+

With the music video below, rapper Heems challenges the bizarre equation of skin whiteness with beauty.

As you'll see, skin whitening may not bring the joy and adoration users might expect.

There's a bummer history and psychology to skin bleaching.

According to Obiora Anekwe of Columbia University, people don't use skin whiteners because of happy thoughts and experiences. There's a history of prejudice and inequality behind the practice:


"Skin bleaching also symbolizes more complex psychological issues such as self-perception and self-esteem that have plagued people of color since the advent of international slavery, especially in the Americas."

In East Asia, there's an old saying — "One white covers up three ugliness" — which dates back to a time when people believed not only that white skin was cleaner, but also that lighter skin signified you were wealthy enough not to have to toil under the sun.

Skin whiteners are a potentially unsafe health choice.

The most common active ingredients are hydroquinone, steroids, and retinoids, all of which can be harmful to the skin and should only be used in consultation with a dermatologist. Some skin whitening products even contain mercury.

Not that Mercury, unfortunately.

I'm talking about the toxic metallic element mercury.

This stuff is actually used in some of those creams. According to WebMD, one study found mercury in 1 in 4 of every skin whitening cream made in Asia.

Prolonged use of mercury-containing skin whiteners can lead to kidney damage and a bunch of other serious health problems.

Skin bleaching has become a global health epidemic.

And who's to blame? I think you already know.

Professor Evelyn Nakano Glenn of the University of California Berkeley says skin whitening "has been stimulated by the companies that produce these products. Their advertisements connect happiness and success and romance with being lighter skinned."

Mercury-containing skin whiteners have been banned in some parts of the world, but between shops that still import the creams and the Internet, people can still get them pretty easily no matter where they are.

While a worldwide ban would be helpful, at the end of the day, it's an individual choice. So the most important thing we can do is keep chipping away at this "white is right" beauty standard.

Because this...

...is a scam.

And if you're still not convinced, just watch these ridiculous skin whitening ads. Hopefully they'll do the trick.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being...are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.