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The 'How would a male author describe you?' Twitter challenge is a lot of fun.

"She had an ass like a plump popsicle and I deigned to admire her."

The 'How would a male author describe you?' Twitter challenge is a lot of fun.

Can male authors write powerful, strong, and accurate female characters? Totally. Do many struggle with it? Well...

Author Gwen C. Katz was scrolling through Twitter, reading a thread about members of marginalized groups advocating for more work written by marginalized individuals. Of course, it went haywire — especially when a man just had to jump in to assure others that he was every bit as capable of writing an accurate female character as any woman.

"I think writers should be able to write from any perspective as long as they can pull it off. It takes research, skill, and creativity, but if a good writer can't do those things, he/she isn't a good writer, right?" he wrote. "My book is a first-person [point-of-view] and the [main character] is a woman. I'm definitely not a woman. But it works because I was able to pull it off. I reject someone saying I couldn't write a female [main character] because I'm a male, because, well, I just did. It's called writing."


Oh boy. Was he able to pull it off?

"I sauntered over, certain he noticed me. I'm hard to miss, I'd like to think — a little tall (but not too tall, a nice set of curves if I do say so myself, pants so impossibly tight that if I had a credit card in my back pocket you could read the expiration date. The rest of my outfit wasn't that remarkable, just a few old things I had lying around. You know how it is."

The thread (which you can read in its entirety here) included a few other choice passages from chapter one of this mystery book, but the point was made: Some guys just don't know how to write about women without being really weird about it.

Now, maybe you're saying to yourself, "Sure, but that's just one guy that nobody's heard of." Fair point. For another example, which was uncovered by writer Julia Carpenter, let's look to renowned author John Updike:

Excerpt from "The Witches of Eastwick" by John Updike.

It's not limited to books, either. Take, for instance, this 2016 Vanity Fair profile of actress Margot Robbie, which begins:

"America is so far gone, we have to go to Australia to find a girl next door. In case you’ve missed it, her name is Margot Robbie. She is 26 and beautiful, not in that otherworldly, catwalk way but in a minor knock-around key, a blue mood, a slow dance. She is blonde but dark at the roots. She is tall but only with the help of certain shoes. She can be sexy and composed even while naked but only in character."

To be sure, there's nothing necessarily wrong with describing people or characters as sexy (though, if you don't understand how women pee, maybe don't try to go into detail about that). It's just that this type of writing is so formulaic, so common.

Twitter users had a bit of fun with the format after Whitney Reynolds recently offered a challenge: "Describe yourself like a male author would."

The replies were absolutely epic, with thousands of people responding.

Thanks to a new chart from Electric Literature, creating your own personal description is as easy as spelling your name.

The result follows this format: "She had ____ like a ____ ____ and I ____ to ____ her."

For instance, if your name were Sarah, your description would read: "She had knockers like a silken princess and I longed to proposition her." If your name was Brittany, you'd get: "She had a bust like a shrill popsicle and I ached to fondle her."

Fun, right?

"The Twitter challenge originated in response to a man who was claiming that his female characters were so convincing, they proved that there's no need to elevate a wider range of voices. White male writers can do it all!" Electric Lit editor-in-chief Jess Zimmerman says. "But when writers take on characters they don't really understand or respect, what you end up with is a kind of puppet show: all the 'real people' look the same, and everyone else is just a weak, potentially offensive bit of 2D guesswork. This is not actually good for the state of literature! It's alienating to readers and impoverishing for books."

Zimmerman elaborates, clarifying that she knows it's #NotAllMen who do this, chalking the prevalence of the detached and unnecessarily sexualized descriptions as the result of a culture that never really asks men to see things from a woman's perspective.

"That's why the joke in our generator is that the woman is described according to the man's reactions: a lot of male writers, including famous ones, never get any closer to 'imagining a woman's experience' than 'imagining my experience of a woman.' But keen observation, empathy, and the ability to take on someone else's perspective are crucial novelist skills. Male novelists should relish the effort it takes to do better."

Let's all have a laugh, and for the authors in the audience, don't let your writing become an internet meme.

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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.

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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.