+

It was the kick to the face heard 'round the world.

Ever since the shocking knockout of then-undefeated mixed martial arts champion Ronda Rousey by Holly Holm last month, Rousey has been humiliated and in hiding. Until now.



One of the punches before the final kick, which was so graphic, I refrained from posting. Photo by Paul Crock/Getty Images.

This week, the fighter and cultural phenom opened up to ESPN Magazine's Ramona Shelburne in her first interview since her punishing defeat.

The interview (which you should definitely read in its entirety if you have the time) covers everything from Rousey's days since the fight to her team's reactions to the loss, her career leading up to this moment, and her controversial romantic relationship with a boyfriend accused of domestic violence in a previous relationship. But the opening quote from Rousey sums up the conversation's central and surprising theme:

"I'm just really f---ing sad."

That's right. The brash fighter known for her bravado is openly mourning her crushing defeat.

As a lifelong boxing fan (yes, boxing, MMA's graying older cousin), I've seen quite a few upsets and fallen champions in my day. But I've never seen any quite as openly despondent as Rousey in this interview.

"I just feel so embarrassed. How I fought after that is such an embarrassing representation of myself."

While most athletes who are "good sports" give the obligatory congratulations to their opponent, when champions lose, there is typically still a hint of bravado glimmering beneath the surface. Especially when the losing champion was known for confidence. Swollen-eyed and bloody-lipped, they say things like: "They fought a better fight than me, but it won't happen again" or "Congratulations to the winner; I hope they enjoy their brief time with my title."

Not Rousey. At least not here.

Some might see her sudden lack of cockiness as evidence of a well-deserved humbling that was long overdue. The fighter has made her fair share of enemies both inside the ring (she famously refused to touch gloves with Holm before the fight) and outside of it (see the backlash over her transphobic remarks about transgender fighters).

But it's impossible to hear Rousey now without thinking of the complicated relationship that women — particularly highly successful women — often have with failure.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

See, for any ambitious person, the societal narratives around failure are downright confusing: It's something we're supposed to embrace to get ahead ... and yet, success only comes by being a consistent winner. How's that for a conundrum?

But for women, the dilemma gets even trickier. There's often the added pressure of being the first, the only woman (think Hillary Clinton) or of having to work twice as hard as the boys for respect (think Serena Williams). Under that pressure, failure can feel like a setback of epic proportions.

"You can't succeed without failing first" is the popular adage. But for women, there's often an addendum: "Failure is the key to your success, but you can't fail without confirming the sexist naysayers, losing ground, losing respect, losing your position, or opening yourself up to public ridicule."

Are these results 100% unique to women? Of course not. But the topic of women and failure has been heavily studied, and the research provides an interesting backdrop for Rousey's post-loss despair.

Research shows that women are generally more afraid to fail and that failure hits them harder than their male counterparts.

That fear can affect women's long-term trajectory and standing in their fields. Everything from would-be female scientists dropping out of STEM programs to women avoiding entrepreneurship to female journalists pitching fewer stories has been linked, in part, to women's fear of rejection.

"Every American heroine should brace herself for the backlash. We want superwomen, but when we find them, it freaks us the hell out." — Ramona Shelburne in an interview with Ronda Rousey

There are many theories about why that's the case. Maybe it's because, as children, girls are often praised for their innate abilities while boys are praised for their valiant efforts. That can lead boys to grow into men accustomed to risk while girls become women who avoid situations that don't guarantee perfection.

Or perhaps it's simply the result of living in a sexist society, where the consequences of failure are much harsher for women. In this regard, their fear is often justified.

But whatever the reason for women's enhanced sensitivity to failure, experts Carol Dweck and Rachel Simmons say of the leading research, "We've spilled more ink on whether women believe in themselves and not enough on what happens when women fail."

So what happens when this thing we fear so much actually occurs?

That question is why Rousey is an interesting case study. It's rare for us to see wildly successful women known for winning lose in a crushing and public defeat.

In the interview, Shelburne directly calls out the questions about what Rousey's loss may have "represented" (emphasis added):

Shelburne: "Now we're left wondering what really ended that night in Australia. The Rousey Myth of Invincibility? The idea that one woman could fly in on a cape and take down male hegemony with an armbar?"


Rousey: "I feel like I'm grieving the death of the person who could've done that."

When Rousey was defeated, the mocking and criticism was unlike any that I've seen in recent sports history.

To be fair, most opinionated, strong women who fail in public are familiar with backlash. As Shelburne noted in the profile, "Every American heroine should brace herself for the backlash. We want superwomen, but when we find them, it freaks us the hell out."


But I, for one, am glad we get to see such an open reaction from Rousey in the ESPN interview because there are two powerful things we can learn from it:

1. It's OK to be more transparent about the pain of defeat.

While Rousey may have been physically hiding from the paparazzi, she isn't hiding behind a facade of impenetrability and stoicism that women so often feel the need to project to the world. She is, as the writer observed "being vulnerable when everyone thought she was invincible."

In other words, she's revealing herself as human.What would happen if more of us did the same?

What if we stopped saying "It's OK!" or "I'm fine!"and just admitted "This hurts and has knocked me for a loop. I am still trying to recover."

Perhaps if we did, it wouldn't just offer us healthy emotional release, it would give folks a better understanding of how much strength and resolve it takes to get back up.

Which leads to the second lesson that we can learn from Rousey:

2. Fighters always get back in the ring.

The only time Rousey's confidence shines through is when she's discussing her imminent return and the potential for a rematch:

"I need to come back. I need to beat this chick. Who knows if I'm going to pop my teeth out or break my jaw or rip my lip open. I have to f---ing do it."

Later in the interview, when asked the question "So, are you going to fight again?" Rousey answered simply, "What else am I going to f---ing do?"

What else indeed. Rousey is a fighter and a champion. And champions never let defeat truly defeat them. Even with her pain and embarrassment in the present moment, she's already made a decision to get back in the arena with the confidence that failure is merely a comma not a period in the story of her life.

"I always say you have to be willing to get your heart broken. That's just what f---ing happens when you try."

What if all women, if given the opportunity, always chose to do the same?

Photo by Paul Crock/Getty Images.

Ultimately, time will tell whether or not this defeat changes the trajectory of Rousey's career. Did it mar her legacy? Did it "appropriately" humble her, as many in the public stated (even though arrogance is typically praised in male fighters)? Will it empower her to be better and victorious the next time around? Fight fans will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, her public failure, public grief, and desire for a public reprise can serve as an example to women: We undefeated overachievers can survive the knockouts of life just as well as the boys.

And we, too, can always get back up.

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
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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

Keep ReadingShow less
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