A powerful portrait series shows us the beauty of birthmarks.

Linda Hansen got her start doing commercial photography in Denmark. But she knew she wanted to use her camera for more than just selling products.

After experimenting with a few different projects (she once traveled the country photographing and interviewing other women named Linda Hansen!), it was a conversation with an old friend that sparked what would become her most important work to date.

Hansen's friend, a woman she had known since childhood, had a unique and distinctive birthmark on her face (called nevus flammeus nuchae or sometimes a "port wine stain"). They'd often talk about how people reacted seeing her on the street and some of the strange (and mean) comments she'd get.


"I got the idea that I have to take photos. I have to meet and talk with these people," Hansen says.

Hansen began searching for more people like her friend for a series of portraits. Surprisingly, they were incredibly easy to find.

A casual casting call on Facebook got shared hundreds of times. Hansen started noticing people on the street who might fit the bill. Friends and acquaintances connected her with potential models.

Seemingly everyone knew someone with a birthmark they'd be proud to contribute to her project. (According to WebMD, about 1 in 300 babies are born with some form of the condition).

All photos by Linda Hansen, used with permission.

In her portraits, Hansen aims to challenge how we all see and treat each other. And ourselves.

One of the models, a man, was extremely nervous. He had only let people photograph him from his "good side" for as long as he could remember. And only in black and white.

A head-on, color portrait filled him with dread. But he pushed through.

"I was really surprised what people can say to each other. [The models] get a lot of rude comments," Hansen says. "Sauce face, pizza face." And that's not the worst of it.

She says doesn't understand how we can celebrate the beautiful uniqueness of, say, tattoos but look away from nature's own marks.

In her photos, Hansen challenges us to not look away. To not stare or sneak a glance. But to truly see and eventually see past the things that make us different.

"When we know each other well, the way we look isn't important anymore," she says. "So much worry about how we look, for who? For people we don't know."

She says society tells us we all need to be alike. Photoshopped models and celebrities convey the message "No wrinkles, no scars, no spots, no nothing," Hansen says.

"We all have our small differences, and that's what makes us human and unique."

All in all, Hansen took 32 portraits and compiled them into a book, called "Naevus Flammeus."

She's hoping the portraits, along with notes on the history of birthmarks and discussion of how (and, more importantly if) they should be treated, will make us all more aware of what makes us different; whether it's a birthmark, a scar, a set of wrinkles, or even something unseen by the naked eye altogether.

Because what makes us different is ultimately what makes us human.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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Culture