I did the math on the Oscars. And unfortunately, it's a bummer.

This year's Academy Awards don't just have a racial diversity problem (which you've probably heard all about by now), the nominations have a gender age gap problem, too.


The youngest nominated actress is 21-year-old Saoirse Ronan. The oldest nominated actor is 69-year-old Sylvester Stallone. Photo on the left by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images. Photo on the right by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

There's a 10-year difference between the average age of the nominated actors and actresses this year.

That is, the average age of those in the best leading actor and supporting actor categories is 47, while that number is 37 in the best leading actress and supporting actress columns.

Hmmm. Houston, do we have a big, sexism-meets-ageism problem on our hands here?

GIF via "Happy Endings."

Maybe I'm just being paranoid. I mean, any statistician would probably tell me that I can't just look at a single year's worth of data and claim there's a problematic pattern (at least, that's what I assume a statistician would tell me, if I asked).

So I looked at the ages of last year's nominees. Surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly), a nearly identical gap existed in 2015. The average age of the actors at the time of last year's awards was 51, while it was 41 for the actresses.

And actually ... this pattern goes back even further. Between 2002 and 2013, the average age of the nominated actors was 48, while the average age of the nominated actresses was 40.

If one time is a mistake, two times is concerning, and three times is a pattern...yeah, Houston, it seems we have a problem here.

The Oscars' bias against older women is long and well-documented.

The Chicago Tribune, for instance, created a super handy interactive graph that plots all the acting nominees and winners between the very first Academy Awards in 1929 and 2014, when Lupita Nyong'o won for her role in "12 Years a Slave."

As the Tribune's graph shows, not only do Oscar voters gravitate toward relatively younger actresses during the nominating process, but the actors who win tend to be older than the average male nominee, while the actresses who win tend to be younger than the average female nominee.

Lupita Nyong'o won Best Supporting Actress for her role in "12 Years a Slave" in 2014. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Marie Claire.

So why does this weird gap exist? Is Hollywood filled with awful, sexist, ageist dudes in powerful positions?

While we can't rule that out, the problem is a bit more complicated than that.

As is the case with the Oscars' lack of racial diversity, nominees (and winners) are more a reflection of what types of movies are actually getting produced and gaining attention, as well as what types of roles are available in those movies. For decades, studio heads have assumed American moviegoers won't watch a film with, say, a person of color as the lead. Or with a female-led cast. Or an openly gay main character. Despite these notions being proven wrong time and time again — remember when "Straight Outta Compton" blew away the box office, or when Melissa McCarthy’s “Spy” raked in $236 million last year? — Hollywood bigwigs still seem hesitant to fund projects they deem "risky" for their bottom lines.

The discriminatory nature of the Oscars is the result of a much deeper-rooted, systemic problem in the film industry.

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, after they won Oscars for Best Original Screenplay for "Good Will Hunting." Photo by Hal Garb/AFP/Getty Images.

When women get older, for instance, the number of prominent roles available to them shrinks way more than it does for aging men. Part of the problem is the fact that old(er) dudes being romantically matched with women half their age on screen is a normalcy (no one batted an eye when then-50-year-old Steve Carell was paired with then-29-year-old Olivia Wilde in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone"), while the reverse is a rarity.

In case you're wondering what Oscar-winner Dame Helen Mirren thinks of this sad double standard, she believes it's "f*cking outrageous." Photo by Ari Perilstein/Getty Images for FIJI Water.

There may be another factor helping drive the gender age gap at the Oscars.

Research out of Rice University suggests the fact women tend to launch their acting careers earlier than their male peers contributes to the fact they get recognized for their work (i.e., snag an Oscar nod) at a younger age.

Anne Lincoln, who was a sociology postdoctoral fellow at the time of the study in 2005, analyzed all the Oscar nominees dating back to the beginning of the awards and found women historically start acting an average of roughly two-four years earlier than men do. So it's natural they'd win awards earlier too.

But that doesn't dismiss the idea that Hollywood is partial to young women — it may support it.

"Is there a Hollywood bias toward younger women? That could be part of it,” Lincoln explained, noting that particular question wasn't part of her study's framework. "Women are more likely to be fashion models than men are, and if they begin modeling while they’re young, that might support a social-network approach to acting careers."

There's no easy way to fix the systemic oppression of certain groups at the Oscars. But, to give the Academy credit, they're trying.

After the whole Internet (or at least a ton of angry people on Twitter and Facebook) collectively rolled their eyes in frustration that all the acting nods went to white actors this year (for the second year in a row), the Academy took significant steps to change the status quo.

Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

The Academy, which is overwhelmingly old, white, and male, is aiming to double the number of women and diverse folks in its membership (the people who actually cast votes for the Oscars) by 2020. It's also capping voting statuses at 10 years for inactive members, which will lead to a younger voting pool down the line.

No, this won't be an overnight fix for the larger systemic problems facing the film industry. But Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs said the Oscars can't afford to sit back and hope change will come.

“The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up,” she said in a statement. “These new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.”

Diversity, FTW. But will this close the gender age gap for Academy Awards down the road? One can only guess. But I, for one, agree with Mirren: Hollywood double standards are f*cking outrageous. And it's about time the Oscars aim to put an end to them.


Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
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When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

Ronny Tertnes' "liquid sculptures" are otherworldly.

Human beings have sculpted artwork out of all kinds of materials throughout history, from clay to concrete to bronze. Some sculpt with water in the form of ice, but what if you could create sculptures with small drops of liquid?

Norwegian artist Ronny Tertnes does just that. His "liquid sculptures" look like something from another planet or another dimension, while at the same time are entirely recognizable as water droplets.

I mean, check this out:


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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

The scarf, a simple accessory that some find an essential fashion piece. Both fashionable and function with the warmth they provide, scarves can be a valuable gift for any occasion or person. Here, we've selected our best selling scarves from our store. At Upworthy Market, when you purchase a product, you directly support the artisans who craft their own products, so with every purchase, you're doing good. These scarves are not only unique, but they are hand-made by local artisans and all under $30.

1. Fair Trade Woven Dark Gray Alpaca Blend Scarf

Celinda Jaco selects a cozy blend of Andean alpaca for this handsome men's scarf. Classic in style, it features fine stripes of white and black woven through the dark grey textile. Hand-tied fringe completes a distinguished design.

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Anyone who's ever had a 2-year-old knows that they can be … a lot. Adorable for sure, but … a lot. Toddlers are just starting to figure out that they have their own free will, but they have zero idea how to wield it or use it for good. They want what they want, when they want it—except when they change their mind and absolutely do not want what they just wanted—and they don't really have the emotional maturity or verbal acuity to adequately express any of these things without crying, whining or screaming.

There's a reason they're so darn cute.

For parents, handling a 2-year-old's 2-year-oldness can be a challenge. You can't rationalize with them. You know they're not being little toddler terrors on purpose. You know that they're just learning and that it's a stage and a phase that won't last forever, but when you're in it? Phew.

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