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'What's not to love?' This 'Orange Is the New Black' star is what self-acceptance looks like.

Before "Orange Is the New Black" or her stand-up comedy career, DeLaria struggled like so many others.

'What's not to love?' This 'Orange Is the New Black' star is what self-acceptance looks like.

Sometimes, coming to terms with yourself can be a lifelong process.

That's the message Lea DeLaria puts out in a recent video she did for StyleLikeU.

You probably best know DeLaria as "Big Boo," Litchfield Penitentiary's resident confident butch lesbian on the Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black." And while her on-screen persona aligns in a number of ways with her own life, it wasn't always that way.


GIF from "Orange Is the New Black."

The video begins with DeLaria explaining what it is she strives for in life: self-acceptance.

Fans of stand-up comedy might remember DeLaria as the first openly gay comedian to appear on a late-night talk show — a feat accomplished in 1993 on "The Arsenio Hall Show."

"It's hip to be queer, and I'm a bi-i-i-i-ig dyke!" she famously announced to her TV audience.

"I hated myself for not being 'normal.' At that time, [being gay] was still considered a mental disease."

Still, behind that bravado was someone desperate to debunk myths about what it's like being a butch lesbian.

All remaining GIFs via StyleLikeU.

Like many, DeLaria struggled coming to terms with her own identity and coming out to others.

She touches on her path to stand-up comedy, which followed a stint as a carpenter.

"Stand-up comedy in those days was a big activist tool, so that's what I started doing," she says. "I'm very grateful for that because I probably would have, you know, put a gun in my mouth if I didn't have that. ... I think, personally, my coming out experience was very, very difficult ... because I thought I was the only one."

Afraid of rejection, she didn't come out to her parents until she was 28. To her surprise, they accepted her.

When she eventually came out to her parents, her father had no idea. "Let me just say to that, 'Look at me,'" she jokes. Her parents' acceptance was made a bit easier by her career success (she guest starred on an episode of "Matlock" around that time).

"I hated myself for not being 'normal.' At that time, [being gay] was still considered a mental disease."

Introspection didn't end with her sexuality. There was another issue to tackle: accepting her weight.

Working in the entertainment industry, she was hit with a lot of the sexist double standards around appearance and weight.

"Men can weigh any f*cking weight they want. They can be any weight they want. No one gives a sh*t about it."

But when it comes to women? Women are constantly sexualized and told their value hinges on how attractive men find them. But DeLaria isn't having it. "There's nothing wrong with [being fat]. It's that simple."

According to her own words, she's not beautiful. She prefers "handsome" — thank you very much.

Earlier this year, she got engaged to her longtime girlfriend, fashion editor Chelsea Fairless.

DeLaria bristles at the question, "When do you feel the most beautiful?" replying, "I never think of myself as 'beautiful,' so that's a very strange word to apply to me, I think."

"I'm more of a handsome person. When my fiancée looks at me with this look in her eye, and I can see that she's completely and utterly in love with me, she makes me feel really handsome. Even when she's mad, I can still see it in her eyes."

You can watch the complete interview below.

Just an FYI, it contains some explicit and NSFW language.

RODNAE Productions via Pexels
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The past year has changed the way a lot of people see the world and brought the importance of global change to the forefront. However, even social impact entrepreneurs have had to adapt to the changing circumstances brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

"The first barrier is lack of funding. COVID-19 has deeply impacted many of our supporters, and we presume it will continue to do so. Current market volatility has caused many of our supporters to scale back or withdraw their support altogether," said Brisa de Angulo, co-founder of A Breeze of Hope Foundation, a non-profit that prevents childhood sexual violence in Bolivia and winner of the 2020 Elevate Prize.

To help social entrepreneurs scale their impact for the second year in a row, The Elevate Prize is awarding $5 million to 10 innovators, activists, and problem–solvers who are making a difference in their communities every day.

"We want to see extraordinary people leading high-impact projects that are elevating opportunities for all people, elevating issues and their solutions, or elevating understanding of and between people," The Elevate Prize website states.

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize is dedicated to giving unsung social entrepreneurs the necessary resources to scale their impact and to ultimately help inspire and awaken the hero in all of us.

"The Elevate Prize remains committed to finding a radically diverse group of innovative problem solvers and investing unconventional and personalized resources that bring greater visibility to them as leaders and the vital work they do. We make good famous," said Carolina García Jayaram, executive director, Elevate Prize Foundation.

The application process will take place in two phases. Applicants have till May 5 for Phase 1, which will include a short written application. A select number of those applicants will then be chosen for Phase 2, which includes a more robust set of questions later this summer. Ten winners will be announced in October 2021.

In addition to money, winners will also receive support from The Elevate Prize to help amplify their mission, achieve their goals, and receive mentorship and industry connections.

Last year, 1,297 candidates applied for the prize.

The 10 winners include Simprints, a UK-based nonprofit implementing biometric solutions to give people in the developing world hope and access to a better healthcare system; ReThink, a patented, innovative app that detects offensive messages and gives users a chance to reconsider posting them; and Guitars Over Guns, an organization bridging the opportunity gap for youth from vulnerable communities through transformational access to music, connectivity, and self-empowerment.

You can learn more about last year's winners, here.

If you know of someone or you yourself are ready to scale your impact, apply here today.

Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I'm a bit of a pen snob. Even if I'm just making a list, I look for a pen that grips well, flows well, doesn't put too much or too little ink into the paper, is responsive-but-not-too-responsive to pressure, and doesn't suddenly stop working mid-stroke.

In other words, the average cheap ballpoint pen is out. (See? Snob.)

However, Oscar Ukono is making me reevaluate my pen snobbery. Because while I'm over here turning up my nose at the basic Bic, he's using them to create things like this:

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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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