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At first I found myself singing along, then I realized just how messed up the lyrics were.

As a self proclaimed film and TV buff, I'm always excited for awards season. But when the nominations for the 2015 Oscar awards were revealed, I couldn't help but notice one glaringly obvious trend. At first I thought I might be seeing things, but then I heard a Taylor Swift parody that summed up exactly how I felt about the 2015 Oscars.

At first I found myself singing along, then I realized just how messed up the lyrics were.

So what exactly did I notice? Well, let's take a look at the 2015 acting nominees.

Best actor in a leading role


From left to right, Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper, and Benedict Cumberbatch

Best actress in a leading role

From left to right, Marion Cotillard, Rosamund Pike, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore, and Reese Witherspoon

Best actor in a supporting role



From left to right, Robert Duvall, Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke, J.K. Simmons, and Edward Norton


Best actress in a supporting role


From left to right, Patricia Arquette, Emma Stone, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, and Keira Knightley

As you can see, some of Hollywood's best and brightest stars have been nominated for the year's top acting honor. And while I can't deny my love for Meryl Streep, Robert Duvall, and Marion Cotillard, the lack of diversity in the 2015 nominees is incredibly disappointing. Not ONE actor or actress of color? And then there's the Best Director nominees, which are completely male-dominated. Now don't get me wrong, we shouldn't be handing out award nominations based on gender or the color of one's skin. I'm also not suggesting that any of these stars are underqualified. There's a lot of talent in this bunch!

But the Academy Awards' lack of diversity says a lot about the state of Hollywood. And although it's "just entertainment," how marginalized people (which includes women and people of color) are portrayed in Hollywood and other forms of media has an effect on how they're perceived in the world. Studies have also shown that diverse representations in media not only promote tolerance but also can improve self esteem. Sadly, it's not just the 2015 nominees that lack diversity. Take a look at this infographic that breaks down the Academy Awards' makeup over the past 87 years. It's not pretty.

Strangely enough, I've been known to capture my feelings (both good and bad) through song, so when I stumbled upon this Taylor Swift parody on the sad state of the 2015 Oscars, I couldn't help but think, "I wish this wasn't so truthful, but damn it, it's so, so good." Take a look at the video below, which hits on a number of Hollywood's problems, including diversity and sexism on the red carpet.

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Considering it's a parody of Taylor Swift's hit "Blank Space," it's obvious why "Blank Slate" is an automatic head-bopper. But it's the lyrics that really drive home why this parody is so spot on.

"Read about it in a magazine
Ain't it funny just how white
The year's lineup always ends up being
So hey, let's pretend
That racism is at an end
Grab your remote and my hand
We can be colorblind just for the weekend." — "Blank Space Oscars 2015 Commentary"





When you look at the numbers, along with firsthand accounts from women and actors of color in the entertainment industry, it's hard to deny that Hollywood still has a lot of work to do. Thankfully, creative people like Melissa Silverstein (the genius behind this Taylor Swift parody) are committed to calling out Hollywood and encouraging them to do better.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Image by 5540867 from Pixabay

Figuring out what to do for a mom on Mother's Day can be a tricky thing. There's the standard flowers or candy, of course, and taking her out to a nice brunch is a fairly universal winner. But what do moms really want?

Speaking from experience—my kids range from age 12 to 20—a lot depends on the stage of motherhood. What I wanted when my kids were little is different than what I want now, and I'm sure when my kids are grown and gone I'll want something different again.

We asked our readers to share what they want for Mother's Day, and while the answers were varied, there were some common themes that emerged.

Moms of young kids want a break.

When your kids are little, motherhood is relentless. Precious and adorable, yes. Wonderful and rewarding, absolutely. But it's a LOT. And it's a lot all the fricking time.

Most moms I know would love the gift of alone time, either away at a hotel or Airbnb or in their own home with no one else around. Time alone is a priceless commodity at this stage, especially if it comes with someone else taking care of cleaning, making sure the kids are fed and safe and occupied, doing the laundry, etc.

This is especially true after more than a year of pandemic living, where we moms have spent more time than usual at home with our offspring. While in some ways that's been great, again, it's a lot.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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