+
upworthy
Pop Culture

The 'Sunscreen Song' is 25. Here’s why the advice from the Gen X anthem is still important.

Remember the moving graduation speech that became an unlikely hit?

baz luhrmann, sunscreen song, '90s music

The video for "Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)."

On June 1, 1997, the Chicago Tribune published columnist Mary Schmich's fantasy commencement speech entitled, "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young." In the piece, she lamented that "Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out," but most of us, "will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns."

Next came her attempt to share the knowledge she's learned with the graduating "Class of '97." In the column she shares one piece of advice she is sure about—“wear sunscreen”—and a litany of wisdom that she admits “has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.”

Among Schmich’s observations is that we should remain close to our siblings, appreciate our youth and never be reckless with other people’s hearts.

The title of her piece suggests it would never be embraced by her target audience. But in a strange twist of fate, it would become a pop culture phenomenon that in the late ’90s was an inescapable part of youth culture.


Soon after the column’s publication, Australian film director Baz Luhrmann was working alongside Anton Monsted and Josh Abrahams on a remix to the 1991 song “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)," by Rozalla. The song had appeared in Luhrmann’s film “William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet.” During the sessions, Monsted received an email with Schmich's column, but it was attributed to writer Kurt Vonnegut.

Back in 1997, there was no social media so things went viral through a new technology called email.

The team thought a spoken-word version of the speech would go great over the song and reached out to Vonnegut for his approval. But after doing some early-era internet sleuthing, they discovered it was written by Schmich. Australian voiceover artist Lee Perry was given the task of doing the spoken-word vocals and his deadpan delivery would become iconic.

The original release opened with the line, "Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '97" but it was changed to “'99” on subsequent releases. The song would go on to be a major worldwide hit and imbue a generation with simple, but profound advice on how to live their lives.

Twenty-five years later, many of the lines in the song are still etched in the minds of countless people.

While Schmich's words are powerful, when set to music and played continuously on MTV, VH1 and the radio, they were hard to forget. The song also has an emotional heft and a wary sincerity to it that's mesmerizing. Some of the song’s greatest lines, “Do one thing every day that scares you,” “Don't be reckless with other people's hearts” and “The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself,” have come to be embedded in the culture.

In the beginning of her column, Schmich admits that her advice—besides the bit about the sunscreen—is purely anecdotal, but she was onto more than she knew. Research has backed up a lot of her advice and proves it's worth taking.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Research shows that the greatest opportunity for personal growth is to step outside of one’s comfort zone. Also, when exposed to our fears, we have the greatest chance of overcoming them.

“Exposure is hands down the most successful way to deal with phobias, anxiety disorders, and everyday fears of any sort,” says neuroscientist Philippe Goldin. “Simply repeatedly exposing ourselves to the thing we’re afraid of—ideally in a positive way—gradually brings down the physiologic fear response until it’s gone, or at least manageable.”

Further, when we stay in our comfort zone for too long we are prone to boredom and stagnation. According to Positive Psychology, what lies outside of our comfort zone is an amazing place called the growth zone.

“Don't waste your time on jealousy.”

Twenty-five years later, Schmich’s words mean more than ever. Because, as Moya Sarner wrote in The Guardian, we “live in the age of envy. Career envy, kitchen envy, children envy, food envy, upper arm envy, holiday envy.”

Ethan Kross, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, adds that we are constantly bombarded by “Photoshopped lives, and that exerts a toll on us the likes of which we have never experienced in the history of our species. And it is not particularly pleasant.”

Overcoming jealousy has less to do with ignoring what others have than appreciating what’s ours. Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness & Travel Editor at HuffPost, says that people who are free of jealousy “take stock of their blessings,” “don't seek approval from other people” or “compare themselves to others.”

They also probably spend a lot of time off Instagram.

​​“Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.”

Negativity bias is a real issue. We always remember insults more vividly than compliments because the human mind evolved to look for potential danger and to remember trauma to keep us safe. It's great in practice but terrible when reading the comment section on Facebook.

Schmich admits she has a problem with this because it’s hard-wired into human psychology. Hopefully, over the past 25 years, some of us have learned how to get it right and to ignore the haters.

“Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.”

Since Schmich’s column was first published there have been countless studies on how unrealistic beauty standards affect women and yes, they “make you feel ugly.”

Dr. Laura Choate wrote in Psychology Today that these impossible beauty standards make girls think they should be focused on having the “perfect physique” and “believe something is wrong with them if they are somehow unable to reach this goal.”

Problems with body image are related to a host of problems including low self-esteem, depression, excessive dieting and eating disorders.

“Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.”

A study published by NPR found that during middle age (Gen X, I’m looking at you) and older, indicators of well-being—mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction—are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.

“You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.”

If you remember when “The Sunscreen Song” was a hit back in the late ’90s then you probably have warm feelings of nostalgia for those times. But as Schmich points out, we always look at the past through rose-colored glasses. Psychologists call this “rosy retrospection” and it’s the reason why some people think that America should be made “great again” or that the ’90s was the greatest decade ever.

The ’90s may or may not have been the greatest decade ever, but it must have been a pretty cool time if a massive pop hit was simply someone sharing practical life advice young people should pay attention to and, low and behold, they did.

Oh yeah, summer is coming up. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

There was a time when every other girl was named Ashley. That time has ended.

As we know, baby name trends are constantly changing. One generation’s Barbara is another generation’s Bethany. But it doesn’t make it any less odd when you suddenly realize that your very own name has suddenly made it into the “old and unhip” pile. And for many of us 80s babies…that time is now.

In a now-viral TikTok post, baby name consultant Colleen Slagen went through the top 100 girl names from 1986 to find which ones “did not age well” and were no longer ranked top 1,000 today. Such a descent from popularity would mark them as what she calls “timestamp names.”

Spoiler alert: what might be even more surprising than the names now considered old school are the names that are still going strong.


The first name that Slagen says is “officially out” is Heather. That’s right, not even cult movie fame could help it keep its ranking.

via GIPHY

Other extinct names include Erica, Courtney, Lindsay, Tara, Crystal, Shannon, Brandy and Dana. Tiffany, Brittany and Casey are also heading very much in that direction.

“My name is Brandy. The Gen Z hostess at Olive Garden told me that she’d never heard my name before and it was so unique,” one viewer wrote.

However, Andrea ranks “surprisingly high,” and Jessica, Ashley and Stephanie have survived…so far.

Gobsmacked, one person asked “How is Stephanie still in there? I don’t think I’ve met a Stephanie younger than myself at 34.”

But the biggest holdout still belongs to Jennifer. “She was a top 100 name all the way up until 2008. Round of applause for Jennifer,” Slagen says in the clip.

@namingbebe Sorry Lindsay, Heather, and Courtney. #babynames #nametok #nameconsultant #girlnames #80skid #1986 #nametrend ♬ original sound - Colleen

If your name has found its way into relic of a bygone era status, fret not. Slagen, whose name also ranks out of the top 1000, assures it just means “we are creatures of the 80's.”

Of course, while we still have baby names that become incredibly common for extended periods of time (looking at you, little Liam and Olivia), the real contemporary trend is going for uniqueness. As an article in The Atlantic notes, for most of American history families tended to name their children after a previous family member, with the goal of blending in, rather than standing out. But now, things have changed.

Laura Wattenberg, the founder of Namerology, told the outlet that “Parents are thinking about naming kids more like how companies think about naming products, which is a kind of competitive marketplace where you need to be able to get attention to succeed.”

But again, even with a keen eye on individualism, patterns pop up. “The same thing we see in fashion trend cycles, we see in names,” Jessie Paquette, another professional baby namer, told Vox. “We’re seeing Eleanor, Maude, Edith—cool-girl grandma names.”

So who knows…give it time (or maybe just a pop song) and one of these 80s names could make a comeback.

Photo from YouTube video.

It’s time to get out flexed.

When a cocky young man started showing off his muscles for the "Flex Cam" at a Philadelphia Soul arena football game, he got more than he bargained for after showing off his physique to a couple of women sitting behind him.

When the camera made its way back around, he was instantly upstaged by the superior muscles of one of the ladies he had tried to impress.


He had no choice but to sink sadly into his seat while the stronger woman flexed over his head.

PHILADELPHIA SOUL FLEX CAM SURPISE

This article originally appeared on 05.30.19

Joy

NICU nurse adopts 14-year-old patient who delivered triplets alone

“I knew it would be impossible to find a foster home that would take all four of them. No one was going to take a teen mom and her preemie triplets.”

NICU nurse adopts teen with three babies.

Having your first baby is a scary experience. Everything is new—you've quite literally never done this before—not to mention an entire human is going to be removed from your body one way or another. Childbirth, no matter how your baby leaves your body, is not for the weak. But imagine giving birth alone to not just one baby, but three, all at the same time. Then imagine doing that feat at the age of 14.

Shariya Small experienced that scenario in a hospital in Indiana, and her nurse Katrina Mullen took note. Small's babies were premature, born at just 26 weeks, when the average gestation for triplets is 33 weeks, according to ReproductiveFacts.org. Due to their early birth, the babies, Serenitee, Samari and Sarayah, had to stay in the NICU at Community Hospital North in Indianapolis for more than five months, according to Today.com.

During their time in the NICU, Mullen noticed the young mom visited her babies alone, not appearing to have much of a support system. “She’d be there alone for days at a time sitting at her babies’ bedside,” Mullen told Today.com.


The pair got to know each other over the months that the babies were in the hospital, but Small continued to be reluctant to open up about her family life. That changed after she found out that Mullen had her first child at 16 and had given it up for adoption. Their experiences bonded the two moms, and Mullen began helping to care for the babies and Small by giving her advice and showing her how to properly care for the infants.

Eventually, Mullen gave Small her phone number before the babies were discharged from the hospital. It quickly became apparent that Small did not have a support system, as she called Mullen often asking for advice. Out of concern, the nurse went to visit Small an hour away, where she was living with a family member.

The condition of the home was concerning enough, but Mullen became even more worried when she saw how thin Small's son Samari was. It turns out he had to be admitted to the hospital, which prompted a visit from Child Protective Services, who determined that Small and her three infants would need to enter foster care. She gave the social worker Mullen's information and things began to fall into place.

Listen to Small and Mullen explain their unique story below:

This article originally appeared on 4.10.23

Identity

My wife surprised her coworkers when she came out as trans. Then they surprised her.

She was ready for one reaction but was greeted with a beautiful response.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Zoe comes out to her coworkers.


Society, pay attention. This is important.

My wife, Zoe, is transgender. She came out to us — the kids and me — last summer and then slowly spread her beautiful feminine wings with extended family, friends, and neighbors.

A little coming out here, a little coming out there — you know how it is.


It's been a slow, often challenging process of telling people something so personal and scary, but pretty much everyone has been amazing.

However, she dreaded coming out at the office.

She works at a large technology company, managing a team of software developers in a predominantly male office environment. She's known many of her co-workers and employees for 15 or so years. They have called her "he" and "him" and "Mr." for a very long time. How would they handle the change?

While we have laws in place in Ontario, Canada, to protect the rights of transgender employees, it does not shield them from awkwardness, quiet judgment, or loss of workplace friendships. Your workplace may not become outright hostile, but it can sometimes become a difficult place to go to every day because people only tolerate you rather than fully accept you.

But this transition needed to happen, and so Zoe carefully crafted a coming out email and sent it to everyone she works with.

The support was immediately apparent; she received about 75 incredibly kind responses from coworkers, both local and international.

She then took one week off, followed by a week where she worked solely from home. It was only last Monday when she finally went back to the office.

First day back at work! I asked if I could take a "first day of school" type picture with her lunchbox. She said no. Spoilsport.

Despite knowing how nice her colleagues are and having read so many positive responses to her email, she was understandably still nervous.

Hell, I was nervous. I made her promise to text me 80 billion times with updates and was more than prepared to go down there with my advocacy pants on if I needed to (I might be a tad overprotective).

And that's when her office pals decided to show the rest of us how to do it right.

She got in and found that a couple of them had decorated her cubicle to surprise her:

LGBTQ, coming out, work

Her cubicle decorated with butterflies.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

Butterflies! Streamers! Rainbows! OMG!

And made sure her new name was prominently displayed in a few locations:

empathy, employment, understanding

Zoe written on the board.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

They got her a beautiful lily with a "Welcome, Zoe!" card:

coworkers, mental health, community

Welcome lily and card

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

And this tearjerker quote was waiting for her on her desk:

Oscar Wilde, job, employment

A quote from Oscar Wilde.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

To top it all off, a 10 a.m. "meeting" she was scheduled to attend was actually a coming out party to welcome her back to work as her true self — complete with coffee and cupcakes and handshakes and hugs.

acceptance, friendship, relationships

Coming out party with cupcakes.

All photos by Amanda Jette, used with permission.

(I stole one, and it was delicious.)

NO, I'M NOT CRYING. YOU'RE CRYING.

I did go to my wife's office that day. But instead of having my advocacy pants on, I had my hugging arms ready and some mascara in my purse in case I cried it off while thanking everyone.

I wish we lived in a world where it was no big deal to come out.

Sadly, that is not the case for many LGBTQ people. We live in a world of bathroom bills and "religious freedom" laws that directly target the members of our community. We live in a world where my family gets threats for daring to speak out for trans rights. We live in a world where we can't travel to certain locations for fear of discrimination — or worse.

So when I see good stuff happening — especially when it takes place right on our doorstep — I'm going to share it far and wide. Let's normalize this stuff. Let's make celebrating diversity our everyday thing rather than hating or fearing it.

Chill out, haters. Take a load off with us.

It's a lot of energy to judge people, you know. It's way more fun to celebrate and support them for who they are.

Besides, we have cupcakes.


This article originally appeared on 04.08.16.

Family

A letter to the woman who told me to stay in my daughter's life after seeing my skin.

'I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men like me who love fatherhood.'

Doyin Richards

Dad and daughters take a walk through Disneyland.

True
Fathers Everywhere

To a stranger I met at a coffee shop a few years ago who introduced me to what my life as a parent would be like:

My "welcome to black fatherhood moment" happened five years ago, and I remember it like it happened yesterday.

I doubt you'll remember it, though — so let me refresh your memory.



It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Los Angeles in 2011, and I decided to walk my then 3-month-old daughter to the corner Starbucks. That's when I met you — a stylish older white woman who happened to be ahead of me in line.

You were very friendly and offered up many compliments about how cute my daughter was, and I agreed wholeheartedly with you. She's cute.

But after you picked up your drink, you delivered this parting shot:

"No offense, but it's not often that I see black guys out with their kids, but it's such a wonderful thing," she said. "No matter what happens, I hope you stay involved in her life."

And then you put on your designer sunglasses and left.

Meanwhile, I was like...

celebrity, racism, challenges, stigmas

That was unexpected.

GIF from "Live with Kelly and Michael."

Here's the thing: I'm not angry with you, but I want you to understand the impact you had on my life.

Do I think you're a mean-spirited racist? No, I don't. Actually, I bet you're a really nice lady.

But let's be real for a second: Your view on black dads was tough for me to stomach, and I want you to know a few things about what it's really like to be me.

1. I want you to know that we have challenges that other dads don't experience.

I know what you're thinking: "Oh boy — let me brace myself while he 'blacksplains' how hard his life is while shaming me for ignoring my white privilege."

But that would be missing the point. We all have our challenges in life, and I'm not about to bring a big bottle of whine to a pity party.

Instead, as you probably know, today's dads are trying to shed the stigma of being clueless buffoons.

nurture, unicorn, mainstream media

Kid, you're gonna love this! Wheeeee ... uh oh.

Image from Giphy.

But black dads have an additional obstacle to hurdle in that we're often seen as completely disinterested in fatherhood. Trust me, it gets old when people automatically assume you're not good at something because of the color of your skin.

Our encounter was the first of many examples of this that I've witnessed, directly or indirectly, in my five and a half years of fatherhood, and I'm sure there will be more to come.

2. I want you to know that I'm not a shiny unicorn. There are plenty of black men just like me who love fatherhood.

During the months that followed our brief meeting, I felt a need to prove that you — a complete stranger — were wrong. I needed to prove there were plenty of black men just like me who loved being dads.

I knew a lot of these great men personally: My dad, my two brothers, and many others embraced fatherhood. But could any data back up how much black dads embraced fatherhood? Because the examples in mainstream media were few and far between.

Thankfully, the answer is yes.

A few years after I met you, a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 70% of black dads are likely to engage in common child-rearing activities such as diaper changing, bathing, toilet training, etc., on a daily basis. That's a higher percentage than white or Hispanic fathers.

Full stop.

This isn't about black dads being "the best" because parenthood isn't a competition. It's about showing that we're not even remotely as bad as society makes us out to be.

And outside of the CDC study, I saw firsthand how hands-on black dads are when I was thrust into the public eye, too, because a lot of them reached out to me to tell their stories.

We nurture our kids.

dads, social norms, ethnicity, privilege

Getting close to the twins.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

We're affectionate with our kids.

fatherhood, children, family, parenting

Love is universal.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

And we do whatever our kids need us to do.

equality, community, gender roles

Dad takes a deserved nap.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

And none of that should come as a surprise to anyone.

3. I want you to know that I believe you meant well when you praised me for being involved in my daughter's life, but that's what I'm programmed to do.

Disneyland, fathers, daughters, ethnicity

Princess dresses at Disneyland? You bet.

Photo taken from the Daddy Doin' Work Instagram feed and used with permission.

I will always be there for her and her baby sister.

Even though I just described how black dads are different from many dads, I hope the takeaway you have from this is that we have a lot of similarities, too.

Please don't fall into the trap of saying that you want to live in a colorblind world because it makes it harder to identify with inequality when it happens. Instead, I hope you can recognize that we have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as other parents, but the roads we travel may not be the same.

And no, I don't want an apology.

But I hope when you pick up your next latte and see a dad who looks like me that you'll smile knowing he's the rule rather than the exception.


This article originally appeared on 06.15.16