This Target ad totally nails what it means to be an athlete. And yeah, it's a big deal.

An athlete is anyone who moves their body for the fun and thrill of moving it, regardless of size or ability.

Target's latest ad gets that in a major way.

The latest campaign for the company's activewear line, C9 Champion, showcases badass athletes kicking butt at any age and size and in any activity or discipline. These are real people with real bodies we need to see more of.


There's a black man doing yoga on a football field. And why shouldn't there be? Go 'head on, brother.

All GIFs via Target/YouTube.

A young kid shreds on a skateboard, having the time of their life. See you in the X Games, kiddo!

A woman with a disability zips up a rope, making a hard feat look effortless. You're killing it!

And teen ballerina Lizzy Howell even makes an appearance, doing dazzling pirouettes. Rock it, girl!

These athletes aren't the exceptions; they're the rule.

No matter your size, shape, ability, or activity, there is no wrong way to be an athlete.

It doesn't matter what your middle-school P.E. teacher said or what runs through your head while you're at the gym. You may not get paid for what you do or even be especially good at it. But if it makes your heart happy and keeps you moving, congratulations, you're an athlete.

Seeing people of different abilities, body types, sizes, backgrounds and ages celebrate their bodies and strength is empowering and affirming.

Actor Riz Ahmed said it perfectly in his lecture on diversity and representation at British Parliament: "Every time you see yourself in a magazine, on a billboard, TV, film — it’s a message that you matter, you’re part of the national story, that you’re valued. You feel represented."

Real representation and visibility connect us to people who aren't like us and challenge our expectations of what different bodies can do. Some people may not think of black men as graceful or lithe or even recognize that plus-size ballerinas exist, let alone shine.

Target's ad is proof that even 40 seconds of representation can change minds. But we need more. Imagine what a blockbuster movie or a slate of new children's TV shows could do?

Image via Target/YouTube.

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Andy Grammer, the pop singer and songwriter behind feel-good tunes like "Keep Your Head Up," "Back Home," and "Don't Give Up on Me," has a new album out—and it is seriously fabulous. Titled simply "Naive," Grammer says it's "all about how seeing the good in todays world can feel like a rebellious act."

"I wrote this album for the light bringers," Grammer shared on Facebook. "The people who choose to see the good even in the overwhelming chaos of the bad. The smilers who fight brick by brick to build an authentic smile everyday, even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. For those who have been marginalized as 'sweet' or 'cute' or 'less powerful' for being overly positive. To me optimism is a war to be fought, possibly the most important one. If I am speaking to you and you are relating to it then know I made this album for you. You are my tribe. I love you and I hope it serves you. Don't let the world turn down your shine, we all so badly need it."

Reading that, it's easy to think maybe he really is naive, but Grammer's positivity isn't due to nothing difficult ever happening in his life. His mom, Kathy, died of breast cancer when Grammer was 25. He and his mother were very close, and her life and death had a huge impact on him.

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Culture
via Stratford Festival / Twitter

Service dogs are invaluable to their owners because they are able to help in so many different ways.

They're trained to retrieve dropped Items, open and close doors, help their owners remove their clothes, transport medications, navigate busy areas such as airports, provide visual assistance, and even give psychological help.

The service dog trainers at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs in Canada want those who require service dogs to live the fullest life possible, so they're training dogs on how to attend a theatrical performance.

The adorable photos of the dogs made their way to social media where they quickly went viral.

On August 15, a dozen dogs from Golden Retrievers to poodles, were treated to a performance of "Billy Elliott" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada. This was a special "relaxed performance" featuring quieter sound effects and lighting, designed for those with sensory issues.

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"It's important to prepare the dogs for any activity the handler may like to attend," Laura Mackenzie, owner and head trainer at K-9 Country Inn Working Service Dogs, told CBC.

"The theater gives us the opportunity to expose the dogs to different stimuli such as lights, loud noises, and movement of varying degrees," she continued. "The dogs must remain relaxed in tight quarters for an extended period of time."

The dogs got to enjoy the show from their own seats and took a break with everyone else during intermission. They were able to familiarize themselves with the theater experience so they know how to navigate through crowds and fit into tight bathroom stalls.

via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter


via Stratford Festival / Twitter

"About a dozen dogs came to our relaxed performance, and they were all extremely well-behaved," says Stratford Festival spokesperson Ann Swerdfager. "I was in the lobby when they came in, then they took their seats, then got out of their seats at intermission and went back — all of the things we learn as humans when we start going to the theater."

RELATED: This sneaky guide dog is too pure for this world. A hilarious video proves it.

The dogs' great performance at the trial run means that people who require service animals can have the freedom to enjoy special experiences like going to the theater.

"It's wonderful that going to the theater is considered one of the things that you want to train a service dog for, rather than thinking that theater is out of reach for people who require a service animal, because it isn't," Swerdfager said.

The Stratford Festival runs through Nov. 10 and features productions of "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "The Neverending Story," "Othello," "Billy Elliot," "Little Shop of Horrors," "The Crucible" and more.

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