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Dannie "Dee" McMillan was in study hall when she received a text that would bring many of us to tears.

The Texas teen learned that another student had created a Twitter account calling her a "fat whale." The account featured an unflattering photo of her with an image of a whale over her face.

Funny? Not at all. Painful? Definitely.


Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

"At first I had no clue," McMillan explained of the Twitter account mocking her. "It started with weird looks in the hallways and people giggling behind my back. ... It was awful, the shame and embarrassment I felt. I left school right away and went home where I locked myself in my room and cried for hours. I stayed at home watching the [number of followers on the Twitter page] grow for three days."

Hurt by her classmates' cruelty, McMillan messaged Laura Lee, a plus-size model the 16-year-old looks up to, on Facebook.

A photo posted by Laura Lee 💋 (@misslauraleej) on


"I jokingly told [Lee] part of me wants to cry all day," McMillan explained to KCEN News of the conversation. "And the other part of me wants toget a T-shirt with a whale on it and wear it to school to show that they can't get to me. And, she was like 'oh, we should.'"

So McMillan did just that ... and she took it up a notch.

McMillan launched a fundraiser selling shirts to benefit the Save the Whales Foundation and got to spite the bullies who wronged her.

Her efforts have garnered more than $6,700 for the nonprofit, an educational initiative that promotes whale preservation.

The shirts read "Dee the Fat Whale Saves the Whales."

Photo courtesy of Dannie McMillan, used with permission.

What's more, McMillan also set up a GoFundMe page that has raised an additional $10,700 toward the nonprofit.

"It has given me a much larger sense of confidence," McMillan told Upworthy about the overwhelming support. "It makes me feel like I am making a difference."

Those shirts are pretty much amazing because McMillan's not only fighting back with a great cause, she's reclaiming the word "fat" while she's at it.

After all, the adjective "fat" shouldn't be an insult, as activist vlogger Meghan Tonjes has explained, "it’s all the things you attach to the word 'fat,'" like lazy, ugly, or unhygienic that are nothing more than inaccurate, degrading stereotypes. Fat is just an adjective, like skinny or tall or short, and to see McMillan take her experience being bullied for her weight and turning it into something that gives "fat" a positive association is an incredibly important message.

One glance at McMillan's fundraiser pages, and it's obvious her actions aren't just helping whales — they're inspiring people too.

Reading through the comments, it's hard not to smile:

Trey McMillan has his daughter's back too. "I just want her to be happy and successful in what she does and be proud of what she does," he told KCEN.

And as far as Lee? She's over the moon. "No joke, I'm a teary mess seeing this fabulous story," the model wrote on Facebook, noting she's beyond thrilled to know the story is making waves.

McMillan is a shining example of how to turn something awful into a beautiful thing.

"I can take someone's hate and use it to spread love," she wrote on her GoFundMe page. "Overcoming things like this is not easy, but people need to know that it is possible and they have support."

You can help support McMillan by purchasing a shirt here or donating to her GoFundMe here.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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Girls are bombarded with messages from a very young age telling them that they can’t, that is too big, this is too heavy, those are too much.

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Pop Culture

14 things that will remain fun no matter how old you get

Your inner child will thank you for doing at least one of these.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Swings can turn 80-year-olds into 8-year-olds in less that two seconds.

When we’re kids, fun comes so easily. You have coloring books and team sports and daily recess … so many opportunities to laugh, play and explore. As we get older, these activities get replaced by routine and responsibility (and yes, at times, survival). Adulthood, yuck.

Many of us want to have more fun, but making time for it still doesn’t come as easily as it did when we were kids—whether that’s because of guilt, a long list of other priorities or because we don’t feel it’s an age-appropriate thing to long for.

Luckily, we’ve come to realize that fun isn’t just a luxury of childhood, but really a vital aspect of living well—like reducing stress, balancing hormone levels and even improving relationships.

More and more people of all ages are letting their inner kids out to play, and the feelings are delightfully infectious.

You might be wanting to instill a little more childlike wonder into your own life, and not sure where to start. Never fear, the internet is here. Reddit user SetsunaSaigami asked people, “What always remains fun no matter how old you get?” People’s (surprisingly profound) answers were great reminders that no matter how complex our lives become, simple joy will always be important.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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