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Dez Marshall first cut her hair short in high school.  It was a look she loved for herself, and one she had to fight for when she decided to try out a new barbershop in college.

Photo by Dez Marshall. Images used with permission.

"I was trying to explain to them that I just want something really low, wanted a nice shape-up, and the barber was like, ‘Oh, you want the lesbian haircut?'" Marshall said.


It wasn't the first time she felt uncomfortable in a barber's chair, and it wouldn't be the last.

"Being a woman, being queer, there’s a lot of weird questions that different barbers would ask me that just felt really invasive."

Marshall graduated and moved to New York City, where she found a job as an organizer — mentoring queer youth of color and advocating for their safety and access to public spaces. As she got to know her colleagues, she was struck by how many of them had similar stories: encounters with well-meaning but clueless stylists who were confused when their requests didn't match the stylist's own expectations about how they should want to look. Prurient questions about their dating lives. Dirty looks from other customers.

Marshall decided to take matters into her own hands — and bought herself a pair of clippers.

Marshall began cutting hair in 2013 with the goal of offering her queer, trans, and gender-nonconforming customers a stylish, no-drama trim.

Marshall at barber school in 2013. Photo by Dez Marshall/Instagram.

She currently works at The Gamesman — an established barbershop on Court Street in downtown Brooklyn — where her predominately young, LGBTQ clients mix comfortably with a large contingent of old-timers.

Marshall, initially nervous that friction might develop with the shop's older clientele, attributes her success at integrating to her former boss, Frank Shami, who passed away in August.

"Frank was very old-school, but Frank also lived by this code of: You respect people and people respect you," Marshall said.

Marshall quickly established herself at The Gamesman, with Shami as mentor, talking up her skills and frequently complimenting her clients' cuts. Though she sometimes argues politics with the other customers in the shop, Marshall says her fellow barbers and most of the regulars have embraced her presence there — and more importantly, have made room for her clients to be themselves and chat openly about their lives without judgment.

Marshall and client Milo. Photo by Dez Marshall/Facebook.

"It always makes everything easier when you don’t have to fight or prove to someone that you belong in the space," she said. "Frank just welcomed everybody. That made my job a lot easier."

With Shami's death, Marshall plans to move from The Gamesman to Colleen's House of Beauty, a few blocks away.

"It’s hard for me to remember my pre-Dez haircut time," said Emmett Findley, one of Marshall's long-time clients.

Growing up in Michigan, Findley, who identifies as trans, often struggled to reconcile his gender identity with his outward appearance, which he felt "didn't match up." He found Marshall through a Facebook networking group for LGBTQ New Yorkers after moving to Brooklyn eight years ago, and he credits her for finally giving him the haircut that he "wanted but didn’t even know that I wanted."

"The more masculine a haircut for me, the more masculine I can present, which is what I’m going for," Findley said. "It can help me feel safe in spaces where, historically, I haven’t felt so safe."

Emmett Findley, with post-Marshall hair. Photo by Emmett Findley.

Working with a barber who understands that, he said, helps him feel confident in his presentation and experience. Since finding Marshall, getting his hair cut, which was something he only used to do when necessary, has become a source of enjoyment for the Brooklynite.

“Now I go really regularly. It’s a form of my own personal self-care. I go every two weeks without fail. I put it in my budget."

Though Marshall will "cut anybody that wants to sit in her chair" — she sees a number of straight, cis clients as well — creating a nonjudgmental space for her LGBTQ customers to let their guard down is a critical part of her work.

"It’s really nice to enter a community space where you feel seen and your voice matters," Findley said.

Marshall said she takes special care to ask new clients for their preferred gender pronouns, how they want their hair to look, and about what sort of experiences they've had with past barbers or stylists to ensure she doesn't repeat mistakes. Conversations with customers are often "surface level" at first, but her goal as those relationships develop and deepen for the 20 to 40 minutes they're in her chair is to make her clients feel safe discussing everything from their relationships to struggles with their gender identity to medical treatments.

That sense of openness and intimacy, she said, can be hard for her LGBTQ clients to find — not just in barbershops and salons, but in too many spaces, public and private.

"[As] you start seeing these people on a weekly basis or a monthly basis for a year or more, you become part of each others' lives in different ways," Marshall said. "And no one should have to censor their lives because others might feel uncomfortable."

Making room for those conversations and helping her clients achieve looks that boost their confidence, Marshall said, is why she sees cutting hair as an extension of her advocacy for her community — one that allows her to make a real difference in people's lives.

Marshall with a client. Photo by Dez Marshall/Facebook.

"As an organizer, you can be working for years and never achieve a win on the issues that you’re organizing around. With cutting hair, I achieve a win after every single client."

For her customers, the appeal is even more obvious.

"I get complimented all the time on my hair, and I’m glad to have that on record," Findley said.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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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.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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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.

Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

Giphy

Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.

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.

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