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What are women up to when no one is watching?


Artwork courtesy of Sally Nixon, used with permission.

Well, take a look at Sally Nixon's illustrations and you'll see.



The subjects in her artwork aren't aware we're looking at them.

And that's the point. They're living in a world free from the pressures that exist in the real one.

"I like drawing girls doing their everyday routine — just hanging out, not worried about what others are thinking," Nixon told Upworthy. "They're usually alone or with other girls. Their guard is down."

Editor's note: An image below contains partial nudity.

Capturing her subjects in this liberated light wasn't intentional at first, she explained.

But when she started a 365-day challenge last April to create one art piece a day, the work started reflecting the nuances of her own life away from prying eyes — "I was kind of like, 'Oh, I'm brushing my teeth, so I'll draw that.'" — and a theme began to form.Her illustrations show how women look, away from the exhausting world where they're often judged more harshly than men.

You also might notice none of the girls in her illustrations are smiling.

According to Nixon, that's a deliberate choice.

"I don't sit around smiling to myself," Nixon said, noting the double standard that exists in thinking women should always appear cheerful.

"I've been told, 'You need to smile more.' It's so infuriating. I wanted to show the way girls actually look, comfortably."

The theme of friendship is also an important one in Nixon's drawings.

“I have four older sisters, so female friendship has always been a big part of my life," Nixon told The Huffington Post. “You gotta have someone to talk about periods with, and dudes just don't get it."

Creating relatable scenes was key to Nixon, too — from the details of women's lives to the physical shapes of their bodies.

“It's important that the women I draw aren't rail thin with huge boobs," Nixon said. “I think there are enough images of bodies like that out in the world. The ladies I draw typically have small-ish, droopy breasts and thick thighs. They're kind of lumpy but in an attractive way. Just like real people."

The women in Nixon's work aren't real, but she hopes their stories are.

"One of my absolute favorite comments [on my work] is, 'Oh my God, it's me!'" she explained of the depictions.

"There's a little bit of beauty in [everyday life] and I wanted to bring that out."

You can view more of Nixon's artwork on her website and check out her prints for purchase on Etsy.


This article originally appeared on 04.15.16










True
CW Valor

Even as a child, Kathryn Thomas knew she wanted to be a helicopter pilot.

After watching a helicopter demonstration at 11, her dreams were set in motion. Thomas earned her wings of gold in 2009, certifying her as a U.S. naval aviator.

But while on deployment, Thomas broke her ankle and later suffered complications. She was told she'd never fly again.


All images via Upworthy/Facebook.

The experience of a long recovery and exit from the Navy left Thomas depressed and anxious. She turned to yoga.

So much of her identity was wrapped up in her military career. Practicing yoga helped Thomas find some relief and a sense of purpose after life in the Navy.

"I started to practice yoga, and that’s really what changed my outcome because I was able to find myself again on my mat," she said.

After discovering the restorative power of yoga, Thomas started Yoga 4 Change to help others who've experienced trauma.

The Northeast Florida nonprofit serves four distinct populations: young people experiencing abuse or trauma; military veterans; people struggling with substance abuse or in recovery, and incarcerated individuals. Professional yoga teachers lead the classes in schools, rehabilitation centers, correctional facilities, and community spaces at no cost to the participants.

And it's not just learning poses. Classes focus on empathy, optimism, gratitude, vulnerability, and more. It's truly a moment to reconnect with the body, mind, and spirit.

"I support Yoga 4 Change 110%. It’s definitely changed my life for the better. It’s opened my eyes to a dimension of spirituality that I had never acknowledged before," said Alan Calkins, a former inmate who's now in training to be a Yoga 4 Change teacher.

Calkins (center) participates in a session.

Thomas turned to yoga to help her recover. Now, Yoga 4 Change has helped more than 15,000 people do the same.

Hear her story and see why participants like Alan Calkins owe so much to the program.

She's bringing yoga to those who need it most, but don't have access.

Posted by Upworthy on Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hilary Duff shared a wildly viral Instagram post aimed at body-shamers that has the internet collectively cheering.

"I am posting this on behalf of young girls, women, and mothers of all ages," she begins her post. "I'm enjoying a vacation with my son after a long season of shooting and being away from him for weeks at a time over those months. Since websites and magazines love to share 'celeb flaws' — well I have them!"

"I'm turning 30 in September and my body is healthy and gets me where I need to go. Ladies, let's be proud of what we've got and stop wasting precious time in the day wishing we were different, better, and unflawed. You guys (you know who you are!) already know how to ruin a good time, and now you are body-shamers as well. #kissmyass"

Let's be totally clear: Duff is young, thin, and conventionally attractive. That inherent privilege is important to remember here, providing some context to the responses she got.

Her message has largely been really well-received, racking up all sorts of positive headlines about how she "crushed Instagram haters" and got "the ultimate revenge" on her critics. That sort of response is great — however, it's important to ask whether the same anti-body-shaming message would have gotten the same praise coming from a less conventionally attractive source.

Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Zimmermann.

A number of fat acceptance activists and writers have grappled with whether it's even all that helpful for a "body positive" message to be delivered by someone who doesn't face hardship on the basis of their body. In a 2016 interview with Bustle, Arched Eyebrow blogger Bethany Rutter took aim at this diluted definition of "body positivity."

"Body positivity has been co-opted so comprehensively as to have become meaningless," she said. "Since not all bodies are discriminated against, and there are specific characteristics that mean some most definitely are, it stands to reason that a term as generic as 'body positivity' does not work."

Duff's underlying message is important — so long as we work to apply it to all people and not just conventionally attractive celebrities.

When we cheer a celebrity who "fires back at" or "totally shuts down" the body-shamers, we need to make sure that we're also applying that message to fat bodies, short bodies, trans bodies, black bodies, brown bodies, disabled bodies, and every other body too.

It's crucial that we fight for a world in which no woman — or any person of any gender — is made to feel ashamed of who they are or what they look like. That's something society needs to tackle, and it starts with pushing back against the unending scrutiny women get based on their bodies. Duff is right that judging someone, for better or for worse, on the basis of their appearance only feeds the body-shaming culture.

So let's get to work building a world where all women of all shapes and sizes can feel free to be themselves and love their bodies without shame. Sound good?

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Greg Dunn and Brian Edwards are scientists-turned-artists.

In their new project "Self Reflected," Dunn and Edwards used a new technique called micro-etching to illuminate one specific organ in the human body.

The pair developed the technique, which combines hand drawing, gilding, and photolithography along with data visualizations to create amazing art. It allows dynamic control of an image and its colors using reflective gold surfaces.


They took a slice of tissue of this mystery human organ and magnified it 22 times. And what they created was beyond incredible.

Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

The kaleidoscopic vividness is surreal, but the sheer beauty of the images is only part of the story.

Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

Each image looks wholly unique, but all the images are from a single human organ.

Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

Can you guess what organ it is? We'll give you a hint...

Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

If you zoom out a bit you'll see that...

Self-reflected in violets — the entire self reflected in micro-etching under violet and white light. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

...it's the brain!

Surprising, I know. My eyes still don't believe that this is a slice of the visual cortex.

The visual cortex, the region located at the back of the brain that processes visual information. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

Or that this is a 22-times magnification of our brain stem.

Raw colorized micro-etching data from the reticular formation and brainstem. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

But that's the beautiful gilded truth.

The midbrain, an area that carries out diverse functions in reward, eye movement, hearing, attention, and movement. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

“Self Reflected was created to remind us that the most marvelous machine in the known universe is at the core of our being and is the root of our shared humanity,” they wrote on their site.

The thalamus and basal ganglia, sorting senses, initiating movement, and making decisions. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

Combined, all the images in the series show only 500,000 neurons and circuits of the billions in the human brain. The images were hand-gilded with 1,750 sheets of 22-karat gold leaf.

The pons, a region involved in movement and implicated in consciousness. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

The first version of "Self Reflected," which consists of 25 etched panels of the brain, is on permanent display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The micro-etching technique makes the appearance of the art completely dependent on lighting that can change the viewers’ experience each time they look at it.

The entire Self Reflected micro-etching under white light. Photo by Greg Dunn and Will Drinker.

The ornate beauty of these images offers much more than what's on its surface. They are a glimpse into the organ that sets us apart as a species, that allows us the ability to create and appreciate art like this.

What Dunn and Edwards have done with this project is more than science and more than art — they've examined the deepest areas of our mind and found beauty reflected back at them.

Watch the video below to learn more about the project:

Clarification 4/29/2017: The article was updated to clarify that this photo project shows about 500,000 neurons and circuits in the brain, but in total the brain contains millions of them.