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How we celebrate Thanksgiving, as told by 12 absurd stock photos.

Haven't you heard? It's Thanksgiving stock photo season.

It's November. And, in America, of course that means ... Thanksgiving.

All photos via iStock.


And if anything perfectly illustrates America's love for turkey, family, and people with super white teeth, it's Thanksgiving stock photos.

But there is one issue I have with Thanksgiving stock photos.

Like a lot of stock imagery, they're not always an accurate reflection of reality. Nor do they always ... make sense.

Like this woman, who appears to be napping on a pumpkin.

Has anyone ever napped on a pumpkin to commemorate Thanksgiving? Has anyone ever napped on a pumpkin period? Did I miss something in class about pilgrims napping on pumpkins?

In honor of Turkey Day, I skimmed through an array of stock photos to report what they get right — and what they get wrong — when it comes to Thanksgiving.

Just so you wouldn't have to. (You're welcome.)

Let's get started.

1. The "Angry Man with Knife vs. Innocent Turkey" Photo

What it gets right: Cooking and carving a Thanksgiving turkey can be a taxing responsibility — especially when your entire family is expecting the best meal ever. (Here are some tips to get the job done.)

What it gets wrong: Cooking and carving a Thanksgiving turkey is never so taxing that you need to murder the bird again. (If this is you, put the knife down and walk away.)

2. The "Family Sitting Way Too Close to One Another" Photo

What it gets right: Assuming you don't live in a mansion, sure, it can be a big task to find comfortable seating for every aunt, uncle, and grandparent this side of the Mississippi. If you're feeling overwhelmed, there are helpful ways to find the perfect spot for everyone to enjoy the grub and conversation.

What it gets wrong: Families probably won't double up in their seats when, clearly, the whole other end of the table is empty.

However, if the whole other end of your table is empty, consider inviting people in need to share your meal. It might sound like an awkward scenario, but there must be a rewarding reason why plenty of people and groups — including Humans of New York — do it for the holidays each year.

3. The "First Thanksgiving Reenactment" Photo

What it gets right: Yes, historians are confident pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians feasted together at some point in 1621. Hooray!

What it gets wrong: This classic throwback implies the first Thanksgiving was just the start of a blossoming BFF relationship between colonists and Native Americans. Of course, that is offensively wack. Not to mention, these outfits are less than historically accurate.

And while we're on the topics of pilgrims and outfits...

4. The "Prototype Pilgrim" Photo

What it gets right: Pilgrims were, in fact, humans. (One point for Gryffindor!)

What it gets wrong: They did not wear those simple black and white get-ups you see on everything. The colonists actually wore an assortment of colors — just like we do today (except with maybe fewer band logo T-shirts). And as far as those buckles on their shoes? Nope — wasn't a thing. I'm not sure how that became a trend, but let it be known the pilgrims' shoes were buckle-free.

It should also be noted that Native Americans are frequently depicted wearing absurd (not to mention offensive) clothing nowadays — especially around Thanksgiving. That "First Thanksgiving Reenactment" photo above? Yeah, pretty sure the Wampanoag Indians didn't wear khakis.

5. The "Cats Apparently Love Gourds" Photos

Oh, you didn't know that's a thing? It's definitely a thing.

What it gets right: We'll find any excuse to take pictures of our cats. This is a fact. And hey, if becoming a crazy cat lady/man makes you happier and healthier, you certainly shouldn't feel badly about it.

What it gets wrong: Nothing could have less to do with Thanksgiving than cats. (Maybe ... NASA? I don't know.)

6. The "Turkey Inception" Photo

What it gets right: Speaking of cats ... we'll also find any excuse to take pictures of our food — even if it means taking a picture of someone else taking a picture of their turkey. And that's OK! Capturing memories (of delicious food or otherwise) is a great way to remember the holidays for years to come. So take that camera phone out, snap away, and don't apologize for it.

What it gets wrong: Where are the filter options? It's 2015. An Instagram filter is mandatory when it comes to sharing pics of your turkey dinner because — let's be honest — dining rooms don't always have the perfect amount of natural light.

7. The "Smile and Stare Maniacally at the Turkey" Photo

What it gets right: We all do this. We stare at the turkey, salivating, as our mom/aunt/dad/cousin brings the bird to the table...

...except for this kid.

No one knows what he's looking at. (And it's probably for the best.)

If the facts don't lie (they typically don't), Americans love their Thanksgiving turkeys. Like, love it enough to go out and buy 40-something million birds every year to feast on for the special day. So it's safe to say the maniacal stares above are completely accurate.

What it gets wrong: Let's face it — far too many turkey stock photos, this one especially, look waaay too perfectly golden brown to be relatable. It's probably plastic.

And yes, plastic might be better for the turkeys than free-range (as no actual turkeys are harmed in the making of a plastic turkey), but if you can afford it and don't like eating plastic turkey, consider opting for a free-range turkey this year. Learn the facts and decide if free-range is right for your family here.

8. The "I Overate and Now I'm About to Vomit" Photo

What it gets right: Americans may have big appetites, but — believe it or not — Thanksgiving still produces tons of food waste. In 2013, about 204 million pounds of turkey (including that leg above, I'm guessing) was thrown away over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. But it doesn't have to be like this! There are plenty of ways you can both curb food waste and help feed those in need this Turkey Day.

What it gets wrong: There's no way that plate would be that clean. Does anyone believe someone would take out a fresh plate only to serve one turkey leg to the man who's already passed out in a Thanksgiving food coma on the couch? I didn't think so.

9. The "Random Pumpkin" Photo

What it gets right: Like cats and snapping food pics, once October hits, we are obsessed with pumpkins and pumpkin-flavored anything. Seriously — obsessed! So it makes sense that a pumpkin is the star of just about every Thanksgiving photo we take.

What it gets wrong: Pumpkins don't usually chill out on sandy beaches or hang with a bunch of cold, hard cash (like ... what?). It's all about the context, people.

10. The "Is This What the Pilgrims Ate?" Photo

What it gets right: Pumpkin was a food available to the pilgrims, and it very well could have been at the first Thanksgiving.

What it gets wrong: BUT. At Thanksgiving numero uno, it certainly wasn't in the deliciously smooth, perfect pie form synonymous with modern Thanksgiving. As Alton Brown demonstrated in an episode of "Good Eats," if they did feast on pumpkin, it probably would have been more of a soup than a pie.

Come to think of it, many of the foods associated with Thanksgiving today weren't at the first feast way back when (or, if they were, they took drastically different forms). Turkey? That's a big maybe — historians believe seafood would have been more prevalent on the table. And potatoes? Meh, not so much. Pilgrims didn't even know they were a thing.

11. The "Jealous Dog" Photo

What it gets right: Dogs will sit there and stare with jealousy until every last ounce of that turkey is gone.

What it gets wrong: Actually ... most dog lovers will back me up here: This one pretty much nails it. Dogs are the biggest losers on Thanksgiving, the poor things. (Remember: Even though it's tempting to cave in while they beg near the table, don't! Lots of traditional Thanksgiving foods can be harmful — and even deadly — to your pet.)

And last, but definitely not least...

12. The totally necessary "Flashdance Turkey" Photo

Yes, as in, a photo featuring a turkey in that iconic scene from the movie "Flashdance."

One Flashdance turkey not enough for you? Here's another:

What it gets right: We try very hard to keep our turkeys moist (here are a few pointers to do it). At least ... I think that's what this super handy, relevant, and totally necessary stock photo is going for.

What it gets wrong: Everything. I really wish I hadn't ever seen these photos.

There you have it. Do you feel like a Thanksgiving stock photo expert?

Because you should.

Now you have all the tools to navigate November's endless newsfeed of Thanksgiving stock photos with the comfort of knowing not every pic gets every detail right about the holiday.

And that comfort is certainly something to be thankful for.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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