We love superhero movies, but how can we be superheroes in our own spheres of influence?

Hosted By: Liz BeShears

[1:30] Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Series

[1:35] Iron Man

[1:40] Avengers End Game

[6:30] NYT article “Why Are We Obsessed With Superhero Movies?

[10:15] Video of Sir Nicholas Winton being honored by the hundreds of people he saved as children.

[12:15] Suffragette statue in Knoxville’s Market Square

[12:45] The siege of Yorktown

[15:10] Christopher Hitchens, Mother Teresa skeptic’s book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and in Practice.

[26:35] How to gracefully accept a compliment

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Liz: Thank you for joining us on bell curve today. I’m Liz BeShears and I’m joined by my co-hosts Rachel Blackmon Bryars and Mary Scott Hunter. We’re talking today about one of my favorite genres of movies superheroes [00:00:47] and discussing what makes someone heroic and are who our own personal Heroes are, heroines, and Role Models, but first, I want to go ahead and put in a plug that if you don’t already follow us on the socials, you can find us @BelleCurvePod on Instagram Twitter [00:01:02] and Facebook and over on the website at bellecurvepodcast.com. You can read our show notes see a little bit more about our lovely hostesses and we hope that you will check that out subscribe, rate us on [00:01:17] iTunes Spotify Stitch or wherever you get your fine podcast material and let us know what you think about our conversations here! 

The last several years we’ve had this amazing streak of superhero movies. It really got started [00:01:32] in 2005 with Batman Begins and Christopher Nolan’s incredible Dark Knight series, then of course since Iron Man in 2008, we’ve had the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Infinity Saga which just culminated with End Game and April and I’ll go ahead and [00:01:47] say that we aren’t going to go into anything really spoilery of any of these movies, so don’t worry about that, but we will be briefly discussing individual characters. So first I want to ask you who is your favorite fictional superhero or [00:02:02] superheroine. 

Mary Scott: I love the flawed ones. I like the for the Marvel side of things I like Iron Man and and black widow and I love fat Thor. Oh my gosh. I think I just gave it away. That was a good way, wasn’t it? [00:02:18] And we just said we wouldn’t do any spoilers, but I’m sorry for y’all that haven’t seen Avengers in game yet for Thor gets fat and it’s great. So I like the I do like the flawed ones. I like Black [00:02:33] Canary and Catwoman and you know all the all the ones that have a backstory I of course, I love Superman and Supergirl and but they’re so good. There’s nothing not great about them. And I kind of like [00:02:48] the ones that have some inner struggle, 

Rachel: You know, I think that’s what I like about Wolverine. We we named our son Logan after Wolverine and that was my husband. Yeah. That was my husband’s choice at first [00:03:03] and I was like, you know, it’s funny cuz I’m coming into this new stage where I’m getting into superheroes, but I kind of think I thought that was dorky like a decade ago. And so, you know when Pepper’s like yeah, I really want to name our son after Wolverine. I’m like, oh – don’t tell [00:03:18] anybody that it is so dorky, but then like like with it I like we’ve talked about before now. I have a Wonder Woman poster on my wall, and I’m really like loving superhero movies. I love The Avengers series. I’ve been re-watching [00:03:33] Lord of the Rings lately. Love those like epic stories, love Harry Potter. I mean, I guess he’s technically kind of a superhero if you want to think of it that way. Absolutely. Yeah, so I’m so I’m like kind of coming into this new stage, but talk about the flawed the flawed characters to me [00:03:48] Wolverine just like hits it because he’s he’s really trying to do good. But he’s having to deal with all of his own stuff. You know, I think Batman’s the same way. I like I like him a lot. 

Liz: So y’all might actually be the opposite of your reasoning [00:04:03] mine is Captain America he is just so dreamy and is not just because that…

Mary Scott: just because it’s awesome and good-looking. It’s not a nice good-looking his thin Thor.

Liz: Okay. That’s true. Not just because [00:04:18] Chris Evans the actor who plays him is handsome, but a big part of it is that he reminds me a lot of my husband. I there is nothing that I find more attractive than righteous indignation. We’ll just like [00:04:34] very right is right and wrong is wrong and I’m going to stand up for what’s right, no matter the cost. They’re both but both my husband and Captain America are Enneagram ones, and they’re both very much against government overreach. [00:04:49] I mean, come on be still my heart. That’s like the thing that’s closest to me. I love Captain America. I love what he stands for, you know, he is probably a lot closer to a quote-unquote perfect character or flawless [00:05:04] character than some of the ones that you mentioned, but I also I love Iron Man as well and that’s a difficult one. Definitely a Marvel person. 

But so what is it about superhero movies that really draw us in? [00:05:19] Why are they such a big thing right now? 

Rachel: I think there’s something in all of us that longs for the ideal. Longs to be the ideal, longs to admire the ideal. I mean, I think even back to Greek mythology was that was sort of hero Worship in a way [00:05:34] these stories that you know, these characters had superhero powers. And it’s just I think it’s something very interesting about our psyche that we long to bring out some kind of a power within and even as children. It’s just it just seems ingrained [00:05:49] in us to want to be larger than we are. 

Mary Scott: I think that is just something we as humans can’t get away from. Everyone wants to leave their mark. And of course some people [00:06:04] leave it in a big dramatic way. Some people leave it in a negative way. Mother Theresa left it in a in the streets of Delhi. I mean human beings want to leave something in our children in our on our [00:06:19] world and not just have the world keep going and keep spinning after we’re gone. And so I do think that super heroes and these larger-than-life stories tap into that basic desire to do something that lasts. 

Liz: I think there are two ways [00:06:34] you can look at it. There is a New York Times article that I read in research for this episode that took a really cynical look at it and it was almost a cult of self thing. Like we see ourselves [00:06:49] as the heroes of our own lives. And so we want to see that reflected on the screen. I think it’s the other way. I think we see in ourselves the possibility of greatness, but we need it demonstrated [00:07:04] for us through pop culture sometimes to be able to say “hey if that person can make the right decision or do the hard thing even if that hard thing is like, you know throwing a car to beat the bad guy then I do the right thing to make good decisions.” [00:07:19] 

But let’s bring it back down to real Earth who are some of your real life Heroes?

Rachel: I think the thing that all of my real life Heroes have in common I’ve been thinking about it is that they’re all they’re all people who are doing really hard things that require [00:07:34] tough sacrifices because they’re trying to harness the courage of their convictions. Like maybe I guess the for the Christian phrase that I hear a lot is die to yourself die to yourself. Y’all hear that sometimes in church? It’s what to me seems uncompelling are the [00:07:49] heroes who are, they’re selfish. They’re they’re well, they’re probably more like the villain they’re doing something out of a selfish motivation. So that’s uncompelling. But even when you think about the stories that were drawn to the characters who are heroes, they’re doing it out of love for [00:08:04] others. They’re putting themselves In Harm’s Way. I think that’s what we all kind of like want to shoot for but it’s just so hard. So like for instance the people that I really admire are doing things that I myself would find extremely hard.

No one’s going to know these people. They’re not [00:08:19] well-known people but the homeschooling mother of six, seven, eight kids. I think yeah, she’s a hero. Yeah, like I think of those people who like that could not possibly be easy they’re doing it because they have some kind of conviction. [00:08:34] They’ve got the courage of their conviction requires a ton of sacrifice and they’re doing it Anyway.

Mary Scott: I think about two types of two traits, I guess that are sometimes present in [00:08:49] one person at the same time and sometimes are just the big mark of that hero and one is persistence when I think about Margaret Thatcher, for instance, she was so persistent in her convictions for so long [00:09:04] and she stayed with it and stayed with it and stayed with it and stayed with it some more and and that is what it took. I just think we have a problem with that today in our everyday Heroes.

We don’t have as [00:09:19] many everyday Heroes because in America were let’s face it. We’re kind of a soft culture and when things get hard, you know, we sit down sometimes and too often. And heroes don’t stop, Heroes don’t accept no for an answer. [00:09:34] They keep going no matter what and they are not going to be pushed back or you know, they may have to go in a different direction. They may have to go around it. They may have to go over it. But they keep pushing and that is to me, you know, just a mark of a Great Hero and [00:09:49] the other one is for are just our everyday heroes or even our famous Heroes,  its Grace Under Pressure and seeing people who are under the most tremendous pressure handle situations with Grace and dignity and honesty [00:10:04] and all those great marks of a a person who knows themselves really well and who is able to function in a in a very tough circumstance with Grace and dignity. I just I really admire that so I’m going to get a little more

Liz: could y’all did` name some people? [00:10:19] Um, one of mine is Sir Nicholas Winton. He, y’all gosh, I’m gonna cry just thinking about it and I really think he at least in this part of his life really embodies some of the traits that y’all were just [00:10:34] talking about. So Sir Nicholas Winton was a British man who saved 669 mostly Jewish children from nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia at the eve of World War Two. [00:10:49] a few months ago, maybe a few years ago this point, there was a video that kind of circulated around where he who and he just passed away, I think of the beginning of 2019. But this was recorded a few years ago and he was stealing a very [00:11:04] elderly man. He was wheeled into this big room full of people and he knew he was being honored for what he did to save people’s lives in World War Two, but at the end it’s revealed that the people in the room with him are the [00:11:19] people he saved. They’re the children that he saved from the nazis and like they all stand up and like Gosh, I’m getting chills just thinking about it. But he, there are so many examples of that kind of story from World War Two where people stood in the face [00:11:34] of abject evil and did the hard thing. So he’s one of my heroes and we’ll link that video in the show notes because it’s just it’s so incredibly powerful, but some of my heroines are Elizabeth Cady Stanton and [00:11:49] 

Mary Scott: I had her down! I am down the suffragists 

Liz: Women who fought so hard in the first part of the 20th century to be granted the right to vote, even though the law said, they weren’t allowed to in many places and and Society was really hesitant [00:12:04] to, they fought and they fought and they fought and we’re coming up on the hundredth anniversary of the ratification of women’s suffrage, and that’s something really to be celebrated. 

Another thing, in Knoxville, Tennessee, at the market square there’s this [00:12:19] statue of suffragettes and I saw it in person about a year ago now and it was another one that just like made me tear up to think about these women who stood in the face of people telling them. [00:12:34] No, you’re wrong and said no, I’m going to stand here and fight for what I believe is right and they just persisted and persisted and then they ended up winning and obviously we’re on the right side of History. 

Mary Scott: Hmm. We just went to we just we took a family trip [00:12:49] and went to Williamsburg, and we saw course all the historic sites at Williamsburg, but Yorktown is nearby and you can go to Yorktown. You can go to Jamestown. There’s all kinds of History all through the peninsula there. But but I was just [00:13:04] really struck by the siege of Yorktown. And especially there was there was one part of that siege it wasn’t a battle. It was a siege but but there were these two readouts and they had to be taken and one was taken by a French contingent, because the French were our allies during [00:13:19] the war, but another was taken by one of our founding led by one of our founding fathers Alexander Hamilton. And we always think of him as a as a really a finance mind and kind of the father of our Wall Street and financials, but but he was also [00:13:34] a wartime leader and fought, unlike Jefferson. Jefferson who’s maybe even more renowned and remembered was never a member of the United States military. So or the colonial military. So I think of that hand-to-hand fighting and and not only that [00:13:49] the taking those redoubts meant they had to clear these brambles and clear these trenches that were dug. And I just think I mean, I was an Air Force member we never got anywhere near any kind of fighting like that nowhere even close. And that The Bravery that [00:14:04] it would have taken to run across that field and start hacking away at the the wood and the stacks of things that they had done to create a revetment. It’s unbelievable. 

Liz: Don’t know what half those words mean, Mary Scott![00:14:19] What is a redoubtment . And what is revetment?

Mary Scott: Just barriers they’re barriers that you would build and that you would that would be part of your defenses. 

Liz: Okay, thank you. All the other side of [00:14:34] things who are some people who may be used to be heroes to you who you felt betrayed by 

Rachel: this is kind of an interesting topic at the moment because Martin Luther King jr. The things that are going to be coming out about him over the next few years the recordings [00:14:49] that have been and just for anyone who hasn’t heard about that. There’s going to be some things coming about about him that are quite disappointing and I wonder about even just historical figures that we might not know everything about them and maybe they did they did the one great [00:15:04] thing. They were the leader of their time you mentioned Mother Teresa, but Christopher Hitchens the late British author, the the famed atheist took great issue with Mother Teresa and you think who could possibly take issue with her. But he wrote I [00:15:19] think an entire book about things that he saw is Major flaws in her. I’m not agreeing with that not disagreeing with that. But I think I have been thinking lately about your question. Can someone still be a hero when they turn out to be human or they turn out to be extremely [00:15:34] good in some areas and extremely awful? I mean, like people even idolized Steve Jobs say but after watching the documentary about him, I just kept thinking that the thing that kept coming back to me over and over was courage without kindness to me is not compelling. [00:15:49] 

Liz: Ah that gave me two chills. The courage without kindness.

Mary Scott: One mark of Generation X. My generation, is that we tend to be disbelieving, cynical, just not very trusting. And [00:16:06] I think that really inhibits our ability to identify with everyday Heroes. And we doubt them, and gen xers would often doubt them and I have a really [00:16:21] hard time when I find either a religious leader or a person who professes religion like a lot of politicians do. And you find out that they’ve done really terrible things that are totally contrary [00:16:36] to what they’ve said they are and Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart Come to mine and Josh Duggar and you know Reese you have been indicted in the news all obvious and and you know. There’s it’s when you say you’re one thing it’s one [00:16:51] thing when you have people that are when you have people that say they’re one thing they don’t they don’t profess to be something and you find out they’re bad. Well, okay, they didn’t profess to be good. But when you have people that profess that they’re good, [00:17:06] I guess it’s the may think style protest too much or I would protest as whatever The Shakespearean term is but the… And Alabama we’ve had men who’ve come out on the Ashley Madison list and that bugs the tar out of me. I’d have never voted for any of those politicians [00:17:21] that came out on the Ashley Madison list. I have a list. I know who they are and I don’t vote for them. And I just feel like if you’re because it all of our politicians protest their faith. If they really were that they wouldn’t be on that list. [00:17:36] 

Liz: It’s so funny you talk about the politicians because for me the answer is pretty simple and it’s it’s pretty much any politician I’ve ever supported except for you, Mary Scott.

Mary Scott: Yay! 

Liz: For those exact reasons [00:17:51] humans ultimately are fallible, but it particularly it seems to be particularly some those people who are in political office. I don’t know if it’s because you know you get there and you’re surrounded by this Pomp and Circumstance and [00:18:06] you’re so important because you can make decisions, and so that corrupts you over time or if because maybe some of these people were just saying the right things to get into office in the first place and the end, you know I want to I want to err on the side of believing the best in people [00:18:21] but when it happens over and over and over again, and it seems like we’ve really have have a rash of them here in Alabama, but it’s a nationwide thing. 

And and so I hate to be so cynical, but another [00:18:36] big one for me is not a politician. Obviously is Bill Cosby. I mean, I grew up watching The Cosby Show and loving that show and then all that stuff came out about him that to me that undermines the character you were playing, it undermines [00:18:51] everything that you are trying to teach us through what was such a wholesome family show in the 80s and 90s. I just like gah it hurts it hurts. 

Mary Scott: And that’s where it that’s when these Heroes to Fall From Grace. It doesn’t just hurt them. [00:19:06] It hurts everyone because you held them out. They were an example and and everybody’s flawed. I mean, come on, let’s face it and 

Liz: Not not everybody drugs young women and assaults them. I mean, that’s the deaf worse. [00:19:21] 

Mary Scott: Yeah, you’re right. I mean that was you know, nothing. Yeah horrible just completely horrible from start to finish. But it’s when people hold themselves out to be one thing and they’re absolutely not that thing. That’s what really disappoints [00:19:36] us. 

Liz: That’s what really stings and you know, they’re there so many of these kinds of stories that have come out in the last several years and it really to me puts a sharp edge on how they are truly there are heroes and heroines out there and there are people who do heroic [00:19:51] things but when hero worship turns into a form of idolatry. That’s when it gets so dangerous, so dangerous and we can we can turn people front we can hold them up to the point where we say. Oh, there’s no way they could have done anything wrong because [00:20:06] there are this person in my mind no matter you know, no matter what the other evidence says otherwise, but let’s lighten this conversation up a little bit. 

Let’s talk about some ways how we as individuals can be more heroic in the best [00:20:21] of ways. I mentioned in a previous episode that I believe it is so important to do things that scare us on a regular basis so we can exercise what I call our courage muscles. Along those lines. I found a few articles about how to be more [00:20:36] everyday Heroes. Here are some of my favorite suggestions. I’d love to get your feedback on these the top one is let go of your ego. Heroes don’t care who gets the credit.

Rachel: Love that! [00:20:51] 

Mary Scott: It is hard until you have done it a few times and then it’s like anything doesn’t it? Isn’t that the whole point of those articles that it gets easier as you practice, 

Liz: I think so, I think so. The next one is put your beliefs and action don’t just [00:21:06] talk the talk, but walk the walk. Support the things that you find important. Don’t just think someone should do such-and-such be the one who stands up and does. And this is a thing that I see over and over again and I hear [00:21:21] myself saying over and over again. It’s like well somebody should do something about that. Well, why am I not the one doing something about that? 

Rachel: I would just add that being able to be okay with only doing the one thing that you can do because [00:21:36] I think sometimes we get overwhelmed with the enormity of problems and it’s like there’s there’s arguments going on now in Alabama that people are being criticized for well, are you doing enough in this Arena, you know, and I think I think it’s like well, what can you do? [00:21:51] Go do that thing and then don’t you know, there’s lots of people with lots of gifts and you can’t do them all. And I know we all know that that is just so cliche, but then we give in to those arguments or someone’s like well, I don’t see you doing this and [00:22:06] you start to feel guilty and you’re like, yeah, but I do a lot of other stuff and if I did try to do it all at would miserably fail

Mary Scott: O think we all have a part to play and it’s important to when something bugs you, when something stands out to you, it’s important to figure out what part are you supposed [00:22:21] to play in this. You maybe aren’t supposed to Shepherd it from beginning to end. Maybe you’re supposed to only play some small part. Maybe you’re only supposed to just know about it was spread the word 

Rachel: Like The Avengers team, they have their one superpower or it’s like the body of Christ, you know, [00:22:36] you there are the teachers, and the people who sing in the choir, and you know, it’s just I love that and again getting back to that Superhero idea you do your thing really well. 

Liz: I think I think what you’re saying Rachel goes back to the letting go of your ego [00:22:51] part. You’re exactly right. You can’t be all things for all people and do everything and try to take on responsibility for everything part of that too. I think is being okay with saying listen, I’ve got my lane and I am putting my [00:23:06] heart and soul into it and that’s how I’m being a hero for my family, my community, and the things I believe the most strongly in. 

The next one on the list was that I thought was good was being generous with genuine compliments. How many times have you been standing [00:23:21] in line at the grocery or at the park or somewhere And somebody said oh, I really love that dress! Or your this is this is one I used to love when when people would say this to my mom when I was little because I’m so type A but your children are [00:23:36] so well-behaved instead of just giving bad looks when your kids are being snotty in the in the store. Just how that can light up…

Mary Scott: there that never happens!

Liz: But just how something as small as complimenting another woman, [00:23:51] particularly, can just really light up their whole day. 

Mary Scott: I let me say where that can really make a difference. When you’re in a situation where, like I’m often times in a boardroom and my work situation, and when the the [00:24:06] chairman or the president turns to you, you know, you’ve done something good you related to the group, you know, it may just be a normal part of the week. But when they say good job, you know, they don’t belabor it but they just kinda you know, just a good job. That’s it. It it just [00:24:21] fills your tank, you know? That is just so and I think it’s important to remember because we’re all going to either be in the situation where we get a compliment or we have an opportunity to give a compliment and it’s great when it’s private. It’s in the grocery [00:24:36] store line. It’s unexpected or it comes from your husband and it’s one-on-one. But when it’s in a setting of we’re with your if your peers where it’s genuine and it’s real and it’s directed at something that you did that truly does add value. I [00:24:51] think that’s that just has a way of filling up your tank. 

Rachel: You know, that makes me think of and I cannot remember which book of his but Ernest Hemingway wrote in one of his books that the worst thing you could do to a man would be to compliment him in front of his colleagues. Do y’all remember [00:25:06] that line? But here’s here’s why because I remember puzzling over that as well because I think words of affirmation and you know, someone having your Superior give you credit for things is so important and I think I know why he said that, or at least this is what it’s ended up meaning to me. I really [00:25:21] love it when somebody compliments you and then doesn’t leave a pause for you to have to respond. In front when this is in front of people because it’s almost like being put on the spot when you’re given a Christmas present and everybody’s watching you to get your reaction. So what I think that [00:25:36] looks like is this Mary Scott you really did an excellent job in that presentation. I think you just absolutely hit the mark So guys what do we think about blah blah blah blah. Do you you know what I’m saying where the people don’t leave a pause or they give you a compliment and then they move [00:25:51] on and you don’t have to respond and be put on the spot? It’s one of those little y’all know. I’m a communication geek, I geek out on the stuff, but that’s me is like a really brilliant way to let somebody be in the spotlight and then let them also graciously not have to be like, [00:26:06] oh well, thank you or no. No, I didn’t do much. You know, we’re like whatever that response has to be. 

Mary Scott: So that’s what I’m talking about. I mean these are you what you what you asked originally was Liz was just little compliments you not generous in your little you know, it doesn’t have to be this big thing. [00:26:21] But when you are “great job Mary Scott great job Rachel” and you just move on there’s just something so businesslike and crisp and it just leaves you with a good feeling and sets the tone.

Liz: I think I really important skill [00:26:36] is being able to not only give but receive compliments gracefully. And I know that’s something that that women struggle with a lot but just being able to say smile and say thank you and then move on I think it’s an important skill to develop. [00:26:51] Because it can feel awkward sometimes. 

Rachel: I agree I agree and not like sabotaging it and be like, you know start saying all the reasons why it wasn’t a good thing right 

Mary Scott: Heroes wouldn’t do that, would they?

Rachel: Someone is like, “you look so pretty today.” I just like, I don’t know. Why don’t I look [00:27:06] horrible. 

Liz: Like who was that serving? That’s not serving you and it also you might put the person who complimented you inthe first place and then awkward situation.

Mary Scott: Think about what Super Man says when you know in the movies when you know, all these little kids thank you Superman. He [00:27:21] says, “you’re welcome young man!” You know, I mean, there’s no like self-effacing stepping back and it was nothing and I don’t know if you know it was it’s a that was a big deal and I’m up to the challenge. 

Liz: The last one I have on the list [00:27:36] is sign up to be an organ donor and donate blood if and when you can this message brought to you by the American Red Cross. just kidding, but seriously. that is that is a super easy and and potentially important [00:27:51] and life saving small step you can take to be an everyday hero. 

Mary Scott: Absolutely. I have a friend that just lost her daughter and her daughter. It was a tragic loss because she was young but she [00:28:06] on she was born and she lived 24 years, and she died, and on the day of her death she gave life to four other people through organ donation, and she’s a hero for that reason.

Rachel: you know in [00:28:21] on the on the topic of being an everyday hero and just doing little things, you know back to Mother Teresa something an idea that she put forward was everybody says they want to go and work in third world countries and help orphans and do all these things. [00:28:36] But what are you doing for the people in your own home? And that’s always kind of struck a chord with me just as a mother and a wife. Maybe I’m daydreaming about doing some awesome thing one day and really helping people. But then if I grumble about having [00:28:51] to make dinner for my family, like but you want to go feed orphans? So just you know, the people who are in your sphere of influence and your sphere of responsibility, you know, being an everyday hero to them. 

Liz: I love that and I thank you [00:29:06] all for all of your brilliant suggestions and additions to this conversation. Well, I think that does conclude our Belle Curve Convo about superheroes, please let us know what you think by joining the conversation on Twitter Instagram or Facebook [00:29:21] @BelleCurvePod. And again, please take a minute to subscribe rate and review on Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever you download podcasts. It really helps us get into the feeds of other people who might be looking for some [00:29:36] girl talk with it with the Belle Curve Ladies. So, please take a minute to do that and we’ll see you next week!