'Seriously?' Wonder Woman actor helps put her character's U.N. controversy in perspective.

The United Nations recently fired Wonder Woman from her ambassador post, forcing her to fight back with valiance and diplomacy.

No, I'm not pitching you a comic book right now. This is real.

Wonder Woman through the ages. Photo by Matt Cowan/Getty Images.


The U.N. appointed the iconic superhero as its honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls back in October 2016. It's not the first time the U.N. has appointed a fictional character to an ambassadorship, either. They've given jobs to Winnie the Pooh, Tinkerbell, and Red from Angry Birds.

This time, however, things were a little different.

Wonder Woman's appointment to the U.N. was quickly met with controversy.

It began with an online petition started by U.N. staffers urging the council to reconsider its choice (emphasis added):

"Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent 'warrior' woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a 'pin-up' girl. This is the character that the United Nations has decided to represent a globally important issue – that of gender equality and empowerment of women and girls."

I hope she's not going anywhere chilly. Photo by Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images.

Those might seem like fair points, sure. In a world where there is an abundance of (real) feminist role models who don't professionally wear costumes designed for the male gaze and who didn't get their start in sexualized and submissive comic book stories, it's easy to see why the 44,000 people who signed the U.N. petition thought there might be a better choice.

Ultimately, the U.N. dropped Wonder Woman from her post.

If this sounds familiar, that might be because it's eerily similar to a plot line from an episode of the early '00s "Justice League" animated TV series.

Facepalm. GIF via "Justice League."

But reducing Wonder Woman to her costume reinforces the idea that a woman's value comes from her appearance — and that what a woman has to say doesn't matter if she doesn't look the way we feel she should.

Of course, when the U.N. decided to revoke the character's ambassadorship (which Jeffrey Brez, the U.N.’s chief of NGO relations and advocacy, told The Guardian was the plan all along), the Amazonian superhero had supporters in her corner to defend her.

Among them, of course, are DC Entertainment, which owns the Wonder Woman franchise, and actress Gal Gadot, who played Wonder Woman in "Batman v Superman" and the upcoming solo "Wonder Woman" film.

Gal Gadot (left) speaking at the U.N. along with Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s "Wonder Woman" TV show. Photo by Timothy Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

In a Time profile, the Israeli actor responded to the U.N.'s decision, lamenting that people would be so focused on what a fictional woman appointed to an honorary position is wearing when there are more pressing issues affecting women and girls.

“There are so many horrible things that are going on in the world," Gadot told Time. "And this is what you’re protesting, seriously?”

Gadot also noted that just because Wonder Woman is "sexy," that doesn't mean she can't also be smart, strong, and a good role model. "That’s not fair," said Gadot. "Why can’t she be all of the above?

GIF from "Justice League."

And what has Wonder Woman been saying?

Oh, you know, just some casual feminist critique of the way rigid gender roles hurt girls (from the 2009 animated "Wonder Woman" movie):

Images from "Wonder Woman."

And this wonderful moment from the recent "Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1" comic, in which she is the very embodiment of empowering, encouraging a young girl to put her heart and wisdom to good use — and to be her own kind of superhero.

Images from "Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1"/DC Entertainment.

Not to mention the times Wonder Woman stood up for nonviolent diplomacy in the "Spirit of Truth" comic book, confronted a man who was using sexist slurs in "Justice League: War," and put a guy who tried to get her drunk on a date in his place shortly before saving his life in the 2009 animated movie. And that's just to name a few. A short Google search will lead you to dozens of articles highlighting the feminist contributions of an incredibly rich female character who has influenced generations.

Whatever side you fall on, you have to admit that Wonder Woman is much more than her costume. She's an icon.

It's hard to think of a more male-dominated field than comic book superheroes, and Wonder Woman has transcended that to become one of the most recognizable faces of justice and baddassery in the world.

Women in Sydney pose in Wonder Woman costumes after a charity race. Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images.

For 75 years, Wonder Woman has been a bulletproof, ass-kicking symbol of strength who's given girls and women someone to idolize. And frankly, when your résumé includes uppercutting Adolf Hitler, being an honorary U.N. ambassador is nothing.

Just like Superman, Batman, or any other male superhero, Wonder Woman represents an ideal slice of humanity. She's a person who fights for what's right no matter what she comes up against. She's a myth, a legend, and an allegory for what's good and fair and just in all of us.

And look, this doesn't mean there isn't a serious problem with female comic book characters being over-sexualized or drawn specifically for the male gaze. But discrediting Wonder Woman completely because of her outfit or her body type (both of which change depending on who draws her) completely ignores what she really stands for and what she represents as an icon to so many people around the world.

Yes, her costume is revealing, but ultimately, isn't it more important to actually listen to what she's saying?

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."