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Author and researcher Rosalind Wiseman calls herself a listener. Intimate conversations and interviews with hundreds of teen girls formed the basis for her hit book, "Queen Bees and Wannabes,"about how to help teen girls survive the wild world of high school. The book, which was eventually turned into the blockbuster movie "Mean Girls," was lauded for its frighteningly accurate depiction of female bullying.

[rebelmouse-image 19530238 dam="1" original_size="408x230" caption="GIF from "Mean Girls."" expand=1]GIF from "Mean Girls."


By bringing an open mind to her research (she says she simply takes what young people say and translates it for adults), she exposed some important truths about the inner workings of "girl world" to parents everywhere. Since the success of "Queen Bees" and "Mean Girls," however, Wiseman has been doing work that she argues is even more exciting and important, and that's gotten far less attention: trying to understand adolescent and teenage boys.

It's work that's especially important as conversations around toxic masculinity and sexual harassment have become increasingly mainstream.

Wiseman says there are four key things she's learned in her conversations with hundreds of our country's future men about how we can better shape the next generation.

1. Listen to what young boys have to say.

It seems ironic, Wiseman says, to shout: "Hey, men need to have their voices heard!"After all, men's voices are heard almost everywhere. They quite literally get most of the speaking lines in movies (even movies about women), they hold over 80% of the seats in Congress, and in the business world, about 95% of CEO positions are filled by men. In the case of younger men, however, listening to what they have to say just might be the right thing to do.

"We think they talk a lot and take up a lot of space, but we don't often ask about their opinions," Wiseman explains. If we want to really make changes to the culture of masculinity as it pertains to boys, there's really no better way to make sure we're at least getting an accurate picture of how they see the world around them.

For her 2013 book, "Masterminds and Wingmen" (sort of the boy version of "Mean Girls"), Wiseman spoke in-depth with nearly 200 teenage boys. Contrary to expectations, Wiseman says she found many were more than eager for a chance to finally share their fears and insecurities.

There are plenty of problems with the way boys in our country are raised and problems with how we've defined what it means to "be a man." But figuring out how to fix things shouldn't be an adults-only conversation.

As Wiseman says: "It's absurd to me to tell boys what their lives are like without talking to them first."

2. Don't wait to have important conversations about what they should do if they see abuse happening around them.

[rebelmouse-image 19530239 dam="1" original_size="1200x634" caption="Photo by Dariusz Sankowski/Pixabay." expand=1]Photo by Dariusz Sankowski/Pixabay.

"There is a minority of boys and men that, for whatever reason, feel they have a right to abuse people," Wiseman explains. "Through a combination of social intelligence and privilege, they know the majority of boys and young men who don't like what they're doing are going to be silent."

Many parents refuse to even consider that their own son will eventually be faced with a challenging situation — hearing his buddies trading vulgar, sexist jokes, or seeing a teacher have inappropriate contact with a student. They certainly don't think he'd have no idea what to do or that he might be a perpetrator himself.

The majority of teens will witness some kind of abuse of power at some point, Wiseman says. We shouldn't wait until after the fact to let them know we expect them to stand up for what's right, even if it's hard.

"We have to look at them as partners in this," she says. "Tell them 'I just want you to be able to know where I stand and where my expectations are for you.'"

3. Now for the hard part  — parents and adults have to model upstanding behavior for boys to see.

Talking the talk is easy. But walking the walk is what truly matters.

Parents frequently reach out to Wiseman with the same problem: "What if I go to [holiday] dinner and Uncle Bob says some racist, homophobic comment?"

Let's face it: a lot of us freeze up, change the subject, or otherwise don't want to deal with a potential confrontation, so we laugh it off or brush it under the rug. (Billy Bush, anyone?) Then we're shocked when boys do the same thing around friends making racist or sexist or homophobic comments.

It's OK that we're not perfect parents or role models 100% of the time, but it's important to acknowledge those missteps to the boys who look up to us when they happen. Standing up for what's right in the moment is the right thing to do, but it sure can be easier to wait until the car ride home to tell your kids, "Hey, you know, what Uncle Bob said wasn't OK."

Don't let yourself off the hook though, Wiseman urges. When you tell your kid that what Uncle Bob did was wrong, own up to your own passiveness as well. Even a simple, "I didn't handle that the way I should have," can be enough.

"Just having that conversation makes it so much more likely that your son will come to you the next time he's in a tough situation," Wiseman advises.

4. Encourage them to expect better of themselves.

[rebelmouse-image 19530240 dam="1" original_size="4218x3290" caption="Photo by NatureAddict/Pixabay." expand=1]Photo by NatureAddict/Pixabay.

Wiseman says one of the inherent and tragic flaws in the way America has defined masculinity is that caring about, well, pretty much anything makes you weak. And if you're weak, you're not really a man.

Caring about something like feminism? Sexual harassment? Social justice? It can make a man an utter outcast in some social circles.

"That is a travesty," Wiseman laments. "I say to high school boys all the time … 'a man of honor is someone who shuts their mouth when horrible things are going on around you? How did that become the definition of what a man is?'"

"I wouldn't put up with that if I were you," she tells them. "You're better than this; you're stronger than this."

In response, she sees them sit up a little taller and stand a little prouder. It's something they don't hear enough.

13 years later, peopleare still talking about "Mean Girls" and what it says about how our society treats girls. Let's hope Wiseman's work on "boy world" has the same kind of effect.

Young men aren't always going to do the right thing. They'll fold under the pressure of having to stand up to their best friend. They'll laugh at an offensive joke. They'll make mistakes.

And so will we, as teachers, parents, and role models.

"We have to acknowledge that we suck," Wiseman concludes.

"We have to say to boys, 'Hey, I get that I'm holding you to a high standard. I understand that you don't have a lot of good role models.' It doesn't mean we're going to give up."

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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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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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.

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

Here are 14 timeless pleasures to make you feel like a kid again:

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