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These words were meant to break these women. But the opposite happened.

They are bravely putting the names they've been called out there for all to see.

These words were meant to break these women. But the opposite happened.

You probably see women like them all the time.

Self-assured. Making waves. Moving and shaking out in the world, trying to make a difference and succeeding. There are women doing this everywhere you turn. You might work with some of them. You might be one.

I bet you would never guess by looking at such strong women that they likely endured some really vile put-downs throughout the course of their lives (and probably still do).


You may not guess that they struggled with internalizing those names and phrases, taking years before they could sort out what was true about themselves from what wasn't — that somewhere in the recesses of their psyche, there is still a small voice asking them if they're sure these names aren't true.

Every day, these women wake up and decide to give the middle finger to that voice in their head and whoever first planted those nasty names.

This happens to men sometimes, too.

To be sure, there are men who endure bullying and terrible names, and also have to find internal fortitude to succeed in spite of someone trying to take them down a peg. That happens. It seems for women, however, that it's not a crapshoot of whether they'll endure such abuse but rather a foregone conclusion of a lifetime of it. A bonus gift that comes with the package, if you will.

Maranda Pleasant, founding editor of Mantra magazine, started collecting stories from women who are ready to put these names to rest.

When I asked her why her new ongoing feature "What Have You Been Called?" is so important to her, she put it perfectly:

"We can't heal things that we don't talk about. Shame and silence are so linked. We are rising together, and this is going to happen very very quickly. We're ready. The sisterhood is powerful."

Meet these five brave women (featured in this month's Mantra magazine, along with 13 more) willing to put the names they've been called out there for all to see and to officially label them what they are: bullsh*t.

(Trigger warning: These aren't nice words. Some are cruel and threatening. But they're important for people to see.)

1. Laura Dawn

All images property of Mantra magazine and used with permission.

Things she's been called/told: vain; you walk like a whore; aggressive; bitch; bossy; the Mozart of pushy; awfully smart for such a gorgeous girl; difficult; you work for me so I'll f*ck you if I want to.

She says:

"That's just a small sample. I used to take this kind of thing to heart. I used to ask myself, over and over again, what I could have done differently? Could I dress differently? Not wear makeup? What was it about ME that invited these kinds of comments? Street harassment and these kinds of digs, plus more subtle forms of intimidation, were just part of my life as a young woman who has worked across several industries.

Learning to speak up for myself, learning to advocate for myself and to set acceptable limits has been one of the most empowering aspects of aging as a woman... as an activist and filmmaker, spreading the message that how we treat women in a society actually affects the health of the entire society, is one of my top priorities."

2. Yulady Saluti

Things she's been called/told: good for nothing; lazy; ugly.

She says:

"These are words that rang in my ears many times over the course of my life. When I was younger, such invectives would really hurt me. Sometimes making me feel horrible about myself or how I looked. I actually questioned whether they were true, spending time examining my looks or actions for shreds of validity. I have learned two important lessons from this name calling. First, the only way another person can make me feel bad about myself is if I let them. Second, almost always, the person that called me the name didn’t really believe I was in fact ugly, lazy, or good for nothing. Generally the person projected the qualities in me that they least liked about themselves. Learn to love yourself unconditionally by loving others unconditionally."

3. Sara Agah

Things she's been called/told: brown cow; Miss Piggy; loud; flirty; impulsive; overly emotional.

She says:

"These are a few of the names that have stung since childhood. I wish I could tell you that I've risen above all of them, but truthfully, I'm still a work in progress. They are still empowering mantras for the woman I am today. Being called 'Brown Cow' in school for being Persian made me want to stand taller and proud of my heritage. Body shaming sucks and being called 'Miss Piggy' led me to question my body image. I still have times when I love my curvy body and times when I don't. ... I live life to the fullest. I laugh, play, and love hard and I'm not ashamed of any of it. I'm grateful that each of these words has given me the chance to reflect on my true self."

4. Maranda Pleasant

Things she's been called/told: cougar; f*cking bitch; difficult; worthless; too sexual; too direct; bossy cunt; domineering.

She says:

"I’ve lived my life believing labels, and carrying them like commands, living them out since I was a child. I was ridiculed for not having a father by other kids and beaten, leaving scars on my body and deep fear in my bones, by my caretaker. I carried the worthless label most of my life, attracting partners that would validate it. The importance of this piece was recognizing and embracing the words and beliefs that bring us shame, and taking them back, along with our power. They stopped owning me. This released me from a lifetime spent in shame."

5. Zoë Kors

Things she's been called/told: crazy; slut; too much; not enough; f*cking bitch; cunt.

She says:

"When people call me names, the sting is always accompanied by a certain satisfaction. It means I am doing a good job of waking them up. The only reason someone would feel the need to diminish me is if what I am presenting is powerful enough to threaten their sleepy complacency. And that is exactly why I do what I do, to shift paradigms. A wildly-expressed woman cannot be a good girl. The point is not to be liked, but to serve."

This happens to nearly every woman you see.

After seeing such horrible names met with unrelenting determination and grace, we can start talking about it and sorting out the vitriol that we might have internalized, too.

Later this month, Pleasant is plastering all 18 of the images from Mantra in over 200 locations around Paris. Shortly after, she plans to do the same in New York and Los Angeles. She wants women to have the experience of knowing that they aren't alone in being told some pretty nasty things about themselves. She's on a mission to heal the women of the world so we can keep moving forward to reach our individual and collective potential!

So let's start right now with ourselves. If you saw a piece of yourself in these images and stories, let's share this on Facebook and talk about the kinds of names we ourselves have been called. It's time to let them go.

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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