Tired of stereotypical girls' clothes, these women did something about it — then banded together.

You might remember this photo that went viral back in April:


Original photo by Jason Y. Evans, shared with permission in this Upworthy post.

It was being sold in New York University's campus bookstore. The boys' equivalent to the girls' "I hate my thighs" baby onesie was "I'm super." (I mean, really?! That's some pretty pointed messaging.) After the photo went viral, it was pulled from the shelves with an apology for the oversight.

Or maybe this one that went viral in 2013:



It was a T-shirt for girls that Children's Place was selling. There was no equivalent in the boys' section. After it was brought to the retailer's attention that it was pretty demeaning, they also pulled it from their store shelves. (Why it was printed in the first place remains a mystery.)

These are just a few incidents of extremely stereotypical girls' clothing. But it happens often enough, and a lot of girls' clothing is biased without being blatantly offensive.

Enter: a bunch of moms who were over it.

Done with it. They believe girls are — gasp — intelligent and capable and should be able to wear clothes that reflect their personalities without having to shop in the boys' section.

Even better, they want to give us clothing options to purchase for our girls that are done right, not just examples of what's gone wrong.

These moms have individually launched small businesses that create girls' clothing that allows girls to express who they are, whatever that may be.

And now, 10 of these small businesses have banded together to start a movement: #ClothesWithoutLimits.

"Over the past few years, multiple stories about kids clothing have gone viral," Rebecca Melsky, co-founder of Princess Awesome told me. "But they tend to focus on the negative. We wanted to let parents know there are more positive, more inclusive options out there for their children. We thought our voices would be louder together than they are alone."

Dress like a girl? Heck yeah!

"The awesome thing about working as a group is that it's shown all of us — and our customers — how many different ways there are to 'dress like a girl,'" Courtney Hartman, founder of Jessy & Jack and Free to Be Kids, shared with me.

The 10 companies that make up #ClothesWithoutILimits. Photo by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

Through the campaign, these women are hoping to not only bring attention to the negative impact that clothing with stereotypical messaging can have on girls, but more importantly, to show the positive impact that positive clothing can have.

The messages sure run counter to the ones that many mainstream retailers have offered — and they're exactly what our girls need.

This T-shirt, for example, is a nice (and totally opposite) option for girls who aren't so keen on acting like they're only good at shopping, dancing, and music — but not math, as with the Children's Place shirt:

T-shirt by Free to Be Kids. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

'Cause here's the thing: Messaging is important. And when our girls are indirectly being told from every angle, including their clothing, that they're incapable of certain things, it starts to wear on them.

Malorie Catchpole of buddingSTEM explains, "When girls don't see dinosaurs, space, and other science themes on their clothing, it tells them that things like science and engineering aren't for them."

Not sure messaging matters? Think again!

A study shared by the New York Times, for example, found that many elementary school teachers have unconscious biases about girls' math abilities as compared to boys' — and it affects how they interact with them:

"The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys' abilities and underestimated the girls', and that this had long-term effects on students' attitudes toward the subjects."

This isn't to place blame on teachers — we all have biases we don't realize about a variety of things. Instead, it's to point out those biases and create change. Because the study also "highlights how powerful a little encouragement can be for children," as the NYT notes.

And that's why clothing matters, too — clothing that lets girls express their interest in robots or dinosaurs or other science subjects, like this one:

T-shirt by Jessy & Jack. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

And this one:

T-shirt by Jill and Jack Kids. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

Clothing that reminds girls they can be into anything they find interesting, like this:

T-shirt by Princess Free Zone. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

Clothing that reminds girls they can actually be anything they want, like this:

T-shirt by Handsome in Pink. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

And clothing that lets girls express many parts of themselves, like this atomic shells dress — because nobody said clothing that's empowering to girls can't also be in a style that's "traditionally" for girls:

Dress by Princess Awesome. Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

And there's another message here — one that's less apparent but equally important: the strength of women banding together to empower our girls.

Many of these businesses seem to be in competition with one another, selling empowering girls' clothing. But that didn't stop the women from these 10 companies from joining forces and using their voices, which are louder and stronger as a collective, to get the message out there that clothes for girls shouldn't have limits.

Photo provided by #ClothesWithoutLimits, used with permission.

"This is an amazing group of like-minded women who care deeply about breaking down the gender stereotypes in kids' clothing today," buddingSTEM Co-Founder Jennifer Muhm told me.

"This is an amazing group of like-minded women who care deeply about breaking down the gender stereotypes in kids' clothing today."

"We want all kids to be able to find clothes that fit who they are and what they like, but we're small businesses who can't possibly offer every single option on our own. ... There is definitely room for more than one option for girls who prefer blue, outer space, or dinosaurs. We just want parents to know those options exist, so they can find the one that's right for their child."

"We are ten brands, but behind those brands are more than ten women, and we are all strong leaders and really passionate about what we're doing," added Gina Dobson, founder of Sunrise Girl.

We have to be really mindful of making sure everyone's voice is heard and everyone is happy. The great thing is that our relationships with each other developed organically as we discovered each other's brands, and we have a lot of mutual respect."

"Working with a big group has its challenges but we know we are stronger as a group, and that working together we can have more of a positive impact."

"If one person or company isn't happy with something, or we can't easily arrive at consensus, we pause, get on a group phone call and talk it out until everyone is satisfied with the solution. Working with a big group has its challenges but we know we are stronger as a group, and that working together we can have more of a positive impact."

How's that for the kind of message we want our girls to receive? We're stronger together and we can work alongside one another and be successful. We're in this together.

That's a message, in addition to awesome clothing, that we can all get behind.

Photo by Mike Marrah on Unsplash

The "Big 5" is an old term from the colonial era, denoting the five wild animals in Africa that were the most sought-after kills for trophy hunters. Killing those five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo—meant ultimate success in the big-game hunting world.

Now there's a "New Big 5," but instead of a barbaric goal for trophy hunters, it's a beautiful goal for wildlife photographers.

The initiative was created by British wildlife photographer Graeme Green with the goal of raising awareness about threats to the world's animals including habitat loss, poaching, illegal animal trade, and climate change. In a global call for votes, 50,000 wildlife lovers shared which animals they most wanted to photograph or see in photos. And the winners are:

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Photo by Mike Marrah on Unsplash

The "Big 5" is an old term from the colonial era, denoting the five wild animals in Africa that were the most sought-after kills for trophy hunters. Killing those five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo—meant ultimate success in the big-game hunting world.

Now there's a "New Big 5," but instead of a barbaric goal for trophy hunters, it's a beautiful goal for wildlife photographers.

The initiative was created by British wildlife photographer Graeme Green with the goal of raising awareness about threats to the world's animals including habitat loss, poaching, illegal animal trade, and climate change. In a global call for votes, 50,000 wildlife lovers shared which animals they most wanted to photograph or see in photos. And the winners are:

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."