The moving story of Judith and Joyce Scott will make you believe in twin magic.
True
A&E Born This Way

Twin sisters Judith and Joyce Scott's life story sounds straight out of a movie.

It's a story with everything you'd imagine in an Oscar-winning movie: an idyllic childhood, heart-shattering loss, an emotional reunion followed by triumph, and resounding artistic acclaim. Above all, it's two sisters who loved each other beyond adversity and through everything. And it's 100% true.


Twin sisters Judith (right) and Joyce Scott as infants. All images via Joyce Scott, used with permission.

Joyce and Judith were born in Cincinnati in 1943. Judith had Down syndrome and Joyce did not. The sisters were loving and devoted to each other.

For the first seven years of their lives, they spent most of their days playing in a sandbox made just for the two of them. They slept in the same bed at night.

But their parents grew overwhelmed and desperate. They didn't know how to interact with Judith. Along with Down syndrome, she couldn't speak and had undiagnosed deafness. The medical community at the time knew very little about how to engage children with Down syndrome and recommended institutionalizing her. Her parents gave in.

At age 7, Judith was sent to live in a sanitarium. She remained there for the next 25 years.

During that time, her sister Joyce grew up. But she couldn't shake the memories of her sister.

By the time she was 25, Joyce had graduated from college, moved to California, and started work as a nurse specializing in care for children with developmental disabilities. She befriended the mother of one of her patients, joining her on silent meditation retreats. Five days into a six-day retreat, Joyce had an epiphany.

"I had this feeling that I was there with Judy and that our core was a central core that we shared. It was like someone turning on the light in a dark room. It became clear to me: ‘What on earth is she doing in an institution 2,000 miles away when she could be with us?'" Joyce told an interviewer last year.

Just like that, Joyce's life changed. She assumed guardianship of her sister and brought her home to California. Their family was finally whole again.

As the sisters adapted to their new life, Joyce learned about Creative Growth, an enrichment center for developmentally disabled adults.

Judith and Joyce Scott.

She began taking Judith there five days a week for painting and drawing classes, hoping something would spark her creativity.

For two years, nothing clicked. Then one day, a textile artist came to give a presentation. Judith was transfixed. She picked up two sticks and began slowly, methodically wrapping them in strips of fabric.

That wrapped bundle became her first sculpture. Over the next 18 years, she would create more than 200 more.

Judith's talent was rare and immediately apparent.

Her sculptures defy convention and definition. They're simple and intricate, colorful and muted, commanding and gentle.

The unifying feature of Judith's work is wrapped fabric. Her pieces range in size from tiny handheld sculptures that resemble dolls to huge installation pieces that cannot be moved without help. She wasn't particular about her medium, working with whatever items were around the Creative Growth studio.

Nor was there a particular rhythm to her process. She worked exactly as long as a piece took to finish — whether that was an hour, a day, a week, even a month.

An exhibition of Judith's work at a gallery in Brooklyn, New York.

Judith Scott had almost no interaction with her artworks once she finished them. The exception was when she saw them at her first art show. According to her sister, Judith wandered among the works and, one by one, kissed or hugged them. "There wasn't a dry eye in the house," recalls Joyce.

It didn't take long before people started to notice Judith's talent.

In 1999, Creative Growth held the first showing of Judith's work to coincide with the release of the first book about her. It drew worldwide attention, which meant more admirers and more books for Judith, along with documentaries and news articles.

Judith was both nonverbal and illiterate, with no way to share the inspiration behind her creations. Everything — even the names of the artworks themselves — is up to the viewer's interpretation.

"Judith's sculptures, objects, things are, to my mind, amongst the most important three-dimensional things made in the last century. There is no question or doubt about it."
Matthew Higgs, former director of exhibitions at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts

Critics have tried to define Judith's art, calling it "outsider art" or "brutalist." But her art stands on its own out of necessity. She told her story through wrapped objects and knotted fabric, rather than words and sentences.

In 2005, one evening after dinner, Judith passed away peacefully in her sister's arms. For the past 11 years, Joyce has continued to tell her story.

In addition to her work helping other artists with disabilities around the world, Joyce has joined exhibitions of Judith's work and written a book about their life together.

Many people credit Joyce with transforming her sister's life, but she disagrees. Judith, she says, was her guardian and caretaker, not the other way around.

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.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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.