This dad knew exactly what to say when his son asked for a mermaid doll for his birthday.

"Now, how do you think a dad feels when his son wants to get this?"

That's the question YouTuber and proud dad Mikki Willis asked viewers, while holding a mermaid doll in a video posted online on Aug. 23, 2015, his son, Azai, trying not to smile in the background.


Some dads wouldn't be cool with their sons playing with Little Mermaid dolls or, you know, playing with dolls at all. But after a few chuckles, both Willis and Azai yell happily, "Yeah!"

Because this is great.

GIFs via Mikki Willis/YouTube.

Willis decided to support his son's decision to get whatever toy he wanted, without letting gender stereotyping get in the way. And — judging by the outpouring of support in the video's comments section — he's not alone in encouraging his son to like what he likes, stereotypes be damned.

The video — which Willis captured after a trip to the toy store for Azai to swap out one of his birthday presents — is gathering steam online. In just about two days, it's already garnered more than 236,000 views.

I'd say that's no coincidence, seeing as it touches on one very hot topic.

Gender stereotyping in toys is one issue making waves right now.

Just this month, retail giant Target announced it was phasing out boy-girl references throughout its stores in sections where "suggesting products by gender is unnecessary," such as toys, kids' bedding, and entertainment.

"There is no 'boy side' or 'girl side' to childhood," Melissa Atkins Wardy, a children's retail expert and business owner, told Upworthy in support of Target's decision. "Why would we tell a kid they can't like cars or pirates or fairies or pink? Go for it, kid."

Willis would agree — why limit what toys his son should and should not enjoy?

Willis explained that he wasn't at all surprised when Azai selected the mermaid toy.

"Many are asking me, 'How did you feel the moment Azai chose that doll?'" he wrote in the video's description. "The honest answer is, it didn't surprise me at all. Azai is equally fascinated by princesses and robots."

Check out the heartwarming video below:

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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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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