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Writer uses a bologna sandwich to illustrate the beauty battle women wage with themselves

When you wake up to Khloe Kardashian's unedited photo debacle making headlines, it's not hard to see why so many women have body and beauty complexes.

Even for those of us who roll our eyes at Kardashian drama, the struggle is real. Even when we know that the images on Instagram are filtered and edited to unrealistic perfection. Even when we understand that societal beauty standards are arbitrary and stupid. Even with the proliferation of body-positive messages that encourage us to love the skin we're in, most women I know wage some kind of internal daily battle over beauty.

If only it were as simple as embracing what we look like in our natural state. If we truly and fully did that, though, we'd be smelly and unkempt, hair matted, nails scraggly, and teeth rotting. There's a certain amount of grooming that's reasonable to expect in civilized society, but what's enough and what's too much? At what point does beautification become problematic? There's no definitive line.

Then there's "health and fitness," which is good on the one hand, but toxic on the other. I could write an entire book on the social politics of fat on women's bodies. Follow that up with the make-up, the hair coloring/curling/straightening/styling, the wrinkle creams, the injections, and gracious, I'm already feeling mixed up inside barely 200 words into talking about women and beauty.

Writer and video blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom described these internal struggles women experience perfectly in a Facebook post. Sharing a photo of herself biting into a bologna sandwich, Backstrom wrote:


"You want to understand a woman?

Let's start right here: smack dab in the middle of a romantic moment I shared with a fried bologna sandwich. This was five minutes ago, y'all.

It was, in a word: intense.

Soft white bread, a generous schmear of mayo, and more than a couple slices of homegrown tomatoes. My word. I felt like confessing to my husband, which is why you have this picture.

I texted it to Ian, with a joke that I might actually be cheating, because nothing satisfies a woman quite like a solid sammy, hot tots, and a little bit of dippin sauce.

You can argue all you want, but you'd be wrong.

Sandwich. Tots. Dipping Sauce.

That's all we need.

I was fully in the moment when I got a little *ping* from my Optavia coach. She wanted to know how I was doing on the program. "The program" being a thing I signed up for a few months ago when couldn't fit in my skinny jeans and was suddenly motivated to shed a few bologna sandwiches.

So, now I'm invested to the tune of hundreds of dollars, with two full boxes of powdered astronaut food sitting in my entryway closet because I don't care how delicious a powder brownie mix is, NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, competes with fried tots and dipping sauce.

Anyways, back to understanding a woman.

You need to understand:

I am fiercely committed to enjoying bologna sandwiches.

I am 100% committed to becoming the next Brooklyn Decker via overpriced crash diet space food.

And I am ALSO anti-diet culture and will probably post a picture of myself weighing 200 pounds telling everyone on this page to LOVE THEMSELVES AS THEY ARE because, DAMMIT you are beautiful!

And you know what the crazy part is?

I am 100%, full-hearted, unabashedly all three opposing people at once.

The woman eating the bologna sandwich.

The woman who says "screw diet culture".

And the woman who signs up for random crash diets when I want to fit into a fashionable dress for a family wedding.

If you want to understand a woman, you have to understand this conflict.

I want to love myself as I am.

I want to enjoy life without reservation.

And I want to be beautiful by society's standards.

And I understand that none of these things agree or make any damn sense, and it drives me crazy, and makes me feel like a hypocrite, and makes me rage at the system, and makes me order overpriced powdered brownies, and makes me binge on bologna sandwiches, and makes me go to bed feeling like I should've done it better because if I was just

a little more disciplined

a little bit thinner

a little more consistent

a little more wild

a little more free

a little more original

but also a little more like the standard

then...maybe THEN, I would be an ideal woman.

And maybe I already am. I certainly believe that my friends are, and they enjoy bologna sandwiches.

But I wouldn't know. Because I look to the right and look to the left and all I see are things society thinks I should improve.

And it messes me up and confuses my brain and it drives me to space food and fried bologna sandwiches.

And that, my friends, is what it is to be a woman."

Seriously. She nails it.

It's not that men can't have this same kind of internal conflict; I'm sure some men are torn between wanting a burger and fries and embracing their dad bod, while also coveting Lenny Kravitz's abs. But for women, there are just so many elements for us to grapple with. We want to feel beautiful, but we don't want to conform to stupid societal beauty standards. We want to be in shape, but we want to love our bodies just as they are. We want to feel sexy, but we don't want to be sexualized. We slip down beauty standard rabbit holes—from hair to skin to weight to eyebrows—and we roll our eyes all the way down while also taking notes.

It's a confusing struggle, but for so many women, it's very real. Thank you, Mary Katherine, for keeping it real.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

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.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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