Why these 2 athletes made hijabs part of their uniforms.

A hijab is a traditional head covering worn by many Muslim women all over the world.

In the Muslim faith, a hijab is worn to protect modesty, privacy, and morality. Many people think they're oppressive to women and a symbol of extremism, which is why the last time you saw one in the news was probably when France passed several laws restricting when and where women are allowed to wear them.

In reality, many Muslim women embrace the choice to wear hijabs (not to be confused with niqabs, which cover the face, or burkas, which cover the entire body) of their own free will.


A woman preparing hijabs for sale in Indonesia. Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images.

Do a little searching online, and you can find amazing tutorials showing all the different ways to style a hijab, fan-art illustrations of superheroes wearing hijabs, and other outspoken and successful Muslim women who embrace the hijab. One of them is Dalia Mogahed, who recently explained on "The Daily Show" why wearing a hijab doesn't mean she's oppressed, saying that women who wear hijabs "do it as an act of devotion, as a part of their faith. Not because anyone forces them but because it's how they believe they should be following their faith."

Two young women have been making news lately with their decisions to show the world that wearing a hijab is not only their right but an important part of their culture that they hold dear.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, a fencing champion from New Jersey, will soon make history when she becomes the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in hijab.

After earning a bronze medal at the Athens Fencing World Cup, Muhammad — who was already the first Muslim woman to compete in U.S. fencing — earned enough qualifying points to compete in this summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is currently second place in the U.S. national fencing team's point standings.

Muhammad (second from left) after winning the women's team sabre final in the 2014 World Fencing Championship in Kazan. Photo by Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images.

"I want to compete in the Olympics for the United States to prove that nothing should hinder anyone from reaching their goals — not race, religion or gender," she says in her USA fencing team bio. "I want to set an example that anything is possible with perseverance."

Muhammad is well aware of the lack of diversity in U.S. fencing. In fact, that's partly why she pursued the sport. Shortly after her fencing career at Duke University, she realized she could help push the sport forward.

"After I graduated from college, I saw there was a lack of minorities in the sport," Muhammad told Team USA. “I recognized that I had a skill set, so I started to pursue fencing full time. I felt that it was something the squad needed. There were barriers that needed to be broken in women’s saber.”

And Stephanie Kurlow, a 14-year-old dancer from Sydney, Australia, is aspiring to be the worlds first hijabi ballerina.

A dancer since age 2, Kurlow stopped practicing shortly after converting to Islam with her family when she was 8, according to the NY Daily News.

She felt self-conscious about wearing her hijab in ballet class and was frustrated to find there were no ballet studios that readily accepted Muslim women. She feared this would prevent her from achieving her dream of becoming a professional dancer.

Had such a fun photo shoot the other day!💙 #wedanceasone #dailytelegraph
A photo posted by sᴛᴇᴘʜᴀɴɪᴇ ᴋᴜʀʟᴏᴡ (@stephaniekurlow) on

So her mom decided to open up a performing arts studio that teaches ballet, martial arts, and aboriginal art classes for girls like Stephanie. There, Kurlow continued dancing and went on to win first place in a Muslim talent show as well as the Most Inspirational Young Star in Sydney’s Youth Talent Smash competition last year. All while wearing her hijab.

“[The hijab] is a part of who I am, and represents the beautiful religion that I love,” she told the NY Daily News. “If people have the right to dress down, then I have the right to dress up.”

Kurlow dreams of inspiring other women the way she was inspired and has started a fundraising page so that she may one day train full-time at ballet school and eventually open up her own school.

Both of these women are promoting diversity and acceptance by being who they are.

Ibtihaj Muhammad competing in 2011. Photo by Giusseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images.

Society often moves forward at a snail's pace. You need people who are willing to jump out in front and lead the way. Ibtihaj Muhammad and Stephanie Kurlow are leaders because they believe that the world gets better when everyone is included equally.

Whether it's politics, art, music, dancing, or an Olympic sport, there are talented and incredible people everywhere.

And they can wear whatever the hell they want.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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