This mom is recognizing badass women in the most colorful way possible.

Michelle Villemaire is a mom living in Los Angeles who wants to teach her two daughters about women's history.

Sure, she could just crack open a text book or conduct a few Google searches. But that's not how Michelle rolls. She's more...well, original in her approach. 

Michelle is a mom on a colorful mission. All photos from Michelle Villemaire, and used with permission.


Both of her daughters love art, so she decided to use it as a teaching tool to reference strong women of the past. 

And that's how she came up with yarn bombing.


Yarn bombing means placing colorful yarn creations on park benches, parking meters, and trees throughout the city. But it's about more than just decoration.

Each yarn bomb also carries an inspirational quotes recognizing great women throughout history.

One of many yarn bombs in Michelle's community.

Her girls are completely onboard with the idea. 

"My daughters love it," Michelle told Upworthy. "They think it's so beautiful and magical, but most importantly they love the message behind it."

Michelle's 8-year old daughter is excited to help out.

And the community? They're loving it too.


"I've received a ton of compliments and a lot of people braved Los Angeles rush hour traffic just to see the yarn bombs in my neighborhood," She said. "If you live here, you know there's no bigger compliment than that."

And with that, Michelle and her team of 15 volunteers took to the streets to spread good yarn vibes everywhere. 

Check out a few of her favorite bombs (and women). 

Keep in mind, these designs aren't meant to resemble the women they represent in any way. 

Eugenie Clark 1922-2015

Clark was an Icthyologist (a scientist who studies fish) popularly known as “The Shark Lady." She was a pioneer in scuba diving for research purposes and used her fame to promote marine conservation.

This particular yarn bomb was created by Karyn Newbill Helmig, a high school marine biology teacher. And yes, it's a shark — not a bird.

Yuri Kochiyama 1921-2014

Kochiyama was a human rights activist who spent three years in a Japanese internment camp during WWII.

“I didn't wake up and decide to become an activist. But you couldn't help notice the inequities, the injustices. It was all around you.”  - Yuri Kochiyama

Rosa Parks 1913-2005

On December 1, 1955, Parks, An African-American woman, refused to give up her seat on a bus for a white passenger. 

Her act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. 

“Each person must live their life as a model for others.” - Rosa Parks

Amelia Earhart 1897-1937

Earhart was the first female to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. Sadly, she disappeared over the Pacific ocean during a flight in 1937. 

“Women, like men, should try to do the impossible. And when they fail, their failure should be a challenge to others.” - Amelia Earhart

Mae Jemison 1956 - present

Jemison was an physician and the first African-American woman to travel in space. If that wasn't enough, she also served in the Peace Corps, holds nine honorary degrees, and almost became a professional dancer. 

“People may see astronauts and because the majority are white males, they tend to think it has nothing to do with them. But it does.” - Mae Jemison

Helen Keller 1880-1968

Keller was an amazing social activist who was deaf and blind.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart.”  - Helen Keller

​The benefits of Michelle's work don't end with beautifying the city and teaching people about women's history.

For starters, knitting and crocheting is known to help reduce anxiety and enhance self-esteem. Michelle knows how important that is as she raises her two young daughters.

"I'm going to make sure my little ones create many handcrafts," she said. "Just so we have a nice reserve of self-esteem for high school."

And once the yarn creations are ready to be taken down? Michelle transforms them and donates them to women's homeless shelters in Los Angeles.

This yarn bomb project is touching people through the community. It even got the attention of the Mayor of Los Angeles.

People all over Los Angeles love Michelle's work. Even Mayor Eric Garcetti gave her some props by sharing her yarn bomb video on his Facebook page. 

Kudos to Michelle for bringing her community together and celebrating Women's History Month in an extremely colorful way. 

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan
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Growing up in Indonesia, Farwiza Farhan always loved the ocean. It's why she decided to study marine biology. But the more she learned, the more she realized that it wasn't enough to work in the ocean. She needed to protect it.

"I see the ocean ecosystem collapsing due to overfishing and climate change," she says. "I felt powerless and didn't know what to do [so] I decided to pursue my master's in environmental management."

This choice led her to work in environmental protection, and it was fate that brought her back home to the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia — one of the last places on earth where species such as tigers, orangutans, elephants and Sumatran rhinoceros still live in the wild today. It's also home to over 300 species of birds, eight of which are endemic to the region.

"When I first flew over the Leuser Ecosystem, I saw an intact landscape, a contiguous block of lush, diverse vegetation stretched through hills and valleys. The Leuser is truly a majestic landscape — one of a kind."

She fell in love. "I had my first orangutan encounter in the Leuser Ecosystem," she remembers. "As the baby orangutan swung from the branches, seemingly playing and having fun, the mother was observing us. I was moved by the experience."

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

"Over the years," she continues, "the encounters with wildlife, with people, and with the ecosystem itself compounded. My curiosity and interest towards nature have turned into a deep desire to protect this biodiversity."

So, she began working for a government agency tasked to protect it. After the agency dismantled for political reasons in the country, Farhan decided to create the HAkA Foundation.

"The goals [of HAkA] are to protect, conserve and restore the Leuser Ecosystem while at the same time catalyzing and enabling just economic prosperity for the region," she says.

"Wild areas and wild places are rare these days," she continues. "We think gold and diamonds are rare and therefore valuable assets, but wild places and forests, like the Leuser Ecosystems, are the kind of natural assets that essentially provide us with life-sustaining services."

"The rivers that flow through the forest of the Leuser Ecosystem are not too dissimilar to the blood that flows through our veins. It might sound extreme, but tell me — can anyone live without water?"

Courtesy of Farwiza Farhan

So far, HAkA has done a lot of work to protect the region. The organization played a key role in strengthening laws that bring the palm oil companies that burn forests to justice. In fact, their involvement led to an unprecedented, first-of-its-kind court decision that fined one company close to $26 million.

In addition, HAkA helped thwart destructive infrastructure plans that would have damaged critical habitat for the Sumatran elephants and rhinos. They're working to prevent mining destruction by helping communities develop alternative livelihoods that don't damage the forests. They've also trained hundreds of police and government rangers to monitor deforestation, helping to establish the first women ranger teams in the region.

"We have supported multiple villages to create local regulation on river and land protection, effectively empowering communities to regain ownership over their environment."

She is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year. The donation she receives as a nominee is being awarded to the Ecosystem Impact Foundation. The small local foundation is working to protect some of the last remaining habitats of the critically endangered leatherback turtle that lives on the west coast of Sumatra.

"The funds will help the organization keep their ranger employed so they can continue protecting the islands, endangered birds and sea turtle habitats," she says.

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen. Do you know an inspiring woman like Farwiza? Nominate her today!

Jennifer Lawrence

After being a Hollywood staple, Jennifer Lawrence vanished from the public eye following the release of "X-Men Dark Phoenix" in 2019.

Sure, the pandemic had something to do with that … in addition to the usual way our society treats Hollywood "it" girls, once it grows accustomed to the flavor. But in a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence opens up about some other reasons she chose to step away for a time.

Lawrence went from being a highly sought-after Oscar-winning actress to starring in less-than-successful films like "Passengers," "Mother!" and "Red Sparrow." The films were not only poorly received among critics, but commercially as well.

"I was not pumping out the quality that I should have," she told VF. "I just think everybody had gotten sick of me. I'd gotten sick of me. It had just gotten to a point where I couldn't do anything right. If I walked a red carpet, it was, 'Why didn't she run?'"

So then, why do it? As any workaholic would know, it's about so much more than money.

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Courtesy of Ms. Lopez
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Marcella Lopez didn't always want to be a teacher — but once she became one, she found her passion. That's why she's stayed in the profession for 23 years, spending the past 16 at her current school in Los Angeles, where she mostly teaches children of color.

"I wanted purpose, to give back, to live a life of public service, to light the spark in others to think critically and to be kind human beings," she says. "More importantly, I wanted my students to see themselves when they saw me, to believe they could do it too."

Ms. Lopez didn't encounter a teacher of color until college. "That moment was life-changing for me," she recalls. "It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin as a student. Always remembering how I felt in that college class many years ago has kept me grounded year after year."

It's also guided her teaching. Ms. Lopez says she always selects authors and characters that represent her students and celebrate other ethnicities so students can relate to what they read while also learning about other cultures.

"I want them to see themselves in the books they read, respect those that may not look like them and realize they may have lots in common with [other cultures] they read about," she says.

She also wants her students to have a different experience in school than she did.

When Ms. Lopez was in first grade, she "was speaking in Spanish to a new student, showing her where the restroom was when a staff member overheard our conversation and directed me to not speak in Spanish," she recalls. "In 'this school,' we only speak English," she remembers them saying. "From that day forward, I was made to feel less-than and embarrassed to speak the language of my family, my ancestors; the language I learned to speak first."

Part of her job, she says, is to find new ways to promote acceptance and inclusion in her classroom.

"The worldwide movement around social justice following the death of George Floyd amplified my duty as a teacher to learn how to discuss racial equity in a way that made sense to my little learners," she says. "It ignited me to help them see themselves in a positive light, to make our classroom family feel more inclusive, and make our classroom a safe place to have authentic conversations."

One way she did that was by raising money through DonorsChoose to purchase books and other materials for her classroom that feature diverse perspectives.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

The Allstate Foundation recently partnered with DonorsChoose to create a Racial Justice and Representation category to encourage teachers like Ms. Lopez to create projects that address racial equity in the classroom. To launch the category, The Allstate Foundation matched all donations to these projects for a total of $1.5 million. Together, they hope to drive awareness and funding to projects that bring diversity, inclusion, and identity-affirming learning materials into classrooms across the country. You can see current projects seeking funding here.

When Ms. Lopez wanted to incorporate inclusive coloring books into her lesson plans, The Allstate Foundation fully funded her project so she was able to purchase them.

"I'm a lifelong learner, striving to be my best version of myself and always working to inspire my little learners to do the same," she says. Each week, Ms. Lopez and the students would focus on a page in the book and discuss its message. And she plans to do the same again this school year.

"DonorsChoose has been a gamechanger for my students. Without the support of all the donors that come together on this platform, we wouldn't have a sliver of what I've been able to provide for my students, especially during the pandemic," she says.

"My passion is to continue striving to be excellent, and to continue to find ways to use literature as an anchor, depicting images that reflect my students," she says.

To help teachers like Ms. Lopez drive this important mission forward, donate on DonorsChoose.

Courtesy of Ms. Lopez

Looking for some good gift ideas that wont break the bank? We've got you covered with these five suggestions available at our very own Upworthy Market! You can feel good about your purchases, too. That's because every item you buy from the Upworthy Market directly supports the artisans who crafted it.


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Photo by Vanessa Garcia from Pexels

A professor's message to students has gone viral.

If you know any teachers, you probably know how utterly exhausted they all are, from preschools all the way up through college. Pandemic schooling has been rough, to say the least, and teachers have borne the brunt of the impact it's had on students.

Most teachers I've known have bent over backwards to help students succeed during this time, taking kids' mental and emotional health into consideration and extending the flexibility and grace we all could use. But teachers have their own mental and emotional needs, too, and at some point, something's gotta give.

A college student posted screenshots of a professor's message on Twitter with the comment "someone PLEASE check on my professor." It's simply incredible.

The message reads:

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