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A simple 8-panel cartoon on toy choices for boys and girls.

Shopping for toys might not seem like an important parenting moment, but it is.

For example, when my wife and I are looking online or at a shop somewhere, our 7-year-old boy frequently chooses toys that are marketed to girls, like pink backpacks and sparkly purple art projects.

Some parents might steer him over to a different set of toys, but we make a point to not pass judgment. We do caution him that he might have some kids teasing him, but that doesn't bother him one bit. In fact, that kind of peer pressure doesn't affect his decisions at all (proud papa moment there!).


Toys are still gendered and it's often in a way that's unfair to girls.

Many of the toys that toy makers typically assign to girls point them in a certain direction, often associated with homemaking and pleasing men, a point recently made by comic artist Christine Deneweth, who published a fantastic cartoon about kids and gender discrimination (see below).

Deneweth says she was watching TV when she saw toy commercials featuring boys conquering the world while girls stayed at home. She realized that the toys weren't just gendered, they were limiting girls to few roles in society.

"Boy toys market that boys can be anything: scientists, dragon masters, sports stars, superheroes, and so much more," she said. "Girl toys limit girls into being moms and cooks. And while it is good to be a mom or a cook, toy marketing doesn't show girls in a variety of roles. This can be damaging because girls need to see that they can do anything, too."

This comic does a great job of showing just how gendered toys can send the wrong messages to kids.

It's worth noting, of course, that just because a woman does these things doesn't mean she's "doing it for men." Many women cook, make dinner, are moms, and wear dresses because they want to do those things for themselves. But it is a problem that toys marketed to girls reinforce the message that women and girls are supposed to be doing these things, and they aren't being given opportunities to try other things. And vice versa for boys.

Stereotypical toys can be harmful to boys, girls, and those who don't identify as either.

For example, I am the family cook and my boys do the laundry. These are not gendered roles at all in our house.

But I'll be damned if I can find a cooking set in the boys' section at the toy store.

There are companies that are breaking these molds, such as GoldieBlox, which offers toys that can inspire girls to be engineers, to build things, to dream beyond traditional roles.

Image from Hasbro promotional video.

Even bigger companies like Hasbro have received enough pressure to offer gender-neutral toys when previously, Easy-Bake ovens were only offered in pink and purple. Who made them consider changing? A 13-year-old kid.

Perhaps we're decades away from gender-neutral being the norm, but every time we talk about this, we make progress.

And parents (or kids) ... if you find a toy that bugs you because it's blatantly sexist, feel free to have a conversation about it, or start a petition, or just refuse to buy into the stereotypes.

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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Architectural Digest/Youtube

This house was made with love.

Celebrity home tours are usually a divisive topic. Some find them fun and inspirational. Others find them tacky or out of touch. But this home tour has seemingly brought unanimous joy to all.

“Stranger Things” actor David Harbour and British singer-songwriter Lily Allen, whose Vegas wedding in 2020 came with an Elvis impersonator, gave a tour of their delightfully quirky Brooklyn townhouse for Architectural Digest, and people were absolutely loving it.

For one thing, the house just looks cool. There’s nothing monotone or minimalist about it. No beige to be seen.

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Finally, someone explains why we all need subtitles

It seems everyone needs subtitles nowadays in order to "hear" the television. This is something that has become more common over the past decade and it's caused people to question if their hearing is going bad or if perhaps actors have gotten lazy with enunciation.

So if you've been wondering if it's just you who needs subtitles in order to watch the latest marathon-worthy show, worry no more. Vox video producer Edward Vega interviewed dialogue editor Austin Olivia Kendrick to get to the bottom of why we can't seem to make out what the actors are saying anymore. It turns out it's technology's fault, and to get to how we got here, Vega and Kendrick took us back in time.

They first explained that way back when movies were first moving from silent film to spoken dialogue, actors had to enunciate and project loudly while speaking directly into a large microphone. If they spoke and moved like actors do today, it would sound almost as if someone were giving a drive-by soliloquy while circling the block. You'd only hear every other sentence or two.

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Health

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to run their YouthLine teen crisis hotline

“Each volunteer gets more than 60 hours of training, and master’s level supervisors are constantly on standby in the room.”

Oregon utilizes teen volunteers to man YouthLine teen crisis hotline

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Mental health is a top-of-mind issue for a lot of people. Thanks to social media and people being more open about their struggles, the stigma surrounding seeking mental health treatment appears to be diminishing. But after the social and emotional interruption of teens due the pandemic, the mental health crises among adolescents seem to have jumped to record numbers.

PBS reports that Oregon is "ranked as the worst state for youth mental illness and access to care." But they're attempting to do something about it with a program that trains teenagers to answer crisis calls from other teens. They aren't alone though, as there's a master's level supervisor at the ready to jump in if the call requires a mental health professional.

The calls coming into the Oregon YouthLine can vary drastically, anywhere from relationship problems to family struggles, all the way to thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Teens manning the phones are provided with 60 hours of training and are taught to recognize when the call needs to be taken over by the adult supervisor.

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Family

Mom shares her brutal experience with 'hyperemesis gravidarum' and other moms can relate

Hyperemesis gravidarum is a severe case of morning sickness that can last up until the baby is born and might require medical attention.

@emilyboazman/TikTok

Hyperemesis gravidarum isn't as common as regular morning sickness, but it's much more severe.

Morning sickness is one of the most commonly known and most joked about pregnancy symptoms, second only to peculiar food cravings. While unpleasant, it can often be alleviated to a certain extent with plain foods, plenty of fluids, maybe some ginger—your typical nausea remedies. And usually, it clears up on its own by the 20-week mark. Usually.

But sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes moms experience stomach sickness and vomiting, right up until the baby is born, on a much more severe level.

Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), isn’t as widely talked about as regular morning sickness, but those who go through it are likely to never forget it. Persistent, extreme nausea and vomiting lead to other symptoms like dehydration, fainting, low blood pressure and even jaundice, to name a few.

Emily Boazman, a mom who had HG while pregnant with her third child, showed just how big of an impact it can make in a viral TikTok.

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The cast of TLC's "Sister Wives."

Dating is hard for just about anyone. But it gets harder as people age because the dating pool shrinks and older people are more selective. Plus, changes in dating trends, online etiquette and fashion can complicate things as well.

“Sister Wives” star Christine Brown is back in the dating pool after ending her “spiritual union” with polygamist Kody Brown and she needs a little help to get back in the swing of things. Christine and Kody were together for more than 25 years and she shared him with three other women, Janelle, Meri and Robyn.

Janelle and Meri have recently announced they’ve separated from Kody. Christine publicly admitted that things were over with Kody in November 2021.

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