The journalist talks about her new docu-series, Timelines, why she goes makeup-free on Instagram and what she wears to feel her most confident
Katie Couric’s latest project is putting her investigative journalism skills to beautiful use.
The award-winning journalist, 62, partnered with skincare brand SK-II on a new docu-series, Timelines, that explores the societal expectations women face globally surrounding the topic of marriage within the brand’s #ChangeDestiny campaign. And PEOPLE caught up with Couric to chat about her exciting new project, approach to social media, self-care exercises and more.
For the four-part video series, Couric visited Japan, China, Korea and New York City to explore the pressures put on women by their families and society, and spark a conversation on marriage and the unique role it plays in their life timelines, according to the skincare brand.
While the young women featured in the videos struggle to shape their own lives while balancing the expectations of family members and friends, Couric tells PEOPLE she embraces whatever her own daughters, Ellie Monahan, 27, and Carrie Monahan, 23, want to do — traditional or not.
“I don’t think she felt pressured to get married,” Couric tells PEOPLE about her eldest daughter, Ellie, who recently got engaged to her longterm boyfriend. “She’s writing her own timeline. I didn’t get married until I was 32. So Ellie’s going to be 28 but I also think you have to have a lot of confidence in your children and let them make their own choices and respect what they want to do so I’m happy for her. She’s so happy and I love Mark, her fiancé.”
However, Couric also made it a point to mention that whichever path women chose to go down, their choice should respected, including marrying at a younger age.
“You have to respect everybody’s choice, right? When women started working, they started putting down women who didn’t work. And women who didn’t work were putting down women who did work and everybody needs to pick the path that’s right for them and not be subjected to so much judgment,” says Couric.
In her four decades in front of the camera, Couric has been subjected to her own fair share of judgement and pressure to look a certain way. But she believes social media is changing the way people think — for the better.
“I’m really gratified by what I’m seeing in the media with body positivity and people really expressing themselves in their own unique way and not feeling as if they have to adhere to the socially acceptable version of beauty,” says Couric. “I think it’s really exciting. I think that social media is allowing that expression.”
She acknowledges that there is pressure to be perfect on social media, but the overriding trend is one that celebrates one’s own authentic self, referencing Tracee Ellis Ross’s recent bikini-clad Instagram where the actress proudly pointed out her love handles, stomach and butt.
“I think that women are starting to say nobody’s perfect. But with our flaws, we can still be great. So I think it’s cool.”
And Couric often makes it a point to show the honest, real, unfiltered side of herself on social media. For as many times she posts herself in full hair and makeup looking camera-ready, she’s sharing a makeup-free selfie in her pajamas from bed.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I resonated with the [TODAY] audience is because I wasn’t perfect and people saw that I was accessible and the same way off camera as I was on,” she shares. “So I think I’ve always tapped into being my authentic self and I think with social media, and especially Instagram stories, there’s less pressure and in fact, it’s a turn-off when it feels too manufactured or posed or thought out. The spontaneity, I think, is what people gravitate towards so I’m a pretty spontaneous, normal person in general, so it’s just been a fun outlet for me.”
That said, even Couric relies on the power of fashion — particularly a suit or an all-black outfit— to give her a boost of confidence. “Such a predictable New York thing to say but there is something about black that just makes you feel like, ‘Don’t f— with me, fellas.'”
Somewhere she appreciates a burst of color: her beautiful garden in the Hamptons. “I’ve really become obsessed with flowers and when I see beautiful flowers it just makes me so happy.”
And when it comes to self-care, she swears by a medley of activities — taking baths, spending time with friends, exercising, eating well and maintaining a healthy perspective about life. But she says the most effective form of self-care isn’t focused on herself.
“I try not to get too obsessed with self-care because I feel like my best version of self, my best form of self-care is actually caring about other people and that is actually what makes me feel really good.”
One thing she’s actively working on is being more “gentle and generous” with herself.
“I still am very self-critical, which I’m trying to change,” she shares. “I said something self-deprecating, which I thought was endearing and my daughter [Ellie] texted me and said, ‘Ma, stop putting yourself down.’ And I think that we’re programmed to criticize ourselves. I have to catch myself.”
“I think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve just become more accepting of who I am and I try to accentuate the positives, what I like about myself — like my incredible arm muscles — instead of what I don’t like about myself,” she says with a laugh.
(Editor’s note: Her arm muscles are indeed, incredible.)