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Education

Lessons we should have learned from the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps

It's been more than 75 years since the last prisoners were freed from Auschwitz. The farther we get from that chapter, the more important it is to focus on the lessons it taught us, lest we ignore the signs of history repeating itself.

Lessons we should have learned from the liberation of Auschwitz and other Nazi camps

From 1940 to 1945, an estimated 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, the largest complex of Nazi concentration camps. More than four out of five of those people—at least 1.1 million people—were murdered there.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the final prisoners from these camps—7,000 people, most of whom were sick or dying. Those of us with a decent public education are familiar with at least a few names of Nazi extermination facilities—Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen-Belsen—but these are merely a few of the thousands (yes, thousands) of concentration camps, sub camps, and ghettos spread across Europe where Jews and other targets of Hitler's regime were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the millions.


The scale of the atrocity is unfathomable. Like slavery, the Holocaust is a piece of history where the more you learn the more horrifying it becomes. The inhumane depravity of the perpetrators and the gut-wrenching suffering of the victims defies description. It almost becomes too much for the mind and heart to take in, but it's vital that we push through that resistance.

The liberation of the Nazi camps marked the end of Hitler's attempt at ethnic cleansing, and the beginning of humanity's awareness about how such a heinous chapter in human history took place. The farther we get from that chapter, the more important it is to focus on the lessons it taught us, lest we ignore the signs of history repeating itself.

Lesson 1: Unspeakable evil can be institutionalized on a massive scale

Perhaps the most jarring thing about the Holocaust is how systematized it was. We're not talking about humans slaying other humans in a fit of rage or a small number of twisted individuals torturing people in a basement someplace—this was a structured, calculated, disciplined, and meticulously planned and carried out effort to exterminate masses of people. The Nazi regime built a well-oiled killing machine the size of half a continent, and it worked exactly as intended. We often cite the number of people killed, but the number of people who partook in the systematic torture and destruction of millions of people is just as harrowing.

It has now come out that Allied forces knew about the mass killing of Jews as early as 1942—three years before the end of the war. And obviously, there were reports from individuals of what was happening from the very beginning. People often ask why more wasn't done earlier on if people knew, and there are undoubtedly political reasons for that. But we also have the benefit of hindsight in asking that question. I can imagine most people simply disbelieving what was actually taking place because it sounds so utterly unbelievable.

The lesson here is that we have to question our tendency to disbelieve things that sound too horrible to be true. We have evidence that the worst things imaginable on a scale that seems unfathomable are totally plausible.

Lesson 2: Atrocity can happen right under our noses as we go about our daily lives

One thing that struck me as I was reading about the liberation of Auschwitz is that it was a mere 37 miles from Krakow, one of the largest cities in Poland. This camp where an average of 500 people a day were killed, where bodies were piled up like corded wood, where men, women, and children were herded into gas chambers—and it was not that far from a major population center.

And that was just one set of camps. We now know that there were thousands of locations where the Nazis carried out their "final solution," and it's not like they always did it way out in the middle of nowhere. A New York Times report on how many more camps there were than scholars originally thought describes what was happening to Jews and marginalized people as the average person went about their daily lives:

"The documented camps include not only 'killing centers' but also thousands of forced labor camps, where prisoners manufactured war supplies; prisoner-of-war camps; sites euphemistically named 'care' centers, where pregnant women were forced to have abortions or their babies were killed after birth; and brothels, where women were coerced into having sex with German military personnel."

Whether or not the average person knew the full extent of what was happening is unclear. But surely there were reports. And we know how the average person responds to reports, even today in our own country.

How many news stories have we seen of abuses and inhumane conditions inside U.S. immigrant detention camps? What is our reaction when the United Nations human rights chief visits our detention facilities and comes away "appalled"? It's a natural tendency to assume things simply can't be that bad—that's undoubtedly what millions of Germans thought as well when stories leaked through the propaganda.

Lesson 3: Propaganda works incredibly well

Propaganda has always been a part of governance, as leaders try to sway the general populace to support whatever they are doing. But the Nazis perfected the art and science of propaganda, shamelessly playing on people's prejudices and fears and flooding the public with mountains of it.

Hermann Goering, one of Hitler's top political and military figures, explained in an interview late in his life that such manipulation of the masses isn't even that hard.

"The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders," he said. "That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

Terrifyingly true, isn't it? This is why we have to stay vigilant in the face of fear-mongering rhetoric coming from our leaders. When an entire religion or nationality or ethnic group is painted as "dangerous" or "criminal" or "terrorists," we have to recognize that we are being exposed to the same propaganda used to convince Germans that the Nazis were just trying to protect them. Safety and security are powerful human desires that make it easy to justify horrible acts.

Hitler was also great at playing the victim. While marching through Europe, conquering countries and rounding up millions of innocent people to exterminate, he claimed that Germany was the one under attack. Blatant anti-Semitic rhetoric surely fired up Hitler's core supporters, but the message to the average German was that this was all being done in the name of protecting the homeland, rather than a quest for a world-dominating master race.

Lesson 4: Most of us are in greater danger of committing a holocaust than being a victim of one

I had to pause when this realization hit me one day. As fairly average white American, I am in the majority in my country. And as strange as it is to say, that means I have more in common with the Germans who either committed heinous acts or capitulated to the Nazis than I do with the Jews and other targets of the Nazi party. That isn't to say that I would easily go along with mass genocide, but who's to say that I could fully resist the combination of systematic dehumanization, propaganda, and terrorism that led to the Holocaust? We all like to think we'd be the brave heroes hiding the Anne Franks of the world in our secret cupboards, but the truth is we don't really know what we would have done.

Check out what this Army Captain who helped liberate a Nazi camp said about his bafflement at what the Germans, "a cultured people" allowed to happen:

"I had studied German literature while an undergraduate at Harvard College. I knew about the culture of the German people and I could not, could not really believe that this was happening in this day and age; that in the twentieth century a cultured people like the Germans would undertake something like this. It was just beyond our imagination... Captain (Dr.) Philip Leif - 3rd Auxiliary Surgical Group, First Army

Some say that we can gauge what we would have done by examining what we're doing right now, and perhaps they are right. Are we speaking out against our government's cruel family separations that traumatize innocent children? Do we justify travel bans from entire countries because we trust that it's simply our leadership trying to keep us safe? Do we buy into the "Muslims are terrorists" and "undocumented immigrants are criminals" rhetoric?

While it's wise to be wary of comparing current events to the Holocaust, it's also wise to recognize that the Holocaust didn't start with gas chambers. It started with "othering," scapegoating, and fear-mongering. We have to be watchful not only for signs of atrocity, but for the signs leading up to it.

Lesson 5: Teaching full and accurate history matters

There are people who deny that the Holocaust even happened, which is mind-boggling. But there are far more people who are ignorant to the true horrors of it. Reading first-hand accounts of both the people who survived the camps and those who liberated them is perhaps the best way to begin to grasp the scope of what happened.

One small example is Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower's attempt to describe what he saw when he visited Ohrdruf, a sub-camp of Buchenwald:

"The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to 'propaganda.'"

And of course, the most important narratives to read and try to digest are the accounts of those who survived the camps. Today, 200 survivors of Auschwitz gathered to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its liberation. They warned about the rise in anti-Semitism in the world and how we must not let prejudice and hatred fester. Imagine having to make such a warning seven decades after watching family and friends being slaughtered in front of you.

Let's use this anniversary as an opportunity to dive deeper into what circumstances and environment enabled millions of people to be killed by one country's leadership. Let's learn the lessons the Holocaust has to teach us about human nature and our place in the creation of history. And let's make darn sure we do everything in our power to fend off the forces that threaten to lead us down a similarly perilous path.


This article originally appeared on 01.27.20

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.


The volunteer slowly entered the kennel with the terrified dog, crouching on his knees for an easy escape if needed. But the dog attempted to essentially become invisible by avoiding eye contact and staying curled in a tiny ball. It seemed like it was going to take a long time for this nervous pup to warm up.

Before long, he's offered a treat. Success! The brown dog takes the treat, and as minutes pass you can see his body slowly relax, eventually coming to sit directly next to Kanaka for pets. In the few minutes of the video, you see such an amazing transformation that proves this little guy just needed some love.

"It was so cute when he started wagging his tail. You could tell his whole demeanor just changed, and he was happy. Just a few kind words and a little attention. That’s all animals need. Well, besides food. Lol," one commenter says.

"That moment when he starts to realize he's actually safe. That gradual tail wag, and the ears perking, the eyes lighting up. You don't have to be an expert to show an animal love and respect," another writes.

"After that first treat his entire demeanor changed. He went from not trusting you to thinking you may be kind and he could feel less stressed. That was really amazing to see," someone gushes.

This sweet scared dog just needed human connection by someone taking the time to sit with him to know he was safe. Once he was sure the shelter was a safe place, the dog even welcomed those who came to visit him after seeing the video.

"I went to the shelter today to visit 'Bear'! Everyone would be thrilled to hear that he seems very happy and energetic! He has a little red squeaky bone toy that he loves. He licked my hand immediately and rubbed his head on my legs and arms, eager for affection. What a sweetheart," a commenter writes.

Thanks to Kanaka's sweet gesture, the dog, now named Shadow Moon, was adopted and is now living his best life with his new human dad and husky brother. You can follow Shadow Moon's journey on his Instagram page.


This article originally appeared on 12.1.23

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Health

Neuroscience learns what Buddhism has known for ages: There is no constant self

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it.

Ven. Thich Thong Hai prays by a statue of Buddha in the garden at the Ventura Buddhist Center.

Proving that science and religion can, in fact, overlap, University of British Columbia researcher Evan Thompson has confirmed the Buddhist teaching of the not-self, or "anatta," is more than just a theory.

"Buddhists argue that nothing is constant, everything changes through time, you have a constantly changing stream of consciousness," he tells Quartz. "And from a neuroscience perspective, the brain and body is constantly in flux. There's nothing that corresponds to the sense that there's an unchanging self."


This reality that nothing stays the same should be liberating, because if people believe it, they'll no longer define themselves by their thoughts or be limited by a fixed idea of who they are. Their possibilities will be endless.

Buddhist Monks have known for thousands of years what science is just now learning: the mind can be changed by training it. Neuroplasticity, as it's called, endows people with the ability to grow and evolve, triumphing over bad habits and becoming more like the individuals they want to be.

Buddha, religion, self awareness, evolution, enlightenment

Buddha GIF

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Still, exactly how consciousness relates to the brain eludes both Buddhism and neuroscience. Buddhists suppose there's an iteration of consciousness that doesn't require a physical body; neuroscientists disagree.

"In neuroscience, you'll often come across people who say the self is an illusion created by the brain," Thompson says. "My view is that the brain and the body work together in the context of our physical environment to create a sense of self. And it's misguided to say that just because it's a construction, it's an illusion."


This article originally appeared on 09.23.17

Science

Americans see gardening changes as 'plant hardiness zones' shift across half the U.S.

Here's a quick tool to find out if your zone has changed due to warmer temperatures.

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, Map by USDA-ARS and Oregon State University (Public Domain)

The USDA has issued a new Plant Hardiness Zone Map

Millions of American households have a garden of some sort, whether they grow vegetables, fruits flowers or other plants. Gardening has always been a popular hobby, but more Americans turned to tending plants during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic for both stress relief and to grow their own food so they could make less trips to the store. For many people, it's a seasonal ritual that's therapeutic and rewarding.

But a shift is occurring in the gardening world. Now, due to rising temperature data, half the country find themselves in a different "plant hardiness zone"—the zones that indicate what plants work well in an area and when to plant them. Gardeners rely on knowing their hardiness zone to determine what to plant and when, but they haven't been updated since 2012.


The U.S. Department of Agriculture updated its Plant Hardiness Zone Map in late 2023, months before people in most of the country start planning their planting. We saw the 10 hottest summers ever recorded in 174 years of climate data between 2014 and 2023, but hardiness zones are actually determined by the coldest winter temperatures each year. Winters are warming at an even faster pace than summers, according to nonpartisan research and communications group Climate Central, but that may or may not be the entire reason behind the zone changes.

The USDA acknowledges that some of the zone shifts could be due to climate change but cautions against using them as hard evidence for it since factors such as improved data collection also contribute to changes in the map.

people planting flowers

Gardening can be a solo or community endeavor.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

"Temperature updates to plant hardiness zones are not necessarily reflective of global climate change because of the highly variable nature of the extreme minimum temperature of the year, as well as the use of increasingly sophisticated mapping methods and the inclusion of data from more weather stations," the USDA wrote in November 2023. "Consequently, map developers involved in the project cautioned against attributing temperature updates made to some zones as reliable and accurate indicators of global climate change (which is usually based on trends in overall average temperatures recorded over long time periods)."

At the same time, Chris Daly, director of the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University that developed the map with the USDA, told NPR, "Over the long run, we will expect to see a slow shifting northward of zones as climate change takes hold."

As an example of zone shifting, Dallas, Texas, was classified as Zone 8a in 2012, when data showed the coldest winter temperature in the city was between 10 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit on average. In 2023, with data showing the coldest winter temps falling between 15 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit, it's been shifted to Zone 8b.

Some zone shifts resulted in moving to an entirely new zone number, such as Seattle shifting from Zone 8b to Zone 9a. The overall trend was for zones to be pushed northward, but not all areas saw a shift. NPR has a helpful tool here in which you can enter your zip code, see what zone your city was previously in, what zone it's in now, and the temperature changes that caused the shift.

The bottom line is if you have a gardening book with a hardiness zones map printed before 2024, it's time for an updated map. Or check online to see what zone you fall in now to give your garden the best chance of thriving this year.


Categories are great for some things: biology, herbs, and spices, for example.

Image via

But bodies? Well, putting bodies into categories just gets weird. There are around 300 million people in America, but only 12 or so standard sizes for clothing: extra-extra-small through 5x.


That's why designer Mallorie Dunn is onto something with her belief — people have different bodies and sizing isn't catching up.

Dunn has found that the majority of clothing sizes stop at an extra-large, yet the majority of women in America are over that. "And that just doesn't make sense," she says.

All images via Smart Glamor, used with permission.

Human spice rack, only, a LOT more variations of flava. ;)



That's why she started a project around her clothing label, Smart Glamour, to document the bodies of models according to their sizes — and to show how one size can look very different on different bodies.

In pursuit of creating a fashion environment that's kinder to all bodies, Dunn has dedicated herself to educating consumers about sizing.

First, she found 60 people of 12 different sizes and took their pictures.

Then, she put five women at a time in the same size of skirt and shirt to show how diversely beautiful human bodies are and to prove that everyone looks different in clothes no matter what size they have on.

She hoped to show people that 12 sizes don't even come close to capturing the beauty of the human form.

All these models are wearing the same size ... but do they look the same?

"No matter what size you are that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty."

"I had a convo with a friend of mine who was like 'Yeah, if I went from a medium to a large, I'd be fine with it, but if I went from a large to an extra-large, that wouldn't be OK' and I was like, 'Why???' And she had no rational reason behind that," Dunn said, describing a conversation we've all either had, started, or heard. "We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

Dunn's project also shows just how arbitrary and narrow-minded clothing sizes are.

Sizes really are just numbers.

Unlike the images we are presented both in clothing ads and in entertainment and media, human beings aren't, as Dunn remarked, "robots who come out on a conveyor belt ... we're all shaped differently."

The pressure to look one way is obnoxious. And kinda dangerous.

"We've been taught forever that the bigger something sounds, the worse that it is."

There's so much weight — no pun intended — on being the "right" size.

"You put an 'extra' on top of a 'large,' and suddenly it's the end of the world," Dunn said of her experience in fashion sizing. "... And it really doesn't mean anything, it really only means that there's an extra inch of fabric."

One extra inch of fabric.

3 in 4 girls report feeling depressed, guilty, or shameful after just three minutes of leafing through a fashion mag.

But I'd like to imagine a world where everyone can try on clothes and leave the emotional burden of worrying about fit to the clothes.

Instead, let's focus on what looks good on our bodies. Let the clothes handle the emotional roller coaster of not fitting, and you just live your life in the body you've been given.

Dunn, who has worked for fashion houses for her whole career, puts it bluntly: "Clothes are not made for all bodies. ... We shouldn't then think when something doesn't fit us that it's somehow our fault."

Dunn's models also have a group on Facebook where they support each other, compliment each other, and generally lift each other up. Model Stephanie describes it this way: "We see the beauty in one another and help each other to recognize our own beauty at the same time." Fashion leading to body optimism and confidence? Yes, please.

And Dunn herself drives a hard line when it comes to feeling good in the skin you've been given. Her philosophy is this: No matter what size you are, that's not what dictates your worth or your beauty.

Self-worth not based on appearances. That's a category we can all aspire to "fit" into!


This article originally appeared on 07.27.16

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

Because you're a girl.

I was promoted a few weeks ago, which was great. I got a lot of nice notes from friends, family, customers, partners, and random strangers, which was exciting.

But it wasn't long until a note came in saying, “Everyone knows you got the position because you're a girl." In spite of having a great week at a great company with great people whom I love, that still stung, because it's not the first time I've heard it.


Every woman who works in tech — heck, likely every woman on Earth — hears “because you're a girl" dozens, if not thousands, of times in her life.

It starts young, of course:

Why can't I join that team? Because you're a girl.

Why can't I study physics? Because you're a girl.

Then, the comments age with you.

Why can't I manage that project? Because you're a girl.

Why can't I join that group? Because you're a girl.

And after you've reached any level of attainment in a profession you love, the comments are used to minimize your success.

Why did you get that award? Because you're a girl.

Why were you chosen to participate in that class? Because you're a girl.

Like so many women before me, I have shaken off the comment.

I've gotten angry. I've gotten sad. I've doubted myself and my abilities. I've ignored it entirely. I've challenged it. I've recruited support from men and women I respect. Yet every time it stays there in the back of my mind, screaming for attention after every failure or setback.

But today is the day I've decided to change that.

I did, in fact, get the job because I'm a girl.

A girl who was called "bossy" growing up.

A girl who wasn't afraid to play with the boys.

A girl who didn't hesitate to raise her hand if she knew the answer.

A girl who stood up for other kids.

A girl who was always the first one to volleyball practice and the last to leave.

A girl who was told she was too assertive and aggressive to advance in her career.

A girl who went to MIT anyway.

A girl who asked her company to do more on diversity and inclusion and won't stop pushing until it's truly remarkable.

A girl who has made big mistakes, both personal and professional.

A girl who swings for the fences even when no one is watching.

A girl who puts in hours when other people are asleep

A girl who tells young girls how smart and strong they are.

A girl who hates to lose.

And a girl who won't stand silently while people still use “because you're a girl" as any limitation for girls who want to grow, challenge the status quo, and be something, anything, greater than society tells them they could or should.

So yeah. I guess you could say I got my job because I'm a girl, but not for any of the reasons you might think.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.


This article originally appeared on 04.14.17