that chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger will receive the Julia Child Award at the National Museum of American History on Nov. 1. The award is given to individuals who have have had “a profound and significant difference in the way America cooks, eats and drinks.” The pair will be the first partners and first women to receive the award.

Milliken and Feniger have been business partners for 40 years, and many industry veterans credit them with transforming the Los Angeles restaurant scene. Like Child, both women have published an assortment of cookbooks and were TV stars with “Too Hot Tamales,” an early show on Food Network.

Ireland defeats U.S. in first Hockey Women’s World Cup match in 16 years

The 2018 Hockey Women’s World Cup, which runs until Aug. 5, began on Saturday in London as Ireland beat the United States, 3-1. Ireland is ranked 16th in the world, and the country hasn’t participated in a World Cup match in 16 years. The U.S. women’s national team still has a chance to compete: The team will face England on Wednesday. Ireland will play India the following day.

In old audio, Rep. Jason Lewis complains about the downfall of the word ‘slut’

(AP/Lily illustration)
(AP/Lily illustration)

On Wednesday, CNN published audio of Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) making bigoted remarks about women on a syndicated radio program he hosted from 2009 until 2014 before becoming a congressman. The news outlet reviewed 15 months of audio from the “Jason Lewis Show,” and he can be heard asking why no one can call a woman a “slut” anymore and how women who vote based on birth control coverage are “without a brain.” Women who supported Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney, Lewis said, are “guided by more emotion than reason.”

Lewis is up for reelection this November in a competitive congressional district. In a statement, his campaign spokesperson Becky Alery said, “This has all been ligated before.” She noted that, as Lewis had said, it was “his job to be provocative while on the radio.”

Teenage Indonesian girl jailed for abortion

A 15-year-old girl in Indonesia was sentenced to six months in prison for having an abortion, the Agence France-Presse reported Saturday. She was raped by her older brother eight times, and he will spend two years in jail for sexually assaulting a minor. Abortion is illegal in Indonesia unless a woman’s life is at risk. If a woman is allowed an abortion, it must occur by the time she is six weeks pregnant. The teenage girl was six months pregnant at the time of the procedure.

While in the U.S., Russian woman accused of being a covert agent

(Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/EPA/EFE)
(Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation/EPA/EFE)

Last week, a U.S. federal court charged Russian Maria Butina, 29, with acting as an unregistered agent of her government as she built ties with conservative political organizations in the United States. Butina is accused of trying to infiltrate U.S. political groups on behalf of the Russian Federation.

While in the United States, Butina met with National Rifle Association officials, crossed paths with Donald Trump Jr., attended last year’s annual National Prayer Breakfast and earned a master’s degree in political science from American University in Washington, D.C. According to a report from The Washington Post, Butina received financial support from Konstantin Nikolaev, a Russian billionaire with investments in U.S. energy and technology companies.

Butina, who has pled not guilty, will remain in jail until her trial, a judge ruled. The Russian Foreign Ministry encouraged supporters to participate in an online campaign using #FreeMariaButina.

According to the Global Slavery Index, an estimated 40.3 million people were victims of “modern slavery” in 2016, and 71 percent of those affected were women. Modern slavery includes practices such as forced labor, forced marriage and human trafficking — all things that still happen in the United States.

The index, which was conducted by the Walk Free Foundation and released Thursday, examines 167 countries. Although the United States is ranked 158th, an estimated 403,000 people still live in conditions that are considered modern enslavement.

Jen Ponton as Rubi on “Dietland.” (Patrick Harbron/AMC)
Jen Ponton as Rubi on “Dietland.” (Patrick Harbron/AMC)

On AMC’s “Dietland," actress, writer and producer Jen Ponton plays Rubi, a disciple of the radical feminist collective, Calliope House. The show, which debuted in June, is a TV adaptation of Sarai Walker’s novel of the same name, and it challenges a society that values thin bodies and perpetuates rape culture. Although Ponton would like to see actresses of size playing roles that don’t use their weight as part of the storyline, she says “Dietland” is an important show because it acknowledges the struggle many women have with their bodies before they’re able to reach personal acceptance. “There’s so much shame inherent in having a fat body,” Ponton says. “There are so many people who can be positively affected and feel seen and heard by stories that sort of start in a dark place.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

“Dietland” touches on what the word “healthy” actually means. What should we be thinking when we say that word?

The primary objective is: Health is your business and your business alone. We really have to step the hell off of health-policing people in any way. Leave people alone, let them do what they’re going to do. It’s part of their bodily autonomy. It’s not affecting you.

Secondarily, I think when people are thinking about how they want to relate to themselves in a healthy way, there are a couple of great markers: The first and probably most important one is, how do you feel mentally and emotionally? That’s going to guide everything. Mental health is the last thing on the minds of people who are shaming people of size for being in larger bodies, and it’s the thing that honestly suffers the most. It’s not your heart. It’s not your lungs. It’s not your pancreas. It’s your brain.

Then it’s, how do you feel physically? Do you feel tired? Do you feel fatigued? One of the biggest tenets of coming to fat acceptance is the concept of health at every size. It is a practice and study that says, of course you can be a healthy and vital person at any size as long as you feel good, eat food that your body is craving — that’s a practice called intuitive eating— and know how your body wants to move. Do you enjoy doing Pilates, going for a walk, boot camps or just blasting Spotify and dancing it out in your living room? A lot of that is so personal and it’s about checking in with who you are and where you’re at.

You’ve worked with a lot of really amazing people, like Tina Fey on “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” Marti Noxon on “Dietland” and Jenji Kohan on “Orange is the New Black.” What’s something you’ve learned from them?

The zeitgeist I feel, particularly with these women, is, “You can lead.” It’s so possible for you to be a leader and be dynamic and tell these really entertaining, moving, powerful or funny stories. I’m also a writer, so there are aims of mine that are closer to Tina Fey in scope. When I think, “Can I really write this thing, executive produce it and be on it and show run at the same time?,” I look to someone like her.

Also, seeing how [these women] conduct themselves as leaders and seeing that they don’t have to lean into all of that bulls--t that we’re fed, [like], “If you want to run with the boys, you’ve got to put on your power suit and be a mega b---h.” These women are doing such amazing jobs … by uniting people, building them up and creating a safe and warm and collaborative atmosphere. All of that is really reassuring and fortifying.

I noticed you’ve been posting photos of yourself next to superhero Faith Herbert and tagging the studio behind a possible adaptation of the comic, Sony Pictures. Give our readers your pitch. Why should you play Faith?

Faith is known for being this nerdy, quirky, sweet, adorable ray of sunlight. That’s not something that’s prized in a lot of superhero lure. Everybody is broody with a really dark and traumatic past. Faith has a bit of a traumatic past — she lost her parents a really young age — but she’s a ray of light. The things that are said about her and the way that she is written is so in line with who I’ve been my entire life. I think if they’re really looking to bring that positive ray of sunshine, I would be an incredible choice. Also, I’d be able to fly, which would be pretty awesome.

(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)
(Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)

At the ESPY Awards on Wednesday, former gymnast Sarah Klein took the stage alongside 140 of her “sister survivors” to accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage. Klein, who identified herself as the first gymnast to be sexually assaulted by disgraced doctor Larry Nassar, said continually speaking out about abuse is “grueling and painful, but it is time.”

Klein stood next to former Michigan State University softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. They held hands before delivering their remarks. “You cannot silence the strong forever,” Lopez said. Raisman, who has been a critic of the way U.S.A. Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee and Michigan State ignored complaints of Nassar’s abuse over the years, spoke directly to survivors: “Don’t let anyone rewrite your story,” she said. “Your truth does matter, you matter, and you are not alone.”

‘Pose’ and the power of representation

Left to right: Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson (Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)
Left to right: Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson (Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

Set in the late 1980s, FX’s groundbreaking series “Pose” explores underground ball culture in New York and features TV’s largest-ever LGBTQ cast and crew. The season finale aired Sunday night, but the dance musical has already been renewed for a second season.

Since its premiere in June, “Pose” has garnered praise for presenting an authentic portrayal of the experiences of transgender women. During a recent interview published in Out magazine, activist and author Janet Mock, who has served as a writer, producer and director for “Pose,” spoke with three of the show’s stars: Dominique Jackson, Mj Rodriguez and Indya Moore.

When Mock asked the actresses about what impact they hope their work on the show will have on audiences, Jackson, who plays Elektra, had this to say: “I hope that every person [who] sees this understands and learns that we are human beings. First and foremost, before everything else, we are human beings. I’m not some fantasy or fairy tale.”

Moore, who plays Angel on the show, added: “I hope these stories redefine trans bodies in a really important way. People have never really known what to expect from us and the things that we go through in our lives, so I want people to see that the pit of our struggles [is] centered in the very things that no one else would wanna go through or experience themselves.”

Macy Freeman, Washington Post producer

Tarte cosmetics

I don’t know much about makeup. For most of my life, I’ve been a lotion and mascara kind of person (except for those liquid-blue-eyeliner-in-a-straight-line years in middle school). Then I started getting annoyed with redness on my face and tried to find some makeup to help. I came across Tarte cosmetics and have been happy with everything I’ve tried. Plus, they have great visual branding — something we obviously appreciate at The Lily. Here’s what I like: drink of H2O hydrating boost moisturizer, shape tape contour concealer, Amazonian clay airbrush foundation, and, my favorite, the refreshing Rainforest of the Sea 4-in-1 setting mist.

–Amy King, Lily creative director and editor in chief

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