5 FREE THE WRITER takeaways from Karen Karbo's In Praise of Difficult Women
As we pursue a career in writing, many of us face doubt. We feel afraid that our stories don’t matter, we’ll fail, or we’ll succeed and lose what we care about. It can be difficult to identify and trust in our voice. Heck, it can be difficult to trust in ourselves.
Karen Karbo’s In Praise of Difficult Women explores the lives of imperfect women who trusted in and fought for their voice.
Although many of them are not writers (some are), these women’s stories can inspire you to forge your own path. And isn’t that what writing is all about?
I’ll admit that I felt conflicted as I read this book. While I felt inspired by the boldness and perseverance of these women, some of them made decisions that hurt their partners, families, and themselves. I found myself wondering...could these women have achieved what they achieved without destroying others (and themselves) along the way? Their explosive passion got them places, but at what cost? This is what I loved about this book: it made me think about society’s expectations, what I want, and what “difficult” means for me. None of these women are the same combination of difficult. We get to choose who we want to be and go for it with our own kind of boldness.
Let these women’s stories inspire you to be the writer and person you want to be.
NOTE: This book is summarized in a Q&A format; all answers are directly from Karen Karbo (not lil’ ol’ me).
What inspired you to write In Praise of Difficult Women?
My mother died when I was 17, my father quickly remarried, and I was more or less on my own. Throughout college, I ministered to my loneliness with biographies of great women. As I read and wrote, I was a little delirious to discover the many ways in which women can be difficult. All of them have embraced their messy, interesting lives. All serve as an inspiration for more accommodating women, who like me long to be braver, bolder, more courageous, more outspoken, more willing to upset the status quo.
How do you define a “difficult” woman?
A difficult woman, as I define her, is a person who believes her needs, passions, and goals are at least as important as those of everyone around her. In many cases, she doesn’t even believe they’re more important—many women in this book were devoted, loving wives and mothers—but simply as important. A difficult woman is also a woman who doesn’t believe the expectations of the culture in which she lives are more important than what she knows to be true about herself. She is a woman who accepts that sometimes the cost of being fully human is upsetting people. A difficult woman isn’t a bitch, although on occasion she might be. She isn’t cruel or selfish or mean—although, again, on occasion she might be. Just like anyone, she has bad days, she makes mistakes, she loses her temper. A difficult woman is a woman who insists on inhabiting the full range of her humanity.
Difficult women tend not to be ladies-in-waiting. Waiting for love, waiting for someone to notice their excellent job performance, waiting for the kids to go to bed, or off to school, waiting until they lose weight and fit into their skinny jeans. Instead, they are driven by their internal engines. They make other people wait. It’s immaterial whether these others worry about her, grow impatient with her, find her frustrating, or call her names. Difficult women may not enjoy causing a stir (though most seem to), and sometimes their feelings get hurt, but the bumps along the way fail to deter them from their mission. Difficult women share many commonalities. But the one trait they all possess is complete indifference to what people think.
Why do you think learning about difficult women is so important?
These difficult women give us permission to occupy space in our worlds, to say what we think, and to stand our ground. They give us permission to be ambitious, passionate, curmudgeonly, outspoken, persistent, sassy, and angry. They tell us, by their words and deeds, that it’s all right to occupy our humanity.
I love these women because they encourage me to own my true nature. They teach me that it’s perfectly okay not to go along to get along. They show by example that we shouldn’t shy away from stating our opinions. Their lives were and are imperfect. They suffered. They made mistakes. But they rarely betrayed their essential natures to keep the peace.
Could you share an overview of what you learned about each of these women?
J.K. Rowling: Feisty
Rowling finished the final Potter installment in 2007—and now that she’s off the leash, she’s known for being “thin-skinned.” To be female and be thin-skinned means you react, sometimes strongly to things you don’t like, choosing to voice your opinions instead of swallowing them because they may cause problems. Rather than tolerating people, you speak up. The downside of her visibility and influence is that she’s routinely held to task for refusing to behave like a proper children’s book author. The message is unmistakable. Stay in your lane, Jo. Don’t ruin our image of you as the sweet, slightly eccentric author of the best books of our youth by being an adult woman with thoughts and feelings of her own. Luckily for Jo, she doesn’t mind being called thin-skinned. She owns it. Be inspired by Jo Rowling, and embrace your complexities. Your public, like hers, will simply have to deal with them.
Elizabeth Taylor: Notorious
There was never any doubt that Hollywood’s first modern movie star was doing exactly what she wanted to do, regardless of what people said about her. She rarely explained herself or interpreted her behavior to put other people at ease. She was both wondrous and terrifying: a hyperfeminine and hypersexual woman who couldn’t be contained or controlled by public opinion. She lived her very public life with gusto and a complete lack of remorse during the buttoned-up 1950s. Elizabeth was a hyper-girly goddess before whom men lines up for the chance to buy Oreo-size diamonds. What Elizabeth Taylor never said in her longish life is, “Oh, you shouldn’t have.” And neither should we. She was complicated, selfish, demanding, passionate—and unafraid to speak up and wield her power. We tend to write off Elizabeth Taylor’s charisma as a simple function of her beauty, but the secret to her timeless allure was her complicated, difficult nature.
Gloria Steinem: Activist
Sometimes you’re a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t sort of difficult woman. If you insist on planting your flag in the sand for your politics or other beliefs—even if it’s just a belief in yourself—be prepared to be called out the moment you evolve, rethink something, change your mind, contradict yourself, or just behave in an inexplicably human way. It’s as if by flouting expectations, we’ve also unwittingly agreed to be held to impossible standards. For half our divided nation, Gloria is a beloved icon. For the other half, her politics are problematic. Known informally as the World’s Most Famous Feminist, Gloria has been pushing the women’s lib rock uphill for 55 years. She shows no signs of putting her feet up. If Gloria has taught us anything, it’s that we can stand our ground, speak our truth, and fight the good fight—all without sacrificing our wit or cool hair.
Amy Poehler: Subversive
Amy is one of those difficult women who fly under cover of adorable amiability, but when pressed, can throw some world-class shade. Her [online community] tagline is: Change the World by Being Yourself. Pretty much the difficult women credo. When a reporter asked whether she ever dreamed she would one day be there, she gave him a look and said, “Sure I did.” It doesn’t get any more difficult than that.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Indefatigable
Eighty-five-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not do girl push-ups. During her twice-a-week workouts, she busts out two sets of 10 standard push-ups without stopping for a break. Ruth is difficult because she refused to be discouraged. She really persisted, one tiny foot in front of the other. The kind of blatant, dispiriting discrimination Ruth experienced as she advanced in her career wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. But whereas many women were thwarted, Ruth persevered. Misogyny was simply one more hill to climb. “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best to tune it out,” she observed. “Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
Josephine Baker: Gutsy
Often when I think of a difficult woman, I envision someone articulate, outspoken, and (that loaded word) “bossy.” Josephine was none of those things. She was outwardly sweet, outwardly kind. But in always following her heart, she wound up behaving in ways that were both aggravating and breathtakingly courageous. What her heart commanded never gave her pause. She plunged ahead, even at personal risk to herself (like joining the French Resistance). Josephine’s great strength was her ability to optimize the one thing she knew she was good at: dancing without inhibitions and making people laugh. It’s instructive, I think, to imagine what our lives might be like if we were to invest 100 percent in even on thing at which we know we excel. By the mid-1930s Josephine Baker was the most successful black woman in Europe. She wanted to be taken seriously—not as a black performer but as a performer.
Rachel Maddow: Brainy
Rachel Maddow doesn’t report the news. Instead, she explains it, drawing connections that are often buried. Her show is the cable embodiment of reading an article to the end, which no one seems to do anymore. She’s expected to give up her individuality and get with the program, to get straight to the point when, for Rachel, it’s the journey to the point that intrigues her, the way her own mind works. She is the exact opposite of the woman who has been told not to be “a know-it-all.” For girls and women who are made to feel apologetic for being too brainy and too analytical, we have Rachel: difficult comfortable in her know-it-all skin.
Coco Chanel: Imperious
Coco Chanel is the only fashion designer to appear on Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century. It’s not a stretch to say that almost every modern style can be traced in some way to her. The foundation of Coco’s radical genius was that clothes should make a woman feel beautiful—and if she felt beautiful, she was beautiful. This seemingly simple philosophy dared to disrupt the primacy of the male gaze. Coco embodied what would later become her philosophy: “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something, but to be someone.” A female who is someone in her own right is a woman who has resisted being defined in relationship to others. Imagine, for a moment, what it would be like to hold that view, to be a woman free of the shackles of judgment and expectation of others. Chanel was a complicated, stubborn, ambitious, visionary who transformed the way we dress, view ourselves in clothes, and walk through the world.
Martha Gellhorn: Brave
The most difficult women are the angry ones. The ones who refuse to “let it go,” think happy thoughts, or eat their feelings. Martha spent most of her professional life infuriated about the stupendous injustices of the world, but she channeled that rage into her writing. The brilliant war correspondent insisted on being the protagonist of her own story, responsible for her own accomplishments, disasters, and triumphs. The simple fact is that Martha was free: tormented by her obsessions, but not weighted down by the soul-sucking monotony generally thought to be the province of women. She would rather be afraid than bored. Which did not make her a happy housewife and homemaker. Or a good one, either. “If you have no part of the world, no matter how diseased the world is, you are dead,” she once wrote in her diary. Don’t waste time trying to change your anger into something that makes you likable; you will only wind up disliking yourself. Write your rage, paint it, film it, dance it, lyricize it, poeticize it. You don’t have to be good, just honest.
Shonda Rhimes: Unstoppable
Shonda Rhimes is a cheerful, self-professed workaholic and type-A perfectionist who’s happy in the overworking zone. Her ambition is a perpetual-motion machine. The woman is unstoppable, and an unstoppable woman—especially one who already owns an entire night of network TV—is a difficult one. Her genius further rests in making us prefer difficult women over their easier, more accommodating counterparts. Shonda was hailed as a visionary when she cast African Americans, Asians, and Latinas as fully dimensional, brilliant doctors in Grey’s Anatomy. Network TV became more genuinely diverse. Shonda is difficult because she’s all about owning her tremendous competence and badassery. Her achievements are huge, and there’s no reason on Earth she should pretend otherwise. Let’s take a page from her book, instead of falling over ourselves to write off our great job, our promotion, our special award as good luck or the universe smiling down on us or anything else other than our own intelligence, dedication, discipline, and talent. Let’s be like Shonda and strut a little.
Eva Perón: Fanatical
Between 1946 and her death in 1952, Evita was the most powerful woman in the Americas. Fanatically devoted to her husband, President Juan Perón, Evita was instrumental in gaining the vote for women and creating an astonishing network of modern social services, while also sanctioning extortion, bribery, and corruption. My personal theory about the rise of the cult of Evita is that macho Argentina was simply starved for the feminine. Evita brought glamour, generosity, beauty, and a spirit to public life. By proclaiming her devotion to her husband, she could get away with saying and doing pretty much anything she wanted. And in a country where women were viewed as chattel, her mere insistence on being seen, heard, and respected made her extraordinarily difficult.
Helen Gurley Brown: Relentless
Helen Gurley Brown, life-long advocate for single girls, became the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan at age 42. Under Helen’s editorship, Cosmopolitan became the most successful newsstand magazine in the nation. Her message that women could (and should!) enjoy the same things in life as men—sexual freedom, love, and money—was revolutionary. Helen’s practical nature, rooted in her ability to both recognize a good opportunity and trust her gut, allowed her to see the potential in situations others might have remained blind to, and act on them. To whatever degree she felt truly terrified or insecure, Helen never abandoned the central organizing principles of her life: to trust her gut and work harder than everyone else.
Edie Sedgwick: Decadent
I have always felt conflicted about adoring Edie. She was a fragile girl, wounded bird division. The kind of girl men rush in to protect, to rescue, to make excuses for, to celebrate. The exact kind of woman I normally struggle to wrap my feminist arms around. And still, her March 1966 spread in Vogue is captivating. Just try to take your eyes off her. Edie lives on in our imaginations because she made a life out of doing nothing but being Edie. Listen, ladies, we all do too much. We are exhausted—or at least I am—by the demands of American womanhood. Edie’s life, on the other hand, was unscheduled, wasteful, unfocused. Can’t we all be a little more like this? We might be viewed as being a little decadent, a little difficult. But let’s agree not to care, shall we?
Angela Merkel: Inscrutable
A year after the Berlin Wall fell, Angela Merkel had completely discarded her science career for one in politics, having become a minister in the new government of a united Germany. Angela Merkel is a methodical leader; as she likes to say, “you can’t solve tasks with charisma.” (Most Germans prefer this.) Brilliant, introspective, and inscrutable, Angela Merkel enjoys a global reputation as an enigma--in part, because her personality belies the female stereotype. Of the many weapons Angela Merkel possesses—her formidable intellect, her chess master’s ability to see all the plays on the board, her patience—the greatest is her complete lack of vanity. Being perceived as chopped liver is one of Angela’s main plays. While no one is paying much attention to her, she quickly figures out her opponent’s weakness, then waits until he makes a mistake. She was and is oh so difficult, but people are lulled into thinking otherwise because she keeps her own counsel. In her quiet, self-contained, confident way she keeps on keeping on without fanfare.
Billie Jean King: Competitive
Since fifth grade, her desire for the world has been kitchen-sampler simple: equal opportunity for everyone. The moment she played her first game of tennis in 1953, at a country club where the family of her grade school chum were members, she thought: I’m crazy about tennis, but where is everyone else? Battling to become number one and fighting for fairness became the twin goals of her young life. As Billie Jean blossomed, so did the women’s movement. The fact that Billie Jean took her game seriously and was there to win made her, in the minds of sports commentators of the time, extremely difficult. Together with eight other female players, Billie Jean quit the USLTA in protest of unfair awarding of prize money. Sometimes, you have to walk away and risk everything. It’s easier to be difficult when you know in your heart that you’re right. Billie Jean was and is, and so she continues to fight.
Jane Goodall: Determined
She was 26 years old when she made several groundbreaking discoveries that secured her position as one of the greatest field scientists of the 20th century. Jane’s credentials were: I love animals. She didn’t care. She was focused on her improbable life goal, and presumed herself to be qualified and capable of doing things that the world insisted she had no business doing. She gave herself over to learning what needed to be done. She didn’t question her competence just because her mission sometimes seemed bloody impossible. It’s breathtaking the way Jane stood her ground and wouldn’t let her superiors talk her out of her own experience and what she knew to be true. Jane was polite and utterly unmovable. Difficult women aren’t all swashbuckling extroverts who shoot off their mouths and shout down their adversaries. Sometimes they just sit quietly and refuse to pretend to be agreeable. Jane, with her calm, steady ways, sat in that jungle—frustrated at first, but moving forward, trusting that she’s made the right choice. She always seemed to trust herself, which made her a difficult woman.
Vita Sackville-West: Self-Assured
Popular novelist, poet, gardener, and wife of writer Sir Harold Nicolson, Vita was self-assured. Vita was magnetic. Vita was gender fluid, as we call it in our time, known for stirring up passions people didn’t know they possessed. This was a radical act for a female born in the Victorian era. Being a person who loved someone of their own gender wasn’t merely a scandal in England, it was all illegal. She refused to be trapped by the mores of the day, which made her difficult. How much better our intimate relationships would be if we fashioned them to suit ourselves, and not the expectations of our times? It shouldn’t be an amazing act of courage for a woman to strive to be fully herself—and yet time and time again, we see that it is. Really, we shouldn’t be so timid. Look at Vita. Like us, she was a victim of the times in which she lived. But that didn’t stop her from trying again and again to understand and express her needs and desires.
Elizabeth Warren: Persistent
Elizabeth Warren had never planned on becoming a political, but here she is, kicking ass and taking names. Mother of two, grandmother of three, former Harvard law professor, she is the author of 11 books. She’s also one of those intensely charismatic public speakers who makes you want to go out and join up. She loved her baby but was also a smart, ambitious young woman who longed to make her mark. Difficult woman-style, she accepted her feelings of guilt and marched on anyway. Without knowing it, Elizabeth was a Having It All trailblazer. Of course, Elizabeth Warren has been called too angry—but my bet is that she doesn’t much care. She not only refuses to change her behavior when she is called a name—but she keeps right on doing it, with verve and conviction.
Margaret Cho: Unrestrained
Margaret Cho is one in a long line of boundary-busting female comedians who has figured out how to be her own woman, involving herself in pretty much everything that catches her creative eye. Her interests are far-ranging, and she explores them all. Everything about Margaret Cho’s persona is difficult. Difficult women who have this much access to their rage tent to put people off. The world doesn’t seem to know what to do with women who insist not only on talking about their sexual abuse and anger but then converting it into comedy. It’s instructional that when Margaret was trying to control herself into Hollywood’s vision of herself, people turned away. Now she’s freely mouthy, angry, and unrestrained. And as a difficult woman extraordinaire, she’s earned our respect.
Amelia Earhart: Adventurous
For those of us who wish to be difficult but are introverted and see no reason we shouldn’t keep our opinions to ourselves, Amelia Earhart is our girl. Gracious and somewhat shy on the outside, she was willful and independent on the inside: polite, yet freewheeling, a person who answered to no one. “Adventure is worthwhile in itself,” she said. Most women are wary of indulging their difficult side. We’ve been bred to worry that only a woman who’s prepared to wind up alone insists on the primacy of her own needs. We’re afraid that if we honor and express our true selves, and if that true self is not as self-sacrificing as society demands of women, we will chase everyone we love away. But Amelia was true to herself, and George did no run away. She followed her heart--not his heart—and he only loved her more. He loved her enough to help her prepare for her greatest flight, the one that would take her from him. Men have always done things because it gave them pleasure and a sense of achievement. So why shouldn’t women be granted the same privilege? How lucky it was for her to find an avocation that didn’t force her to tamp down who she knew herself to be.
Frida Kahlo: Fervid
Frida Kahlo always enjoyed the spectacle of herself. She was a playful exhibitionist, a fervid and erotic provocateur dispatching updates from the land of female suffering. She forced people to look at her, to share her feelings, when they would prefer to look away. She would one day become Mexico’s most celebrated painter, a sexy international art megastar and pop icon who would produce unnerving masterpieces that would hang in the world’s major museums. “I never thought of painting until 1926, when I was in bed on account of an automobile accident,” she wrote. Frida obeyed her own heaving feelings, always, and could only paint what they dictated. If people were alarmed, so much the better. Frida was a woman comfortable among the chaos of her feelings. She never denied them, never dialed them down. It made her strong. Or, in the view of some—difficult.
Nora Ephron: Exacting
Nora Ephron was that rarest of difficult women: the lovable bitch. She was exacting and perfectionistic--and because even though she was a woman who revelled in her femininity, she refused to be mawkish or sentimental. She called it as she saw it, and her prose was so sharp you could cut yourself. She was all about women power, but wasn’t above poking fun at the parts of the women’s movement she found to be ridiculous. That impulse to point out the ludicrous aspect of things she generally approved of was part of her exacting nature. She wasn’t one to let anyone get away with anything if she could help it. She could be both ally and merciless critic. She enjoyed directing because she was exacting. Nora introduced me to the concept that a woman could be opinionated, witty, exacting, and still beloved.
Diana Vreeland: Outlandish
Diana was the most inspired, outlandish fashion editor of the 20th century. “You don’t have to be born beautiful to be wildly attractive!” she would say one day. She was drawn to people she felt were interesting, rather than conventionally attractive. Her models weren’t the usual pretty faces. What have we learned from Diana Vreeland? That being outlandish—her particular form of difficult—is a strong, smart way to navigate life. According to her, to be chic is to be interesting and original—and these qualities, truth be told, are far more compelling than being beautiful. Beauty, after all, is an accident of birth, rather than an act of imagination and creativity. “There’s only one very good life,” Diana wrote. “And that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.”
Kay Thompson: Incorrigible
Brazen, cheeky, and flamboyant, Kay is arguably the most gifted song-and-dance woman of the 20th century. Genius lyricist, gifted choreographer, agile pianist, superb voice coach, sparkling actress and comedienne, Kay was the mad scientist responsible for the DNA of the classic Hollywood musical. The musical titans of the time worshipped at the altar of her crazy innovation. She would always say no when her gut told her something as beneath her (and so should we). She was never afraid to overestimate her worth—something for which you’ve got to admire her. Kay was a kook—she always behaved like a diva, like a woman who was entitled to more. In the end, her ego got in the way of everything. If she couldn’t be completely in control, she didn’t want any part of it. Arrogance isn’t usually something people accept in women, unless they are extraordinarily beautiful. Kay was merely extraordinarily gifted—and believed that alone earned her the right to be herself.
Laverne Cox: Undaunted
Laverne was saved by her strong desire to be an artist and to make a living as a performer. She’s committed to the simple human cause of showing the world that trans people are also human, and has no intention of keeping quiet or going away. Now that she is in the public eye, visibility and education have become part of her job; she is using her celebrity to bring awareness to what she calls “the lived life” of a trans person, day by day. That Laverne chooses to put herself out there, challenging assumptions and making people think, takes a lot of guts. It makes her a brave woman, which in my book makes here difficult: bold, unafraid to kick ass, and unwilling to minimize herself—an action women have often taken to avoid conflict and unpleasantness. With grace and dignity Laverne welcomes her detractors. It’s a lesson we could all stand to learn.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Ambitious
She was difficult straight out of the gate—by which I mean she was a brilliant overachiever. In 1964, her senior year, she ran for president—and in a bit of foreshadowing that would never be permitted in a cheesy novel, lost to a boy who allegedly told her she was stupid if she thought a girl could ever be elected. What people came to despise so thoroughly about Hillary Clinton is that she simply would not quit. Her ambition couldn’t be knocked out of her by Bill’s affairs. She wanted the most powerful job in the world, which stirred up something terrifying in the lizard brains of a large part of the population. She didn’t win, but showed all of us that difficulty is a power that doesn’t desert us when we suffer—even the defeat of a lifetime. Which inspires millions of the rest of us to step up.
Janis Joplin: Defiant
Janis Joplin was the first certified female rock star. She was a pioneer of difficult womanhood for a generation who’d been taught that above all a woman must be nice, polite, and well behaved. She put the music world on notice that a female singer didn’t have to be angelic but could be nasty, powerful, and ballsy. Her life was not easy, and she was often her own worst enemy. But she demonstrated that women don’t need to constantly be policing their feelings, that being alive means being on speaking terms with every dark corner of our hearts. That we should not be afraid to let it all out.
Lena Dunham: Imperfect
Her determined outspokenness has made Lena one of those woman about whom people say “Why won’t she just go away?” And it’s to her credit hat she has no intention of shutting up in order to make people like her. In Girls, she dared to be, week after week, season after season, a young woman okay in her-less-than-perfect body. She claimed her power in her actions, not in the perceptions of others. Full disclosure: I also find her annoying at times. She’s a difficult woman, and sometimes difficult women grate on our last nerve. But here’s a radical notion: That’s okay.
Carrie Fisher: Droll
Carrie was never easy, never well behaved, never silent about her demons. I didn’t think Carrie Fisher was a great actress, but I smelled a whiff of smirk in her line readings. For Lucas’s part, he cast her because even at 18 she was formidable but also warm and shrewd, as a warrior princess would be. At the age of 28, after a drug overdose and a stretch in rehab, Carrie was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Rather than try to play off her erratic behavior as a mere addiction—always a more glam option than straight-up mental illness--she came out as bipolar, advocated for it, and wore her disease with grace and her trademark searing humor. Not everyone celebrated Carries openness. Some people found her confessions to be just too much. “I am mentally ill. I can say that, “ she’d been known to say. “I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.” She had a full, messy, imperfect life. I hope she realized before she left us that it was her huge heart, her humor and her complex personality that made Princess Leia difficult, and thus immortal.
My 5 FREE THE WRITER takeaways are:
To be a writer, you need to believe that your needs, passions, and goals are as important as those around you.
Don’t let cultural expectations become more important than what you know to be true about yourself.
Give yourself permission to occupy space in the writing world, to say what you think, to stand your ground, and to fully occupy your humanity.
If you own your true nature, you’ll find your true voice.
You can’t please everyone. Let yourself make mistakes and tell the stories you want to tell.
How do these women inspire you as a writer?
To free the writer today, I invite you to give yourself the space to write guilt free. Give yourself permission to write what you want to write, not what you think other people want you to write. Feel free to share where it takes you.