+
More

She competed in a hijab and burkini, making Miss Minnesota history at 19.

For the first time in the pageant's history, a contestant wore a burkini during the swimsuit segment.

She was born in a Kenyan refugee camp. Then, at 6 years old, Halima Aden and her family moved to Minnesota.

Minnesota is home to one of the largest Somali communities in the U.S. As such, Aden grew up surrounded by lots of other Muslim women and girls. What she saw in the media, however, didn't match her own experience growing up in America.

"As long as I could remember, the media portrays Muslim women as oppressed and in a very negative light,” she told Huffington Post in an interview this November. “But you never see the beauty and the good things that come from Muslim women.”

Now 19 years old, Aden entered the Miss Minnesota USA pageant, making a bit of history in the process.

Like many pageants, Miss Minnesota USA has a swimsuit competition. Rather than wearing a one-piece suit or bikini like the other contestants, Aden did something completely different: She wore a burkini.

Photo by Leila Navidi/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ TNS via ZUMA Wire.

The word "burkini" is a portmanteau of the words "burqa" and "bikini," and it is essentially a full-coverage wetsuit worn by some Muslim women for personal or religious reasons.

"This is a great platform to show the world who I am," she told Minnesota Public Radio before the competition. "Just because I've never seen a woman wearing a burkini (in a pageant) it doesn't mean that I don't have to be the first."

Burkinis, which were invented a little over a decade ago, were designed to ensure that Muslim children wouldn't miss out on swimming and other activities.

What began as little more than a sensible solution that allowed children to observe their religion while taking part in activities with their peers soon turned into a controversy.

Some towns in France have banned burkinis, citing a number of concerns about safety, secularism, and an argument against the patriarchy, claiming that the suits are oppressing women. The truth is, however, that someone in a burkini does not present a threat to anyone else's safety, it's not an act of evangelism, and many women choose to wear it — just as many women choose to wear bikinis.

Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti created the burkini. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

Aden's decision to wear a burkini on stage matters, especially since anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in the U.S., with the FBI finding a 67% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2015.

In the lead up to — and aftermath of — the 2016 election, U.S. Muslims are facing an increasingly hostile environment. A University of Michigan student claims that a man threatened to set her on fire unless she removed her hijab, there have been multiple instances of women having hijabs pulled off their heads, and a Muslim Uber driver reported being verbally accosted by a complete stranger.

Two days before the election, President-elect Donald Trump told a Minnesota crowd, "You've seen first-hand the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state without your knowledge, without your support or approval." He then went on to claim that Somali refugees — like Aden — are joining ISIS. This sort of baseless claim is dangerous, and only furthers the growing anti-Muslim feeling.

While Aden didn't win the Miss Minnesota USA competition, her decision to wear her hijab and burkini on stage is a bold display of bravery.

"What I wanted to do was to just give people a different perspective," she told MPR. "We just needed one more thing to unify us. This is a small act, but I feel like having the title of Miss Minnesota USA when you are a Somali-American, when you are a Muslim woman, I think that would open up people's eyes."

Leila Navidi/Minneapolis Star Tribune/ TNS via ZUMA Wire

Maybe seeing Aden on stage meant challenging any preconceived notions people in the audience may have had about Somali-Americans and Muslims. Maybe Aden's act gave courage to other Muslim girls and women who've felt as though they cannot (or should not) be themselves in public.

Personal acts of bravery — even as simple as saying, "I exist" — are crucial in questionable and trying times. By simply existing and participating in the pageant, Aden pushed back against powerful expectations. She may not have won, but she still made a difference.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

Keep ReadingShow less