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7 astounding photos this mom took to prove beauty is in everyone.

Beauty doesn't always come in a 'perfect' package.

7 astounding photos this mom took to prove beauty is in everyone.

When Maryland photographer Stephanie Smith arrived in Milwaukee to photograph Charlie, a little boy in hospice, she didn't know what to expect.

She had already photographed 16 children living with health issues and disabilities but never one who lived day-to-day with oxygen and a feeding tube. However, all it took was a few moments with Charlie for her to completely fall in love.


Charlie with Stephanie. Image provided by Stephanie Smith.

"I looked at him and touched his sweet face and just broke down," Smith said.

Charlie has a neurological impairment called hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, which means his brain is deprived of an adequate oxygen supply. He has survived longer than his doctors expected, and while it's difficult for him to show emotion, that didn't stop Smith from forming a deep connection with him.

And it's the same with all the kids she photographs.

In early 2016, Smith began her journey of photographing kids with disorders, disabilities, and differences, thanks to a mom whose child has autism.

All images by Stephanie L. Smith Photography, used with permission.

The girl's mom had scheduled a photo shoot for her daughter with a professional photographer, but the photographer canceled the shoot when he found out the little girl had autism, saying that she was not his "ideal client."

At that moment, Smith knew she had to do something to right this wrong.

Smith has firsthand experience of what life is like with a loved one who has an illness and disability.

Her sister Melissa fought and beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma twice before developing transverse myelitis, a rare neurological disease that left her paralyzed from the chest down.

Thanks to a $400,000 grant from Chive's Charities, however, Melissa is now living an almost completely independent life.

That incredible generosity inspired Smith to move ahead with her plan to give back, a project she called Lenses for Love.

Lenses for Love is an ongoing project in which Smith donates photoshoots to families of children with disabilities, disorders, and health conditions.

Smith knows that it isn't easy for families to afford things like photo shoots when they're already financial strained by medical bills, but that's only one reason she's offering her services free of charge.

The other reason is to help change the stigma that can surround people with disabilities and differences.

"I want to open up that dialogue, get rid of that fear, and change what our society says is beautiful," Smith says.

When Smith put out word about Lenses for Love on Facebook, she was immediately flooded with responses from parents.

Her offer was answering a need that many, many families of disabled children have — for their child to be looked at just like every other cute kid.

Smith is only one woman (who also has a son and works full time as an office manager), so she's only been able to give photo shoots to three families a month. She's on a mission to change that.

"I want to build a platform for other photographers who will step up and donate their time and services to these families," she said.

She's currently working to expand her page and make it more of a crowdsourcing site where photographers from around the country can volunteer their services too.

Smith's photos are truly wonderful, but she wants the attention to remain on the kids she photographs.

Smith says no matter their struggles, they're all strong, resilient, happy kids who inspire her every day — and that goes double for their parents.

She's built lasting relationships with all the families and refers to them as "my family." They are incredibly supportive, she said, and are just thrilled their kids can have these photographic experiences.

At the end of the day, parents just want photos that treat their kids the same as any other, taken by a photographer who can make them feel comfortable. And that's exactly what Smith does.

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Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

File:Pornhub-logo.svg - Wikimedia Commons

A 2015 survey conducted by the National Union of Students found that 60% of respondents turned to porn to fill in the gaps in sex education. While 40% of those people said they learned a little, 75% of respondents said they felt porn created unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. Some of the unrealistic expectations from porn can be dangerous. A study found that 88% of porn contained violence, and another study found that those who consumed porn were more likely to become sexually aggressive.

But now the thing that breaks those unrealistic expectations… might also be porn? Pornhub has launched a sex education section.

The adult website's first series is simply titled, "Pornhub Sex Ed" and contains 11 videos and is accessible through the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. The section also contains articles, some showing real anatomy and examples in order to bust myths people may have picked up on other portions of the website.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

I saw this poster today and I was going to just let it go, but then I kept feeling tugged to say something.

Melanie Cholish/Facebook

While this poster is great to bring attention to the issue of child trafficking, it is a "shocking" picture of a young girl tied up. It has that dark gritty feeling. I picture her in a basement tied to a dripping pipe.

While that sounds awful, it's important to know that trafficking children in the US is not all of that. I can't say it never is—I don't know. What I do know is most young trafficked children aren't sitting in a basement tied up. They have families, and someone—usually in their family—is trafficking them.

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While many of us have understandably let the challenges of 2020 get under our skin and bring us down, a young man from Florida was securing his place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full triathlon.

For the majority of people, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride or a 26.2 mile run would be difficult on its own. The Ironman competition requires participants to complete them all in one grueling race. In a statement, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock called Chris "an inspiration to all of us." She continued, "We are incredibly proud of Chris and the work he has put in to achieve this monumental goal. He's become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world."

Nikic's journey to become an Ironman started off as a challenge far less lofty. He and his father, Nik, created the "1 percent better challenge." The idea was to keep Chris motivated during the pandemic and beyond. According to The Washington Post, the idea was for Chris to improve his workouts by one percent each day because he "doesn't like pain" but loves "food, videos games and my couch." The plan was to keep building strength and stamina while keeping his eye on the grand prize of completing a triathlon. Nik told the Panama City News Herald, "I was concerned because after high school and after graduation a lot of kids with Down syndrome become isolated and just start living a life of isolation. I said, 'Look, let's go find him something to get him back into the world and get him involved,' so we started looking around and we were fortunate that at the same time Special Olympics Florida started this triathlon program, and I thought, 'What a great way to get him started, get him in shape and get him to make some friends.'"


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