More

Stella Walsh was an Olympian in the 1930s. She was also intersex.

Female athletes can have more than physical hurdles to jump over when competing in the Olympics.

Stella Walsh was an Olympian in the 1930s. She was also intersex.

Stella Walsh was one of the greatest female athletes in history, even though the world tried to strip her of her medals ... and her gender.

Photo via audiovis.nac.gov.pl.


"The Queen of Sprint," as Walsh was more commonly known, was an unequivocal champion of the 100-meter dash. She also happened to be intersex — a reality she kept secret in life because she feared what it might do to her career.

Unfortunately, her fear proved well-founded when her secret was discovered after her death, and people began questioning her natural abilities and record as a result.

Despite a rough childhood, Walsh sprinted ahead into an incredibly successful athletic career.

She was born Stanislawa Walasiewiczowna in Poland in 1911, but moved with her family to Cleveland, Ohio, later that year (although she wouldn't officially become an American citizen until 1947).

In high school, she was a superstar athlete, but her athletic prowess didn't stop her from being the target of bullies, who gave her the nickname "Bull Montana" after the wrestler/actor Lewis Montagna.

Photo via audiovis.nac.gov.pl.

Walsh went on to win numerous medals in both Poland and the United States for running and long jump and, in 1930, broke the world record for the 50-yard dash, which she completed in six seconds, at the Millrose Games.

Walsh competed in the Olympics for the first time at the age of 21 and for the last time in 1936 at the age of 25.

In 1932, she ran as a member of the Polish team, where she performed exceptionally, setting the world record for the 100-meter dash at 11.9 seconds, and she returned to Poland a gold medal champion.

Walsh continued to win medals and break records through 1935, but when she returned to defend her title at the Olympics in Berlin in 1936, she was bested by a worthy adversary — 18-year-old American Helen Stephens.

Walsh shaking hands with Stephens. Photo via audiovis.nac.gov.pl.

Soon after their race, a rumor was leaked to the press that Stephens was actually a man, and Stephens was forced to undergo the first-ever gender inspection by the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

Stephens was confirmed to be female, but the controversy opened up new questions for the IOC, questions that would end up coming back around to hurt Stella Walsh, even after she was killed in 1980 at the age of 69.

Walsh's autopsy revealed something surprising — she had male genitalia.

It's called mosaicism — a cellular mutation that resulted in her having mostly male (XY) chromosomes and therefore making her intersex.

Photo via audiovis.nac.gov.pl.

Walsh's parents chose to raise her as a girl, mostly because back in the 1920s and '30s, terms like "intersex" and "transgender" were barely acknowledged, much less socially accepted.

When the results of Walsh's autopsy were leaked, the press went on a rampage. A new tasteless nickname, "Stella the Fella," began circulating, and articles popped up with titles like "Heroine or Hero?" all because a simple truth had finally been revealed.

Then, Walsh's critics went after her medals, arguing that the IOC should take them back, because, being intersex, Walsh had essentially cheated and hadn't truly earned them.

Ultimately, the IOC opted not to revoke her medals, but on a technicality: She had competed before the organization implemented routine gender verification tests.

The fact that Walsh was under scrutiny 45 years after she competed begs the question: Who determines this gender line and why?

Much like gender itself, it's a complex issue.

Unisex bathroom sign. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images.

Thankfully, the IOC recognized this complexity back in 1996, when it decided to discontinue the gender identification process via chromosomal testing. Now, the IOC examines intersex athletes on a case-by-case basis, and it even began allowing transgender athletes to compete back in 2004, though again, the process there is still discriminatory.

While all these tests were put in place to promote fairness, the qualifiers the IOC uses to define a person's gender are by no means perfect.

Yes, higher testosterone levels can cause "female hyperandrogenism" which may cause a woman to have more stereotypically masculine traits like increased muscle mass. But that isn't always the case.

And even if the IOC did go so far as to impose invasive chromosomal testing on female athletes, the results of those tests could be just as ambiguous, especially because we now know many women are born with a Y chromosome and don't even know it.

Olympian Caster Semenya tested positive for "Y" chromosome. That doesn't mean she's not a woman. Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images.

Weirdly, the IOC doesn't have as many regulations and tests for trans male athletes because trans male athletes aren't perceived as having any sort of physical advantage over their competition.

This is both commendable, in that it shows the IOC's primary focus is on ensuring fair competition, but also disappointing because it reinforces the notion that people assigned male at birth are inherently stronger than those assigned female at birth.

Hopefully, now that more transgender and intersex athletes are coming out to compete in the Olympics, the qualifying system will catch up to them.

It will take time, but there has definitely been progress since Walsh's time, especially in the last 15 years. For example, in just the 2016 Olympics alone, the United States has seven LGBTQ athletes competing.

Megan Rapinoe, US Soccer. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

There may always be a separation between gender at the Olympics, but the spectrum of those genders is widening significantly.

Pexels
True
Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Images via Canva and Unsplash

If there's one thing that everyone can agree on, it's that being in a pandemic sucks.

However, we seem to be on different pages as to what sucks most about it. Many of us are struggling with being separated from our friends and loved ones for so long. Some of us have lost friends and family to the virus, while others are dealing with ongoing health effects of their own illness. Millions are struggling with job loss and financial stress due to businesses being closed. Parents are drowning, dealing with their kids' online schooling and lack of in-person social interactions on top of their own work logistics. Most of us hate wearing masks (even if we do so diligently), and the vast majority of us are just tired of having to think about and deal with everything the pandemic entails.

Much has been made of the mental health impact of the pandemic, which is a good thing. We need to have more open conversations about mental health in general, and with everything so upside down, it's more important now than ever. However, it feels like pandemic mental health conversations have been dominated by people who want to justify anti-lockdown arguments. "We can't let the cure be worse than the disease," people say. Kids' mental health is cited as a reason to open schools, the mental health challenges of financial despair as a reason to keep businesses open, and the mental health impact of social isolation as a reason to ditch social distancing measures.

It's not that those mental health challenges aren't real. They most definitely are. But when we focus exclusively on the mental health impact of lockdowns, we miss the fact that there are also significant mental health struggles on the other side of those arguments.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
True
Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

Keep Reading Show less
via Budweiser

Budweiser beer, and its low-calorie counterpart, Bud Light, have created some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials of the past 37 years.

There were the Clydesdales playing football and the poor lost puppy who found its way home because of the helpful horses. Then there were the funny frogs who repeated the brand name, "Bud," "Weis," "Er."

We can't forget the "Wassup?!" ad that premiered in December 1999, spawning the most obnoxious catchphrase of the new millennium.

Keep Reading Show less