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Christina Aguilera took off her makeup, and the transformation was powerful.

Most everybody knows what Christina Aguilera looks like.

The singer has never shied away from big looks. (Did you see her on the season 10 premiere of "RuPaul's Drag Race"?)

But there's a side you probably haven't seen of Aguilera no matter how long you've been a fan (and her career has spanned over two decades).

In the March issue of Paper magazine — with the theme of transformations — Aguilera went "Back to Basics" and "Stripped" off her makeup for the cover. No heavy lipstick or eyeliner here. Instead, the singer, who's known for her constant reinvention, opted for a dewy, natural look that's gorgeous but almost unrecognizable.

Who knew that Christina Aguilera had freckles? Certainly not the internet, which quickly exploded with support for Aguilera's cover.

But don't let the awe Aguilera's photo inspired get in the way of her message.

While the singer doesn't want us to "get it twisted" about her loving a "beat face" — she appears in avant-garde makeup throughout the rest of her Paper photoshoot and makes it clear that makeup/no makeup isn't a debate but a valid, personal choice. She told reporter Marie Lodi that appearing sans her signature dramatic look is liberating for her. Especially at a time in her career where she's poised to reinvent herself once more.

"I've always been someone that obviously loves to experiment, loves theatrics, loves to create a storyline and play a character in a video or through stage," Aguilera told Paper. "I'm a performer, that's who I am by nature. But I'm at the place, even musically, where it's a liberating feeling to be able to strip it all back and appreciate who you are and your raw beauty."

Raw beauty, of course, can be a loaded term.

Makeup is a form of artistic expression and everyone should feel confident doing what feels best for their style and body. But Aguilera's use of the word "liberation" is an allusion to the pressure that's placed on women to look "picture perfect" all the time.

It's a message that's been echoed by many other pop stars. Demi Lovato, for example, first bared herself in 2015, when she posed nude and un-retouched for Vanity Fair to promote body positivity and loving the skin we're in. More recently, in March 2018, Lovato shot a video for Vogue where she removed everything, from her makeup to her extensions, to show exactly what it takes to get her "performance ready."

"I think society tells us we need makeovers, but why can't we embrace the beauty that we naturally have?" Lovato said of her make-under. "I love makeup. I love doing my hair; I have extensions, but there's a time and a place for everything, and natural beauty needs to be celebrated."

Aguilera has no illusions about the entertainment industry and its double standards. "Either women are not sexual enough or we're not fulfilling enough of a fantasy," she told Paper, "but then if we're overtly sexual or feeling empowered in a certain kind of way, then we're shamed for it."

She's optimistic, however, about the future, saying that the criticism she's received for taking risks has allowed others to push the envelope further. "Madonna had to go through it in her day, and she paved the way for my generation to come up," Aguilera said. "And paying it forward, now a younger generation is coming up and I'm loving what I'm seeing. It's so incredible."

Empowering words. And an important reminder that we should always be ourselves. Let Aguilera inspire you to show off your "raw beauty" — whatever its form may be — every day.

Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

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Casette tapes, film cameras and landlines were a big part of the pre-2000 world.

There have been a few momentous changes since the dawn of the new millennium, creating an invisible line between those born before and after. The big events that forever changed culture are the creation of the smartphone, dawn of social media and terror attacks on 9/11.

People who were born in 1999 or later have, for the most part, lived in a world where they were either too young to know what life was like before these events or weren’t born yet.

That’s not to say that one era is better or worse. But, when an entire generation has no idea what it is like to go through a day without being connected to the internet, we’re bound to eventually lose any understanding of living IRL 24/7.

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Pop Culture

Man tries to correct a female golfer's swing, having no idea she's actually a pro

“My hope is that he comes across this video and it keeps him up at night."

Representative Image from Canva

A man tried to tell a pro golfer she was swing too slow.

We’re all probably familiar with the term “mansplaining,” when a man explains something to a woman in a condescending or patronizing way. Often, this comes in the form of a man explaining a subject to a woman that she already knows on an expert level. The female neuroscientist who was told by a man that she should read a research paper she actually wrote comes to mind.

Recently the next-level mansplaining was caught in the wild. Well, at a golf driving range anyway.

Georgia Ball, a professional golfer and coach who’s racked up over 3 million likes on TikTok for all her tips and tricks of the sport, was minding her own business while practicing a swing change.

It takes all of two seconds on Google to see that when it comes to incorporating a swing change, golfers need to swing slower, at 50-75% their normal speed…which is what Ball was doing.

And this is what prompted some man to insert his “advice.”

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Photo by Lisa Therese on Unsplash

The word "jumbo" literally comes from an elephant.

The evolution of language is fascinating, and the etymology of specific words can be a fun little trip through human history as well as human creativity.

Many English words are derived from Greek and Latin, but other European languages make up a good chunk of our language as well. The roots of some words can surprise us, and so can the way certain words came to be. And in some cases, what we don't know can be just as surprising as what we do.

Enjoy diving into the history of 15 words we use every day.

1. Dog

Dog is often one of the first words babies learn to say, and it's one of the first kids learn to spell. But don't let its simplicity fool you. This word is truly a mystery.

The word "dog" comes from dogca, a very rarely used Old English word, but how we started using it as our everyday name for canines, no one knows. "Its origin remains one of the great mysteries of English etymology," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

Even more interestingly, no one knows the origins of the Spanish word for "dog" ("perro"), nor do they know the origins of the Polish ("pies") or Serbo-Croatian ("pas") words for our canine friends, either. Who knew dogs were so enigmatic?

2. Nightmare

It's obvious where "night" comes from in "nightmare," but what about "mare"? Surely, were not referring to a female horse here.

Horse, no. But female, yes. Female goblin, to be precise. In Old English, mare means "incubus, nightmare, monster; witch, sorcerer." And "nightmare" started being used around 1300 to refer to "an evil female spirit afflicting men (or horses) in their sleep with a feeling of suffocation." Yikes. Thankfully, now it's just any old bad dream.

3. Jumbo

We've all seen animals named for words with certain meanings, but here we have the opposite. The word "jumbo" came from a large elephant who lived at the London Zoo. Zookeeper Anoshan Anathjeysari named him "Jumbe," the Swahili word for "chief." But his status as one of the largest African bush elephants in Europe in the 19th century caused his nickname, Jumbo, to become synonymous with enormousness.

muscular man exercising

Run, little mouse, run.

Photo by Anastase Maragos on Unsplash

4. Muscle

The Latin word musculus means "little mouse." As hilarious as it sounds, they thought the movement of muscles looked like little mice scurrying under the skin, hence the origin. Kinda ick to think about, but also logical, so here we are.

5. Quarantine

Ah, a word with which we are all familiar, thanks to COVID-19. But do we know what it really means?

If you understand roots, you may guess that "quar" might have something to do with the number four, and you'd be right. In Latin, quadraginta means a period of 40 days. Our usage of "quarantine" to mean isolation from others comes from the Venetian policy of ships coming into port from plague-stricken countries in the late 1300s to remain in port for 40 days before letting people off. The usage to mean any period of time in isolation began being used in the 1600s.

6. Mortgage

Most of us grow up not really understanding what a mortgage is until we buy our first house, but even then, most of us don't know what the word literally means. It comes from Old French, mort gaige, literally meaning "death pledge."

HAHAHAHAHA. Death pledge. Mortgage. That's funny.

However, it doesn't mean you're tied to the debt til you die, even if it feels like it. The death part means the deal dies either when you pay it off or when you become unable to pay. Doesn't really change the fact that it feels a bit like you're signing your life away when you buy a house, though.

ball of yarn

What does a ball of yarn have to do with "clue"?

Photo by Philip Estrada on Unsplash

7. Clue

Oddly enough, "clue" comes from a misspelling (or alternate spelling from before standardized spelling was a thing) of the word "clew," meaning a ball of yarn.

The word itself comes from German, but its usage points to the Greek myth in which Ariadne gives Theseus a ball (or clew) of yarn to help him escape the labyrinth. Now we use it to refer to anything that helps us solve a mystery.

8. Nice

The word "nice" is nice and simple, right? It's the most basic word we use for "pleasant," a definitively positive word. But this seemingly simple word has been through quite the trek in its etymology.

From the Latin nescius, meaning "ignorant, unaware," it was used to mean "timid" or"faint-hearted" before the year 1300. A couple hundred years later, it had morphed to "fussy, fastidious" or "dainty, delicate." In another 100 years, it changed to "precise, careful." Tack on another few hundred years and we're at "agreeable, delightful," and from there it was only short jaunt to "kind, thoughtful."

What a nice journey from insult to compliment.

9. Shampoo

I would have bet money that the word "shampoo" was French in origin, but nope. It's Hindi, coming from the term champo, and the original meaning was "to massage, rub and percuss the surface of (the body) to restore tone and vigor." It's only been used to refer specifically to lathering and washing out strands of hair or carpet since the mid 1800s.

10. Torpedo

Literally Latin for a stingray. As in the marine animal. That comes from the root word torpere, which means "be numb," since a ray's sting can numb you. It doesn't become the word for a propelled underwater explosive until the last couple hundred years.

11. Ambidextrous

We know that left-handedness was seen negatively throughout much of human history, but even the word that means "able to use both hands equally" has a right-handed bias baked into it. The medieval Latin ambidexter literally meansliterally means "right-handed on both sides."

Isn't English fun?


Family

Mom causes a stir after saying she won't be doing yearly birthday parties for her kid

“I just don't want a bunch of people sitting around at my house all day...”

Representative Image from Canva

Are birthday parties every year required for kids?

Parents want to do right by their kids. Make them feel special, let them have fun and give them opportunities to enjoy magic before adulthood sets in. And yet, that desire can easily be suppressed by the need to keep up with the lavish events constantly seen on social media.

For many families, over-the-top activities are simply not feasible—especially ones that come year after year like birthdays. So many are going against societal expectations and instead choosing traditions that work for their unique situation. Opting for experiences over expensive gifts, for example, or having one-on-one family time instead of parties with friends.

For Marissa Light, it looks a little more like not even doing a birthday party every year.
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Science

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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