+

Let's be real: Daenerys Targaryen is the best character on "Game of Thrones."

She's walked through fire. She's the mother of dragons. She inspires undying loyalty in others. And most of all: She's not afraid to take charge when she needs to. (Did I mention the dragons?)

A character who can literally call upon the power of scaly, fire-breathing helpers at any time ain't someone to mess with. Oh, and she's kind too!


[rebelmouse-image 19346470 dam="1" original_size="750x422" caption="Photo via "Game of Thrones"/HBO." expand=1]Photo via "Game of Thrones"/HBO.

Daenerys is a total BAMF — but don't call her a "strong female character."

She's much more than that. She's brave; she's honorable; she's venerated; she doesn't give up. And Emilia Clarke, the actor who plays her, wants everyone to stop viewing female characters in a "weak/strong" binary.

Speaking to Variety at Cannes, Clarke said that she's tired of being asked what it's like to play a "strong woman," calling the trope out as reductive and sexist. And you know what? She's absolutely right. Instead of telling reporters what it's like to play "a strong woman," Clarke's just going to tell you what it's like to play a woman.

"Take the 'strong' out of it. Find another adjective, dammit. I'm just playing women," Clarke said. "If it’s not strong, what is it? Are you telling me there’s another option, that there’s a weak option? You think a lead in a movie is going to be a weak woman?"

Clarke went on to point out that such questions aren't posed to male actors, whose characters' are thought of as strong regardless of whether they're toting rocket launchers through the tundra or fighting emotional demons. You'd find it weird if Netflix had a category for "Strong Male Leads," so why is the opposite OK?

Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images.

Clarke's right. And she's not alone.

The "strong female character" descriptor is being taken to task in Hollywood. After decades of being seen as a compliment, more and more actors, producers, and directors are making it clear that explicitly stating a female character is strong is making the assumption that other female characters, and women in general, somehow aren't.

In early 2018, Shonda Rhimes got real about the fact that "women are women." Stop with the compartmentalizing.

"There are no Dumb Weak Women," she wrote. "A smart strong woman is just a WOMAN. Also? 'Women' are not a TV trend — we're half the planet."

Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain quickly backed her up, pointing out that she's often told to go for "strong characters" when the reality is that Hollywood should be focused on "well written women" instead.

Clarke also has some ideas for better questions to ask.

"'What does it feel like to play someone with power?' or 'How does it feel to play a female lead in a big blockbuster movie?'" Clarke suggested. These types of questions are far more interesting anyway.

The questions asked in interviews affect the way women, and women characters are seen. Viewing women only in the context of "strong or weak" perpetuates the idea that these are the only ways to describe them. Reporters aren't the only ones who need to be more aware that female characters should be conceptualized outside their gender. We've got to do better.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

True

Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

Pop Culture

John Cena sets new world record with 650 wishes granted with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

He’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I'll drop everything."

The multitalented, mega famous John Cena might hold many titles, but this might be the coolest one yet—and it has nothing to do with wrestling.

The actor and WWE performer just broke the Guinness World Records for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. As of July 19, Guinness World Records reports, Cena has granted a whopping 650 wishes. The highest amount any other celebrity granted was 200.

The 16-time world champion first became a wish-granter back in 2002. Since then, he’s become the foundation’s most requested celebrity—and he never turns anyone down.

"I just drop everything. I don't care what I'm doing," he said in a WWE produced video after granting his 500th wish. “I can't say enough how cool it is to see the kids so happy, and their families so happy, I truly want to show them that it's their day.”
Keep ReadingShow less
via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

Keep ReadingShow less