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How a sisterhood of badass women is redefining what it means to be a female athlete.

After her spine and spirit were shattered, Meghan Sekone-Fraser found redemption through a sisterhood of badass women.

How a sisterhood of badass women is redefining what it means to be a female athlete.
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Paramount Pictures Ben Hur

When Meghan Sekone-Fraser's back was shattered in a car accident, her Olympic dreams shattered as well.

Meghan Sekone-Fraser was well on her way to becoming an Olympic rower. She admits she wasn't as tall or naturally powerful as her teammates, but she kept pushing forward and gained exceptional results.

Unfortunately, those exceptional results came at an exceptional price.


Meghan Sekone-Fraser had to reevaluate her life after enduring a devastating accident. Photo from Meghan Sekone-Fraser, used with permission.

"I struggled with overtraining, injury, body image issues, and eating disorders for the entire span of my 10-year rowing career," Sekone-Fraser told Upworthy. "But I was so focused on my goals that I didn’t see the damage being done."

Then, in 2011, her dreams of reaching the London Olympics came crashing down when a car accident severely injured her back. She was in constant emotional and physical pain.

She was afraid she had lost everything.

So Sekone-Fraser changed her course. But she wasn't pleased with what she saw on her path.

Being an Olympic rower wasn't in the cards for Sekone-Fraser, but she wasn't ready to give up on her passion for athletics.

After months of searching, she discovered muay thai as a way to exercise and still exert her toughness.

Muay thai was a great release for Sekone-Fraser after her accident, but it wasn't all good. Photo from Ashley Kress Photography, used with permission.

But there was a problem.

"When I looked into the sea of women's activewear brands, I couldn't help but notice that I am not represented by the current brands and they did not want to be represented by me," she said. "I'm not a yogi, I don't meditate, I don't like green smoothies, and I am definitely not a size four."

She wasn't interested in brands telling her what kind of lifestyle — or body type — she should be striving for. She was looking for something that said, "Right now, in this very moment, you are powerful. You are a fighter."

And just like in her rowing days, she felt she would never fit in — until her husband stumbled upon Society Nine, an apparel company that focuses on women in combat sports.

Once he found Society Nine, Sekone-Fraser instantly knew this was the answer she was looking for. And not just because of the clothes.

"When I saw their manifesto video, I cried," she said. "After seeing images of women of all shapes, sizes, and colors kicking ass, I saw myself in the brand and knew that Society Nine had the ability to really make an impact and shift the way women view themselves."

It meant there were other women like her. Women like Maria Khwaja, a Muslim-American woman battling intolerance. Women like Mildred Apenyo, who fights for women's right to enjoy to their own space without being catcalled or harassed by men.

Powerful women who weren't backing down from major obstacles.

Meet a few of the diverse women of Society Nine. Photo from Society Nine, used with permission.

This kind of message isn't just one brand. It's a movement, with other companies like Machina Boxing and Kali Active getting onboard, too.

Lynn Le, the founder of Society Nine, thinks it's a good thing.

"Women have been told by society to bite our tongues, dress appropriately, look good in a bikini, be an amazing cook, have killer careers, and be amazing daughters and wives," she said. "We fight because we had to fight against the tide of expectations forever. It's time for women to define power on our own terms."

Lynn Le is very passionate about her mission. Photo from Society Nine, used with permission.

Sekone-Fraser fights, still, to repair her fractured relationship with her body. Being part of a new generation of warrior women is just the ammo she needs.

"As a rower, my abilities were defined by what I saw in the mirror," Sekone-Fraser said. "In this new chapter of my life, what I saw in the mirror was defined by my abilities. That shift in my mind was one of the most empowering things that's ever happened in my life."

Sekone-Fraser (seen here with her husband) is all smiles now that she's true to who she is. Photo from Ashley Kress Photography, used with permission.

"It took me 30 years to begin disrupting my internal dialogue of self-doubt and negativity," she admits. "That's a long time to not embrace yourself."

Loving ourselves is something we should fight for every single day.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
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With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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