To Mothers, From Your Perfect Fan

I'm not a mother, which grants me a viewing seat to the marvelous performance of motherhood. The downside is that this seat is too close to where the gossip is, where judgement happens and where the stares are shot. Judging is bad, but it is not the most dreadful bit: I think being vocal about the judgement is the tragedy, because not judging requires mindfulness and discipline that are hard to master instantly. Holding one's tongue however...

I think the problem in our society, besides being too vocal and intruding when it comes to people's lives, is that we don't give people the choice to live the life that they way, and of course, when it comes to mothers, the pressure is augmented and multiplied by 1000.

Don't pressure mothers; give them these 10 choices today.

1. The choice to work: If a mother wants to work just let her. It doesn't mean she is selfish or negligent or risking the well being of her children. The fact that she has a job doesn't make her any less caring, selfless or you know, a mother! Having a job should not start a debate about her financial situation, her relationship with her husband and whether her mom and mother-in-law are comfortable babysitting her children. You don't need to feel sorry she is not sleeping, or to examine her face looking for "AHA! Gotcha!" wrinkles.

2. The choice not to work: If a mother decides to dedicate most of her time to her family and children, let her, it doesn't mean she is silly, ignorant or lacks ambition. I know many exceptionally bright women who either decided to spend more time with their children, or felt having a job in addition to a family is too overwhelming they couldn't or didn't want to cope, and this is absolutely fine! Who are we to judge? If you are too worried about her lost potential, why don't you start not wasting your own potential gossiping and judging? Also, how can we ignore the unfathomable gifts motherhood gives the world in the form of well-mannered, well-raised and well-nurtured ladies and gentlemen? This requires hard work you know?

3. The choice to dress up: If she feels like looking good and dressing up, let her! (Yes, beauty and chirpiness are not always welcome.) Why criticize a good mood in the first place? Are you jealous? Or are you bitter? or do you have absolutely nothing else to look at and worry about? By feeling and looking good she is doing your eyes a favor, and again, I see no reason to assume her children were tantruming, pulling each others' hair, tearing up their clothes and screaming hysterically while throwing couches and plates around while she was calmly wearing her lipstick.

4. The choice to dress down: Sometimes though, her children would get sick, keeping her up most of the night, and she could catch the bug that had her kids down. Yet she will still need to keep up with adulthood and work. You know, the usual, 9-6 job in which the boss calls for a 30-minute meeting at five that starts at 5:30 and ends at seven to tell her she needs to submit something the next day for a client that he had forgotten to tell her about, and although he is sorry she still needs to have something ready by 10 am. Her dad called her twice that day asking her to help him fix something on his computer and while on the phone her mom mentioned that she misses her, she remembered she is supposed to buy a gift and visit the neighbor who has just given birth, but time is tight and the load is immense and she realllyyyy couldn't care less about you figuring out that the top she's wearing today is the same one you saw her wearing yesterday.

5. The choice to invest in her self development: It is not her education vs. her kids' and let's not get into the argument of "where does she find the time?!" Maybe, just maybe, she is better at managing her time than you are!

6. The choice to be lazy: Have you pursued every single thought and chased every single dream you had? Yes? Good on you! No? Then why should she?

7. The choice to rely on family for support: If family is helping her raising her children by babysitting them or cooking for them or driving them to after-school events, your approval is not required. Families love to help, and if they can't, they will sort it out. Your heart might be so big that it feels sorry for those adorable grandparents whose laughs and joys are tied to those hours they spend with their grandchildren feeling younger, feeling stronger, feeling meaningful and feeling hopeful, but you don't make sense.

8. The choice to do it all by herself: Whether she wants to or has to, the truth remains it is more work for her and her husband. The only thing you should do is to either offer help or encouragement.

9. The choice to have a partner who doesn't have a job: Although this is not entirely her decision, she gets blamed for it. Putting up with the misfortunes of her husband isn't a sin by the way, and even if it wasn't a misfortune, partners nowadays are evaluating and comparing the values of their jobs and deciding who should be the breadwinner and who should be the caregiver in newer and smarter ways.

10. The choice to have a partner who has a job: Well people don't ever criticize that, I just had to add it for semantics.

Teen With Cerebral Palsy Asks Ellen DeGeneres (And Her Dance Moves) To Prom

Asking famous singers and big-name celebs to prom isn't exactly new, though requesting the presence of a talk show host to the big dance might be a first.

Alirio Magana, a student at North Rockland High School in New York, created a promposal video asking Ellen DeGeneres to be his prom date. The 18-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, dressed up for the occasion and rocked a sparkly bow tie on a red carpet as the rest of the school danced around with pictures of Ellen’s face.

According to News12 Westchester, Alirio has had a crush on the comedian for years.

“I watch her every day at 4:00, and I really like her dancing,” he said.

Hopefully they'll get to hit the dance floor together at his prom in June.

H/T Seventeen

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10 Fun Ways to Boost Your Financial Fitness

In its most basic form, financial literacy is the ability to understand how money works -- but it's definitely not that simple. In order to know how to earn, manage, invest, and save money as an adult, you must first learn the basics when you're young. And your education shouldn't stop there either. Adults should continue to self-educate on financial topics like investing, saving, and effective money management. This is necessary to make smart financial choices, and to help prepare children for their future.

The responsibility of educating children about finances often falls on the parents because financial education isn't offered in the majority of U.S. schools and that lack of education shows. Over the course of a little over three years, the National Financial Educator's Council administered a national financial literacy test to 4,916 youth between the ages of 15 and 18, from more than 40 states in the United States. The average score was 60.08 percent. In any standard "classroom" 60.08 percent would be a failing grade.

Consider this: If you failed out of medical school, would you be equipped to perform surgical procedures? No. So why are we sending our children out in to the world without the tools they need to make responsible financial decisions -- some of the most important decisions they will make in their lives? Financial literacy and education is vital to achieve independence and ultimate prosperity in the real world.

According to Brad Pagano, Co-Founder and Managing Director of the San Diego Financial Literacy Center, "Education is the key. Education that is clear, concise, and culturally competent, focusing on the prevention of debt, the accumulation of assets, and how financial decisions made today will, and do, affect you tomorrow and in the future."

So what's the best way for parents to engage their kids and give them the knowledge they need? There are a plethora of free tools, information and resources available that are easy to digest by people of all ages and from all walks of life. The best tools and resources not only provide education, but also motivate you to learn. With this in mind, I spoke to a number of financial experts and some everyday people to compile the top ten ways that parents and kids can start to improve financial literacy today. This list has something on it for everyone, from the socialite to the perpetual student.

1. Book Worms. If you are the type of person that gains valuable insight and knowledge from reading books, there are many that can help improve your financial literacy. An Amazon search for personal finance books or browsing your local library will reveal a lot of choices and might be a bit overwhelming. If you're not sure which book is best for your needs, here are a few suggestions we received from various financial experts for both you and your child.


· Your Money or Your Life
· The Total Money Makeover
· The Richest Man in Babylon
· The Millionaire Next Door
· The Investment Answer
· Rich Dad, Poor Dad


· The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money
· Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday
· Bunny Money
· If You Made a Million
· The Monster Money Book
· Growing Money: A Complete Investing Guide for Kids

2. Comic Book Fanatic. If you or your child enjoys reading comics, there are a couple of great options that present financial knowledge in a comic book.

· Once Upon A Dime
· Avengers Saving the Day

3. Gamers. If you prefer interactive fun or you're just looking for ways to get your kids excited about financial literacy, games are a great option in our technology-driven world. There are plenty of fun games available for adults and kids alike to help improve financial literacy.

· Minyanland (Children & Families)
· Mad Money (Elementary School)
· Consumer Savvy (Middle & High School)
· Gen i Revolution (Middle & High School)
· Show Me the Future (Middle, High School & Young Adults)
· Grab Todd's Cash (High School & Adults)
· Financial Football (High School and Adults)
· Financial Soccer (High School & Adults)

2. Competitors. If setting goals and participating in competitions motivates you, it's surprisingly easy to combine that with your finances. Check out these financial fitness challenges:

· The Mint (Appropriate for Children & Teens)
· Feed the Pig 4-Week Financial Fitness Challenge
· lifecentsTM
· Money Management International's 30 Step Challenge

3. Socialite. If you love to socialize, one of the most important tips for you is to surround yourself with people who are great money managers. Ask them questions about their best practices, such as how they keep a budget, what strategies work best for saving money, their investment strategy, and more.

4. Professional Student. If you're always looking for an excuse to head back to school, why not take a continuing education course on financial literacy or personal financial management? Tiffany Wright, Founder of The Resourceful CEOTM, says, "These courses are often held in the evenings and provide hands-on experience, such as actually walking through balancing checkbooks or reading credit card statements." You can even check out a list of free finance courses provided by top universities through the online educational platform Coursera.

5. Resourceful. If you're the type of person who researches every purchase, put those skills to the test and use online resources to self-educate. Here are a few suggestions to get you started on your search for learning everything about finances.

· Investopedia
· Kiplinger
· The Motley Fool

6. Born Rebel. For those that always need to learn things the hard way, it's best not to do so when it comes to personal finance. Try living vicariously through someone else by reading about others' personal finance journeys. Here are some top money blogs that provide personal stories and finance tips.

· PTMoney
· AffordAnything
· WiseBread
· ModestMoney
· MoneyCrashers

7. On the Run. If you're always on the go, make the most of your commute, your workout, or errands and tune in to podcasts to help improve your financial literacy. Here's a few to get you started:

· The Clark Howard Show
· The Dave Ramsey Show
· Stacking Benjamins

8. Get Connected. Social media allows us to be more connected than ever, with people who have all sorts of valuable knowledge to share. Twitter in particular is a great platform for learning tips and tricks about personal finance. Just follow the experts.

· @ClarkHoward
· @jjeffrose
· @MoneyTalkMary
· @alphaconsumer
· @YoungFinances
· @JeanChatzky

With all of these free resources, tools, and information readily available, you and your family have a great opportunity to not only learn about smart financial choices, but to also start implementing them today. Choose the method that motivates you the most and get started. Remember, knowledge is power. Educating yourself will allow you to take control over your financial future!

Social Media Makes Us All Bullies, Say Monica Lewinsky And Jon Ronson

If anyone understands public shaming, it's Monica Lewinsky -- making her a perfect person to interview journalist and author Jon Ronson about his new book, "So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed."

A tendency to go to emotional extremes on social media contributes to public shaming today, Ronson told Lewinsky.

"It's like on social media we've set a stage for constant high dramas," Ronson said. "So, like, we either have to do something wonderful and heroic or something like, 'We have to shame this terrible person.'"

"I sort of think that's not how we are as human beings," Ronson added.

Now a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Lewinsky was publicly shamed nearly 20 years ago, long before the social-media era, for her affair with then-President Bill Clinton. Her experience is included in Ronson's book.

Another subject of the book is Justine Sacco, the former senior director of corporate communications at IAC, who was publicly shamed for a tweet she wrote in 2013: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

News outlets picked up the insensitive tweet, and Sacco was quickly fired. Ronson suggested that Sacco's treatment was unfair.

"We like to pretend that Justine Sacco's badly worded tweet is a clue to her inherent evil, but that's not true," Ronson said. "We know that's not true about people, but we've tricked ourselves into believing that's true."

Context is key, Lewinsky said.

"What's happened with the Internet is that we lose context for a story, but mainly we lose context for a person," she said. "This is someone's daughter. This is someone's sister. This is somebody that has a sense of humor that might be different from mine. This is someone who has a long range of life experiences, which inform how they themselves, view the world, or how they articulate themselves."

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Christina Hendricks Hasn’t Heard That One Big ‘Mad Men’ Theory

With "Mad Men" soon coming to a close, fans anxiously wonder how Matthew Weiner's period drama will end. Will Don finally fall to his demise, as some believe the opening credits forewarn? Will he become mysterious plane hijacker D.B. Cooper? What about that Megan Draper-as-Sharon Tate story line?

Each speculation is fun to consider, but another stands apart as the most engaging: "Mad Men" making way for "Mad Women." While Weiner has said he isn't preparing a spinoff, Bustle predicts that the "Mad Men" series finale could end with Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks) leaving Sterling Cooper & Partners to begin their own firm. Considering both woman have risen to positions of power in recent seasons, it seems plausible.

The Huffington Post caught up with Christina Hendricks while she was unveiling Jaguar's latest model, the aluminum 2016 XF sedan, in New York on Tuesday. Fans of "Mad Men" will remember the significant role the car company played in Season 5, when Joan became a partner.

Asked about "Mad Women," Hendricks said, "You're the first I'm hearing it from. It hasn't reached my ears yet."

Still, if a spinoff ever did happen, she's game to join. "That would be amazing," she said. "If they wanted me, I'd be there."

"Mad Men" returns Sunday, April 5, at 10:00 p.m. ET on AMC.

5 Words We All Deserve to Hear in the Morning

I laughed at a first grader who knocked over a row of bikes this morning.

She was late to school, walking her bike the last few steps before parking it in front of the principal's office. "Come ON!" her mom begged. "The bell just rang!" Their footsteps tapped along the sidewalk in a familiar, choreographed dance. I was on the last eight-count of my own uncoordinated morning performance, having nudged and prodded and rushed my 5-year-old into his kindergarten class just seconds before.

I had already walked past Little Miss Tardy when I heard the crash. Caught up in the rush of the morning, she had flung her bike into the carefully-arranged line of bright colored handlebars and carefully hung Elsa helmets. They fell like dominos, and when the last bike landed (at the foot of someone else's dad, who was just as surprised as Little Miss Tardy was), I started laughing.

I laughed.

Not to embarrass her (though I may have infuriated her mom), but because mornings suck. I feel ya, 6-year-old ponytailed sister. If I had a bike and an Elsa helmet, you could be damn sure I'd throw them into the bike rack and hope they fell over, too. That would be my early morning "F you" to a world that moves too fast and expects too much.

Every single morning, my husband and I fight over the (completely ineffective) morning routine that we have developed. "We HAVE to figure out a better plan," I hiss at him, as I yank Max's shirt over his head and steer him toward the bathroom to brush his teeth. We've seen a parenting coach. "You need to find what motivates him," she sang, in that this-is-super-simple if-you-only-pay-attention voice that all experts seem to have. So we tried. There should be a law against sticker charts in the morning. Five-year-olds don't give a rip about sticker charts when they are determined to squeeze every last ever-loving drop of goopy toothpaste out of the tube and onto their toothbrush. You know what else there should be a law against? Having to be anywhere at a decent hour when you are in charge of small humans.

Here is my typical day: Potty, underpants, pants, shirt, socks, I can't find my shoes. Brush teeth too much toothpaste wrong color toothpaste spit your water all over the counter. Comb hair yell that it hurts smoosh it back because MOM THAT'S HOW I LIKE IT. PJ's in the hamper please, not on the floor in the hamper. Make breakfast argue about breakfast spill breakfast make another breakfast yell something about being hungry eat breakfast whine about breakfast yell something else about refusing to eat breakfast clean breakfast off of face. Wash hands. Make lunch (really, who does this the night before? No one). Fill water bottle. Throw everything in backpack.

... And that's just for ONE of the children. Every morning, we screw this up. The kids move like the sap that crawls down tree branches in the winter. I yell like the crazy mom at the park who is terrified that her kid is about to fall off of the play structure. Frantic chaos. And that's on days when I don't even shower. Or put makeup on. Every morning, we are out of time. Out of patience. Out of motivational ideas worthy of the pages of glossy parenting magazines. I don't have a bike to throw, but I'd toss my cup of coffee at something if I didn't need it so much.

I get that we are trying to raise our kids to be good citizens. Worker bees. Responsible for their own time management. Accountable. Aware that their behavior affects the world around them.

There are hundreds of articles that have been written about how to do that.

This is not one of them.

This article is an invitation to the "Glad You Made It" club.

Mornings suck. They suck at my house, and they suck at yours. So, parking lot attendant lady, instead of clucking your tongue and yelling at us that "The BELL just rang! Hurry! Hurry!" when we arrive at school, from now on, I'd like you to take a different approach.

On behalf of tired, frustrated, frazzled parents everywhere, I'd like for you to greet us with, "Good morning! I'm glad you made it!"

"I'm glad you made it," when you see the mom with a wet ponytail dragging the baby out of his car seat and grabbing her kindergartner's hand in the parking lot. "I'm glad you made it," when the first grader throws her bike into the rack because mornings are so frustrating. "I'm glad you made it," when a 5-year-old with bed head slides through the classroom doorway at 8:34 a.m. "I'm glad you made it." I see how hard you're trying. I know that you are learning to move through this world, and that most of the time you don't do it quickly enough. We will learn together.

We have all the time in the world to berate ourselves for how quickly the minutes pass. When we tuck our children in at night, and their bodies are finally calm and still. We count the seconds between breaths, count the books before their eyes close and count the minutes before they are asleep and we can disappear into the sofa and Netflix and a glass of wine. We count the hours that they sleep until waking up again, count the years that have passed that we can never get back, count the days that we are grateful for and guilty of and hoping will never end.

Don't rush us. Not yet.

Our children will spend the rest of their lives feeling responsible and berating themselves for not being fast enough. We know this better than anyone. Mornings suck. If I could play with Legos on my way to the bathroom, or throw my bike into the rack in front of the principal's office, I would.

Sometimes, we do get points just for showing up. So tomorrow, when your daughter drops her backpack in a puddle and my son stops to pick up every stick on the playground, I'm going to catch your eye and laugh with you. We can hurry later. This morning, I'm glad you made it.

This post has also appeared on Mama By the Bay and Scary Mommy.

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Olivia Wilde Gets Real About Her Body: ‘The Truth Is, I’m A Mother, And I Look Like One’

"The truth is, I’m a mother, and I look like one.”

Olivia Wilde opened up about the realities of being a new mom in an interview with Shape for the magazine's April 2015 issue. Wilde, who welcomed son Otis Alexander with fiancé Jason Sudeikis last April, said giving birth was empowering and that she was impressed by the strength she possessed.

While the 31-year-old star doesn't sugarcoat the postpartum experience, she makes it very clear in Shape that her body is hers, and it's capable of amazing things.

No, the photos in her Shape spread are not candid.

“I am not in perfect shape. In fact, I’m softer than I’ve ever been, including that unfortunate semester in high school when I simultaneously discovered Krispy Kreme and pot. The photos of me in this magazine have been generously constructed to show my best angles and I assure you, good lighting has been warmly embraced. The truth is, I’m a mother, and I look like one.”

She gave her vagina some space after delivery.

"Many people aren't familiar with the post-birth experience -- and why should they be? But let me tell you now: For a couple of weeks after you pop that sucker out, you are the walking wounded. First of all, you haven't seen your vagina in months, even though it's all her fault you're in this situation. Now that you can finally confirm that she is, in fact, still there, she isn't the gal you remember, and would rather you back off and give her some space (and an ice diaper) for the time being, thank you very much."

Her focus was on her baby, not her abs.

"That gorgeous bump you proudly paraded around town for some 40 weeks has only retreated slightly after the birth. Now it’s a lot like a partially deflated pool toy. After giving birth, I joined the ranks of millions of new mothers when I moaned, 'Why do I still look pregnant? Is there another one stuck in there?' But luckily, that part doesn’t last long. Basically, for the first few months, your body has that covered, and you can just let it do the work while you focus on keeping the kid alive and occasionally washing your hair. Breast-feeding helps, in the most intense way."

She doesn't care about society's expectations for her body.

"I believe in a world where mothers are not expected to shed any physical evidence of their child-bearing experience. In that same world I believe there is space for exercise to be as much a gift to your brain as it is to your body. I don’t want to waste my time striving for some subjective definition of perfection. I’d rather rebuild my strength while dancing my ass off ... literally.”

Read Wilde's full interview in Shape, on newsstands now.




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How This D.C. Clinic Wants To ‘De-Medicalize’ Abortion

“Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”

That's one of the advertising slogans used by Carafem, an abortion clinic opening this week in Washington, D.C. The clinic plans to approach abortion as a straightforward part of women's health care, hoping to make the procedure a streamlined process that is easy to access.

Carafem will provide the abortion pill to women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant. Patients will be able to book appointments -- offered on evenings and weekends, as well as during weekdays -- through an online portal or via a 24-hour hotline manned by multilingual staff members. The clinic also promises a short procedure time of around one hour, and a lower-than-average price point of approximately $400 for an abortion.

Image via

Terminating a pregnancy with the abortion pill involves two steps. Patients take the first pill, mifepristone, which stops the embryo from growing and detaches it from the uterine wall. Between 24 and 72 hours later, they take the second pill, misoprostol, which causes the uterus to contract and expel the embryo. Carafem patients will take the mifepristone pill at the clinic after undergoing tests and speaking with a doctor, then be sent home with the misoprostol pill. Staff members will follow up with each patient to ensure that the termination was successful.

Chris Purdy, the president & CEO of Carafem, told The Huffington Post that he came up with the idea for the clinic around 18 months ago, after returning from 20 years working for family planning programs in Turkey, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Purdy was shocked to find that it was still so difficult for many women in the U.S. to access abortion care. He worked with Melissa S. Grant, a former Planned Parenthood director who is now Carafem's vice president of health services, on a model to provide early-term abortion services that reduce some of the barriers women seeking abortion commonly face, and make the experience less clinical.

"We wanted to make the experience one that was more caring and more kind," Purdy told The Huffington Post. "Very professional, focused on the quality of care, the woman and her experience."

Grant told HuffPost that they hope to "de-medicalize" the procedure as much as possible, providing "non-judgmental and unapologetic care." The pair has worked to eliminate some of the intimidating sights, noises and smells of a traditional doctor's office. Patients will speak with medical staff one-on-one in small, comfortable rooms devoid of intimidating medical equipment. As much of the testing and preliminary work as possible will be carried out in one room, rather than moving the patient from place to place within the clinic. And, while staff members are fully briefed on security and safety procedures, the abortion clinic will look no different from any other office.

“It was important for us to try to present an upgraded, almost spa-like feel,” Grant told The Washington Post.

Grant and Purdy stressed that they wanted women who visited the clinic for an abortion to be completely educated on each step of the procedure, and to feel comfortable and supported throughout. Grant emphasized the clinic's focus on "the language that we use, the welcoming policies and procedures that we put in place, and making sure that if a woman needs additional time with a doctor, she has it."

Ultimately, their hope is to demonstrate a new standard of care for women seeking abortions.

"There is a myth that abortion clinics are lonely and scary places," Grant said. "That doesn't have to be true."

Powerful Video Reminds Women That Their Life Choices Belong To Only Them

Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone has a message to share: It's her choice. Always.

This short film, produced by Dinesh Vijan and directed Homi Adjania as part of Vogue India's #VogueEmpower campaign, gets a lot accomplished in just over two minutes, discussing topics like marriage, children, love, sex, attire and more.

Padukone's voice booms powerfully in the background as "99 women from varying walks of life" flash on the screen, the publication notes.

"My body, my mind, my choice," Padukone says in the video, adding, "My choice to be a size zero or a size 15. They don’t have a size for my spirit. They never will."

We're blown away. And feeling extremely empowered.

H/T NDTV Movies

Jamie Dornan Says He Stalked A Woman To Prep For His Role On ‘The Fall’

It's pretty common for actors to research the roles they take on, but Jamie Dornan may have taken it a step too far when he started to prep for his role as a serial killer who stalks his victims on "The Fall."

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Dornan said that although he's not a method actor, there were a couple of things he did to get inside his character's mind -- one of which was stalking a woman through London's subway system.

"On the tube, which is our underground system," Dornan said, pausing before he told his story. "Can I get arrested for this? Hold on ... this is a really bad reveal: I, like, followed a woman off the train one day to see what it felt like to pursue someone like that. I really kept my distance and was aware that it was kind of half-hearted."

Dornan said it didn't last long because the woman got off the train a few stops earlier than he was planning, but admitted, "I followed her around a couple of street corners and then was like, ‘What are you doing?’"

The 32-year-old actor added, "It felt kind of exciting, in a really sort of dirty way. I'm sort of not proud of myself. But I do honestly think I learned something from it, because I've obviously never done any of that. It was intriguing and interesting to enter that process of 'What are you following her for?' and 'What are you trying to find out?'"

Dornan will return to "The Fall" for the show's third season, which is expected to air in 2016.

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Watch These Amazing 12-Year-Old Hip-Hop Dancers Turn Down For What

"The Ellen DeGeneres Show" has seen its fair share of ridiculously talented kid dancers, and hip-hop duo Lucky Aces is no exception.

Andree Bonifacio (who goes by AC) and Lucky recently stopped by "Ellen," where the 12 year-olds from Vancouver showed off their very impressive moves dancing to DJ Snake and Lil Jon's "Turn Down For What."

Once they caught their breath, the dancers told Ellen their biggest dream is to one day backup dance for Ariana Grande. The talk show host then surprised them with VIP passes to meet the singer in Vancouver. Needless to say, they were pretty excited.

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Should Twitter Lay Off Trevor Noah?

Middlebrow is a recap of the week in entertainment, celebrity and television news that provides a comprehensive look at the state of pop culture. From the rock bottom to highfalutin, Middlebrow is your accessible guidebook to the world of entertainment. Sign up to receive it in your inbox here.


Trevor Noah is already in trouble. Less than 24 hours after it was announced he would take over “The Daily Show,” Twitter sleuths unearthed multiple tweets that have been called anti-Semitic, sexist and fat-shame-y (there are also calls for his ouster from the new gig -- though Comedy Central has already showed support for him in a statement). The tweets were decidedly unfunny, but this reaction says a lot more about us than Noah or any real desire to protect the subjects of his attempts at humor.

Let’s put the “comedians are supposed to be offensive” argument aside for a second to look at context. On Monday night, the Justin Bieber roast included a number of "offensive" jokes in the way of Noah’s tweets. That, of course, is a comedy event; Noah's tweets, whether or not you were offended, were just not funny. Still, the complete lack of uproar in one context and onslaught of it in the other feels like a clear impact of the Outrage Machine at work: rallying cries of advocacy are rewarded in one realm and seen as self-righteous (and usually liberal) whining in the other.


The real question is why the court of public opinion condemns some celebs’ personal choices and not others. Yes, Noah is a rising star who was relatively unknown before he was given Jon Stewart’s seat on Monday. Except, what would the reaction be if it was discovered Stewart himself had said some offensive / unfunny thing about Jewish people or fat ladies when away from the “Daily Show” desk?

We can easily move the conversation away from comedians. This calls up the basic dilemma of art versus artist: How do you distinguish between an awful personal history and great cultural contribution (aka The Woody Allen Dilemma or, for those of us still rolling around in the year 1993, the R. Kelly Conundrum). Maybe it’s an effort to quash problematic figures on the rise, like a game of Whac-A-Mole based on perceived insensitivity. Though, it seems a bit uneven considering what we tolerate from the celebrities we’ve worshipped for a while.

One explanation is that maybe it’s harder to deal with the reality to which we hold alleged monsters when their infractions reach mainstream awareness long after they have secured our love and acceptance. Look how hard it was for people to get over their affection for Bill Cosby. Following the numerous sexual assault allegations against him, Cosby's name has become a verb for inappropriate behavior (h/t Chelsea Handler). And he still has fans. By way of a totally different example, why are we not outraged at really any celeb who has ever pledged allegiance to the abusive / cultish nonsense that is Scientology? What makes it okay to have watched “Going Clear” and still think Elisabeth Moss is really chill?


What's happening with Noah is not some unified force for goodness in defense of feminism, body positivity or religious acceptance. The good, possibly plus-size and female, non-denominational Lord our God knows we need way more of that. It’s nothing more than the Outrage Machine churning its daily bait to a pulp. This kind of thing likely starts with cries from the conservatives not getting enough attention for calling Lena Dunham an anti-Semite (and apparently BuzzFeed editors?) and then just builds from there. Soon, Noah is trending not for his newfound success but for his old tweets. His name in that left column is like a signal to the masses that now is the time to pounce, to drag him through the mud in return for some favorites or maybe a few new followers. The point is not to defend any of Noah’s crappy tweets. Really, they were as mindless and counterproductive as participating in the mob mentality trying to take him down.

Follow Lauren Duca on Twitter: @laurenduca

You Are A Good Daughter

When I first began talking to people about my journey with my mother's Alzheimer's -- which I tentatively began to do a couple of years ago -- one of the things I heard the most often was: "Your mother is very lucky to have such a good daughter."

At first, I felt like an imposter.

"I'm really not," I wanted to reply. "I'm so imperfect. I was a challenging teenager. I was so angry at my mother for so long and for so much. I've stayed living in Los Angeles instead of moving back to Massachusetts to take care of her full-time. I could have done less. I could be doing more. Sometimes I don't want to talk to her on the phone because it hurts. I've been selfish. I am selfish. I'm not a good daughter. I'm not good enough."

Rebellious teenage me

When my mother was two years into her illness, she began to cling to a couple of stories which she would repeat ad nauseam. One of them was about my sophomore year of high school when I went through a rebellious streak and began cutting class and hanging out with "crooks and thugs" in Harvard Square. She would begin talking about this brief period of my adolescence and what began as a reference or retelling would quickly escalate into more. The old rage -- which was a part of what I'd been trying to escape at 16 years old to begin with -- would come back into her eyes and her voice and no matter how I tried to change the subject, she wouldn't be deterred. She would scold me. She would become shrill and screamy and loud.

In response to her circular, repetitive reproaches, I would eventually become so frustrated that I would snap. I would lose my patience; I would turn back into that angry 16-year-old girl on the inside, filled with resentment and blame. Once, after days on end of it, I went so far as to tell her -- quite loudly, if not actually yelling -- "You have to stop! You have to stop! That was 10 years ago, you have to have to have to stop talking about this! What do you want me to do? I was 16. You have to stop!"

In that moment, I certainly didn't feel like a good daughter. I didn't feel like an imperfect daughter. I felt like a terrible person who was yelling at my mother who has Alzheimer's and couldn't help herself.

After the last essay I wrote, I received many heartfelt comments and messages from women thanking me for writing it. In turn, they shared with me their own painful and bittersweet experiences with a loved one who suffered or is suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another terminal illness. Each and every kind and empathetic word and story was a beautiful spot of blossoming pain and love on my heart. But the ones that stood out to me the most were the ones in which the writers confessed to me that they, too, had had very difficult relationships with their mothers before they became ill. Many of these messages had a sense of being whispered, a sense of relief in the confession, an echo of guilt. Message after message of women telling me, "It was the same with my mother. Thank you for writing about it. That was the part of your essay that meant the most to me."

I realized that we are all afraid that we are bad daughters. That even if it is our mothers who have Alzheimer's and not us, a part of our minds are also stuck on the past and we are wracked with guilt in the present. That we are filled with shame for the selves we used to be and those selves inside of us that still are. And that goes for all women, I think, who have had a rocky past with their mothers. Even if their mothers don't have Alzheimer's. Even if their mothers aren't sick at all. Even if their mothers hurt them and have continued to hurt them so badly that they've had to cut ties.

But to all of these women, to all of you, there is something that you need to hear. Something that you need to hear so hard that it becomes a physical force, a stamp, that you feel imprinted on your heart.

If you have loved your mother enough to feel the pain of her hurting you, and the pain of you hurting her, you are a good daughter. If you have tried to forgive her, even if you haven't been able to so far, you are a good daughter. If you have ever striven to do the very best that you can, even under challenging circumstances, you are a good daughter.

And it's OK.

It's OK if your relationship was challenging. It's OK if your relationship was awful. It's OK if you said things or did things that you aren't proud of, of which you are ashamed, that you wish you could take back. It's OK.

Guilt is among the most visceral of human emotions and too often, because of its very nature, we push it down until it becomes a near-permanent part of us. It becomes something that rattles around in the background at all times and then, every so often, flares up painfully like a chronic illness that our immune systems mostly suppress but can't quite shake. I believe that it takes so much soothing, deep breathing and self-forgiving, again and again and again, to heal your guilt. And especially if you are grieving. Because guilt is so painful and cuts so deeply that it is well known to be an integral part of grief.

So I will say it again. Because I want you to know it so much that you feel it in your bones and your heart and your teeth and your skin and every part of you that hurts.
. And it's OK.


Rebecca Emily Darling is a writer, artist, vintage seller, and sometimes actress living in Los Angeles. You can follow her on twitter, facebook, and instagram, and you can take a peek at her vintage treasures here.

Photo by Jessie Askinazi.

Introducing PowerToFly Connect: An App For The World’s Fastest-Growing Women’s Placement Platform

Today we're introducing PowerToFly Connect, a free app on iOS and Android devices. It's clear that as we continue to match women with work that values productivity and not time spent at a desk, we need a space to share stories and ideas so we can build a better future together.

We're launching this app in response to the overwhelming feedback we received after I published my personal story, "I'm Sorry To All The Mothers I Used To Work With," almost a month ago. Much to my surprise, a piece that I first wrote as a private exercise to understand my motivations around co-founding PowerToFly, was read by millions around the world when I agreed to publish it in Fortune. My co-founder Milena and I, along with an amazing team working around the world, received tens of thousands of stories from women (and men) who wanted to share what they go through each day to fit into workplaces that consider personal lives a distraction. Many people who reached out weren't parents themselves or even looking for work. They just wanted to talk about adapting work to create a better and balanced future for themselves, their children, and others.

"Thank you for giving me and every other struggling mother out there a voice," said a woman from Germany. An American executive added: "I had similar feelings of guilt about my approach to working mothers in the business and finance world when I became a mother for the first time in 2013." From a new father: "My wife and I have a daughter about three months old, I too believe that working remotely would be better for our family." And just yesterday a new mother told me that she waited six months to reveal she was pregnant while working at a Fortune 500 company. Six months!

We want these stories to be out in the open because we need each other as role models, catalysts and supporters to transform the offices where we spend most of our waking hours. So many of you have reached out asking how to help make that happen.

So go ahead, and please download the app. Post stories about topics like career reinvention, work/life balance, news that affects us and more. Share tips about working from home, collaborate with each other on resume writing, and discover new job leads and like minded women looking for a third way to work. And if you just want to read and learn from others, that's fine. We have a number of curated sections on iOS today, and Android very soon, around topics that matter to us.

PowerToFly Connect is mobile-first because we're about unhinging from our desks to work smarter and play better. In the coming weeks we will be taking feedback from you on how you use the platform. We already have new features and updates planned, such as discussion groups around career fields and particular topics that speak to our goals outside of work.

We built PowerToFly Connect very quickly with RebelMouse. We're very proud of what we're showing you today, yet we know it has a long way to go. So don't hesitate to send feedback to And if you want to read more on how to use PowerToFly Connect then check out this link. We're looking forward to hearing from you.

How My DIY Computer Got Confused for a Cookie Box Because I’m a Girl

"Are those cookies?" I held our carefully constructed wooden box awkwardly in my hands, as I felt my cheeks start to flush. I remember feeling stunned, shocked even, that, as a fellow colleague at a prestigious technology entrepreneurship conference, the man in front of me could suggest that I was just handing out cookies for the real entrepreneurs.

My cofounder, Mark, recovered quickly, laughing it off, and opening up the wooden toolbox I held in my hands to reveal electronics pieces of the kit we had created to teach kids about building with hardware through playing Minecraft. It was easy for him to shrug it off. During his two hours holding the box, the product hadn't been mistaken as a cookie box even once. During my hour, it happened three different times.


I grew up in Texas, as the daughter of Indian immigrants who had started their own company and worked hard every single day to make our opportunities and our lives better than theirs had been. As the younger sibling, I remember learning about everything from my older brother, Pinaki, and finding fascination and beauty in the worlds of science and technology from the way my brother could explain it. Surrounded by brilliant people who would always know more than me, I learned to work hard. Very, very hard. And there was nothing I felt I couldn't do if I put my mind to it.

With that mindset, when my grandfather passed away of cancer when I was 15, I knew I wanted to understand more about the disease, and undeterred by my own complete lack of experience, I started emailing dozens of professors working with cancer research in my area. The responses were rejection after rejection after rejection, until finally I received a response from Dr. Alakananda Basu, a professor of immunology at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, inviting me to come speak with her about possibly working in her lab. The next two summers became a fascinating whirlwind of learning techniques, designing experiments and conducting groundbreaking research on drug resistance in ovarian cancer. In 2011, this research won me the Grand Prize of the first ever Google Global Science Fair from over 10,000 projects all over the world.

My year, girls, working with subjects from carcinogens in food to environmental health in homes, won every age category of the Google Science Fair. In the whirlwind of experiences that followed, from getting to meet the President of the United States twice to being one of Glamour magazine's Amazing 21 Young Women of the Year, I remember getting asked about what it was like to be a girl in science. I remember having no stories to tell, no newsworthy quotes about any discrimination I had faced or any anecdotes about being labeled a "nerd" derogatorily. To be completely honest, in my own naivety, I had never realized gender imbalances were even one of the major problems in STEM education.

It was the questions I kept receiving which made me really start reflecting on what had made me feel like I could "do" science in the first place. Was it a complete obliviousness to social cues? Was it a conscientious disregarding of the statistics I had heard repeatedly about gender in STEM? I suppose it was a little of both, but the biggest thing for me was being surrounded by women who I could look up to as role models. My professor was a woman, the Ph.D. students I had worked with were women and, above all, I had a support system which never had insinuated that gender even played a role in scientific ability.

Three years later, after having the incredible opportunity to speak around the world advocating for better STEM education and recognizing the need for better gateway tools to start building with technology, I teamed up with my cofounder Mark to create Piper, a Minecraft toolbox to get kids more engaged with technology through a DIY electronics kit. In piloting with over 400 kids, we had seen faces light up as kids assembled their own computers and built gadgets (like switches/buttons/LED lights/etc.) to solve Minecraft challenges. It's a powerful product because it can inspire real invention and creation, and we were excited to create a company and a brand around it.

Before Piper, I had read the articles, the stories about the casual sexism in the world of startups and entrepreneurship, but I brushed it aside. STEM fields are also supposed to be biased, and I haven't experienced much discrimination there, I told myself. Entrepreneurship will be okay too. I was very wrong.

The thing about gender biases are that they aren't always overt. Girls aren't told that they are bad at science. That idea is reinforced each time learning how to dress up pretty is prioritized over doing homework. Girls aren't told that they can't be entrepreneurs. That idea is reinforced every time a technology product in a box held by a girl is mistaken for a cookie box, and every time a product demo is automatically assumed to be created by the guy rather than the girl. Gender divides are more subtle than that; they seep into public perception, and they are damaging to everyone in suppressing ideas that can change the world.

It's not practical or fair to say that these attitudes will change overnight or that frustrated rantings will solve everything. And progress is being made in STEM, in small nudges by dedicated people like those at Girlstart (an organization out of Austin, TX running camps for girls in STEM) and even legislators in the Office of the White House who are pushing to close that divide in science. But where is that for entrepreneurship? Where are more strong female role models starting companies and breaking down those barriers?

I am not special. I was surrounded by special people -- role models who lifted me up and made me feel like being a woman wasn't a disadvantage in STEM. The fact that these people exist shows me that STEM has made incredible progress in closing the gender divide. Yes, there is a ways to go, but it's happening. And it's happening now. But now, it's time to push entrepreneurship to do the same. Hopefully much, much faster.

Shree Bose is the cofounder and COO of Piper, which is currently raising funds on Kickstarter at She is currently a member of Harvard's Class of 2016.


Women, Incarcerated: Investigative Series Shows Systemic Abuses Of Women In Prisons And Jails

Keeley Schenwar learned she was pregnant the same day she was arrested. That spring of 2013, she didn’t pee on a stick and study the results in the bathroom; there was no moment of elation. Instead, a nurse at the Cook County Jail in Chicago led Schenwar to a separate part of the facility, away from the other women. When Schenwar asked why, the nurse broke the news.

Ellen Pao And The Sexism You Can’t Quite Prove

It happens all the time when my husband and I are at work events together. Cocktail Party Guy asks my husband about how things are going at his news site, and he answers. Then Cocktail Party Guy asks me how our dogs are, and I answer, before pivoting the conversation back to work — and later rolling my eyes as we walk away. It is not impolite. It is not inappropriate. But it is still, at least in my mind, sexist. Both me and my husband love our work. Both me and my husband love our dogs. One of us gets asked about our work. One of us gets asked about our dogs.

So Sia Hides Herself? So Do Daft Punk. The Only Difference Is She’s A Woman

Pop operates a double standard: when men conceal their identity, it’s part of their art. When women do it, the web demands to know why

What Can The White Man Say To The Black Woman?

Only one thing that the black woman might hear.

Fugs and Fabs: Everyone Else at the iHeartRadio Music Awards

meghan trainor 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards On NBC - Show

‘What It’s Like To Be Intersex’ Explains And Clarifies Intersex Identity (VIDEO)

If you have ever been confused about what it means to be intersex, this video is one of the most accessible explanations of this identity that we've ever seen.

From Buzzfeed Yellow comes "What It's Like To Be Intersex," a compassionate and nuanced examination of the many layers of intersex identity. Intersex often tends to be confused with identifying as transgender but, as one participant puts it, "transgender has to do with your gender identity, while intersex has to do with biological characteristics."

Essentially, intersex means that the chromosomes one is born with don't necessarily correspond with traditional understandings of a male/female binary. For this reason, intersex people often face invasive "normalizing" surgeries from doctors who try to make their physical characteristics align with being either "male" or "female."

In fact, about 1 in every 2,000 people are born intersex. Check out the video above to learn more.

(h/t Mic)

Come Say Hello! THE ROYAL WE Events and Signings


Fug Madness 2015, Elite Eight: Bjork Bracket

Lady Gaga

Hope For Some of the World’s Most Vulnerable Children

When I visited the Sivile Primary School in South Africa's Western Cape, I was struck by a feeling. It was a feeling of the vulnerability of the children all around me, who are put at huge risk every single day. It is a threat and a risk they face for what should be a simple journey. Yet, they are placed in harm's way just for trying to get to their school to gain an education.

Right in front of their houses in the very poor neighbourhood of Khayelitsha, sits a high speed road -- the Jeff Masemola Highway. It's a road that brings trucks and cars at 90 km/h right through the settlement, the traffic rattling the corrugated iron roofs of the shacks where the children live. And it is a road that brings fear and misery every day to the schoolchildren of Sivile Primary.

I visited the Sivile Primary last year for the launch of the Safe Schools project, which I am privileged to be involved in as part of my work campaigning for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. The project is the first of its kind in South Africa, but is in line with similar initiatives supported by the Road Safety Fund globally, including in Tanzania, Mexico and Costa Rica.

When you stand at the Jeff Masemola Highway outside the school, you appreciate the difficulty the children of Khayelitsha face as they try to get to school early each day. Hundreds of children stand by the road every morning -- running and then stopping to avoid trucks and cars that clatter by, inches from their faces. In fact, more than one in five children reported that they had been involved in a road crash in some way -- a shockingly high number.

road safety

The Safe Schools project, which is being supported by Janssen and the FIA Foundation, is coordinated by ChildSafe South Africa, which is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide. It has researched the problem and has found solutions, including safe infrastructure, education, collaboration and sustainability. Now that these solutions are being implemented, the students at Sivile have a better chance of getting to school safely.

I helped launch the project in May 2014 with the FIA Foundation's Road Safety Fund and our partners. For Janssen, the principal donor, the project continues its support for the Decade of Action for Road Safety. I was honored to speak about the initiative during my presentation at the Safe Roads | Safe Kids Global Road Safety Summit, when leaders from 30 countries met in Washington, D.C. at the end of last year to collaborate on helping our most vulnerable road users. What struck me then was the momentum that is building around the world to support our children. The Summit was an opportunity to learn from others. And at the same time, it was encouraging to hear that much can be learned from our communities in South Africa.

When I attended the launch at Sivile, I could sense the vulnerability of the students, but I could also feel a tremendous sense of hope for children in South Africa and around the world. Road traffic injury is a man-made epidemic and a serious burden on children and young people globally, but it is preventable. The vaccines for this epidemic are readily available: safe crossings, protected footpaths and speed restrictions, together with well-designed education programs. No child should be denied protection on our roads. With a clear voice we must call for global support to ensure that road safety becomes a development priority.

This is the message of "Save Kids Lives," the global campaign for children's road safety, which I've been privileged to help launch. It calls on policymakers to take strong action to improve road safety for children everywhere. The campaign has been gathering thousands of supporters since it was launched, and our goal is to capture 100,000 signatures for the Child Declaration by Global Road Safety Week, from May 4 to May 10, 2015. To help, visit

With projects like the Safe Schools initiative and the Save Kids Lives campaign, we are walking the walk, demonstrating how much can be achieved if we work together. We know that lives can be saved. Let's collaborate and combat this leading killer of our children -- the most vulnerable in our society, but who we value more than anything else. Together we can -- and we must -- Save Kids Lives.

Editor's Note: Johnson & Johnson is a sponsor of The Huffington Post's Global Motherhood section.

Mom’s Viral Apology On Facebook Reminds Parents ‘It Takes A Village’

An Alabama mom is making headlines this week after her Facebook apology went viral. Kyesha Smith Wood wrote this post to apologize to a stranger after her teenage daughter and step-daughter were "rude," "obnoxious" and "disrespectful" at the movies.

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This is a long shot, but I'm looking for a woman that was at Tannehill Premier tonight seeing Cinderella at 7pm. I...

Posted by Kyesha Smith Wood on Friday, March 27, 2015

After Wood posted her apology on the McAdory-McCalla Community News Facebook group, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office page shared a screenshot, along with the caption, "What do you think of the way this local mom is handling this situation? Looks like these children have great parents." That post has over 250,000 likes and 50,000 shares to date.

Within 24 hours, Wood's Facebook apology reached the mystery woman in question -- Rebecca Boyd of Adger, Alabama. According to ABC News, Boyd wrote in a comment:

"I am the mom from the movie theatre. I had taken my daughter to see Cinderella. I was very upset and disappointed in the girls behavior...the note from their mom brought me to tears and shows there is [sic] still good people in the world. I have no hard feelings towards them and I am proud of their parents. The girls are not not bad...they are children. Glad they are learning a lesson. I hope if my teenagers are out and they act up...I hope someone says something to them."

In an interview with Yahoo Parenting, Boyd said the girls' behavior at the movies consisted of giggling, talking loudly and even kicking her seat. When she turned around to ask them to stop, "they just giggled at me and continued with the same behavior.” Speaking to the girls after the movie, Boyd explained her situation and "told them they needed to realize that their behavior affects others and they never know what other people around them are going through.”

After seeing Wood's apology, Boyd sent her a Facebook message, and the two got to talking. Wood told, “I thanked her for correcting my girls in my absence and letting them know that they were wrong." She added, “A lot of times people get nervous about saying something to a stranger’s kids. But it takes a village to raise our kids. We as a community need to hear this, that there are parents out there who still believe in old-fashioned methods.”

In an interview with ABC News, the mom praised Boyd as a "gracious, kind, and forgiving woman." "I've been getting a lot of attention for this story but the real hero is her," Wood said, adding, "She took it upon herself to correct my girls and nobody else around them did."

ABC News reports since the post went viral, Boyd's husband has received several job offers. And as for Wood's daughters, the mom said they are "mortified," but will never behave this way again.

Indeed not.

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My Q and A With Insomnia Expert Gregg Jacobs

Gregg Jacobs is an insomnia specialist at the Sleep Disorders Center at the UMass Memorial Medical Center and the author of Say Good Night to Insomnia. In answer to my questions, he shared his insights on how human sleep patterns have changed over time, healthier and more effective alternatives to sleeping pills, and how to reverse our worst sleep habits and behaviors.

Describe your research on insomnia.

I have a longstanding interest in the relationship between the mind and health. My doctoral research, which assessed the ability of the mind to control physiology, showed that it was possible to use deep relaxation techniques to voluntarily produce brain wave patterns that were identical to the initial stages of sleep. My postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School included research on the meditative practices of Tibetan monks. This research, conducted in a Tibetan monastery in Sikkim under the auspices of the Dalai Lama, revealed that advanced Tibetan monks possess remarkable control over their brain waves and physiology. This led to my efforts to develop a safe, drug-free intervention for insomnia, called cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), over the past 30 years at the Harvard and University of Massachusetts medical schools. This research culminated in a landmark study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, showing that CBT-I is more effective than Ambien. Because few people have access to CBT-I, my more recent efforts have focused on making CBT-I widely available in an inexpensive, practical format through my website, Numerous studies have recently demonstrated that internet-based CBT-I can be delivered as effectively as face-to-face CBT-I and is more practical and cost-effective.

You've discussed the history of segmented sleep. Do you believe we have evolved past this pattern, or are our bodies struggling against us when we try to sleep in one chunk of time? How does insomnia relate to this?

Research suggests that we may have displayed a polyphasic (i.e., multiple periods) sleep pattern for virtually all of our evolution until the recent advent of nighttime lighting. Prior to that, humans likely went to sleep soon after dusk and awakened at dawn in longer sleep periods that consisted of alternating bouts of sleep and wakefulness. This non-continuous sleep pattern is characteristic of virtually all mammals and is also the pattern we experience early and late in life. It is only in adult life, and the last 350 years of human history, that a more consolidated nocturnal sleep pattern is apparent. However, many adults still experience polyphasic sleep in the form of insomnia, and regular intervals of waking are still experienced in normal sleepers today, as evidenced by six to 12 brief awakenings per night (which most of us don't recall, for they are too short). Evidently, this polyphasic sleep pattern lies dormant in our physiology, met an evolutionary need, and therefore may be adaptive rather than a sleep disorder.

In segmented sleep, how was waking time between the two sleeps spent?

In prehistoric times, it may have been spent tending to the fire, being vigilant for predators, in deep relaxation, for creativity and problem solving, and a channel of communication between dreams and waking life. Historical accounts suggest it was used for sexual activity and socializing, reading and writing, praying, meditating on dreams, or tending to the fire in the cold months.

Tell me about cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. How does this treatment for insomnia compare with other methods like sleeping pills? What successes have you seen among your patients, and how can others incorporate the strategies into their sleep habits?

CBT-I is the most effective psychology-based treatment for a health problem and has consistently been proven to be the most effective first-line treatment for chronic insomnia. It improves sleep in 75 to 80 percent of insomnia patients and reduces or eliminates sleeping pill use in 90 percent of patients. It is so effective that I am surprised if my patients do not report improvement in sleep, or a reduction or elimination of sleeping pills, from CBT-I. And in three studies published in major medical journals that directly compared CBT with sleeping pills, including my study at Harvard Medical School, CBT-I was more effective than sleeping pills. CBT-I also has no side effects and maintains improvements in sleep long-term, and new research shows that CBT-I doubles the improvement rates of depression compared with antidepressant medication alone in depressed patients with insomnia.

In contrast to CBT-I, sleeping pills do not greatly improve sleep. Objectively, newer-generation sleeping pills such as Ambien are no more effective than a placebo. Subjectively, they only increase total sleep time, and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, by about 10 minutes. Furthermore, these small to moderate short-term improvements in sleep are often outweighed by significant side effects and risks, particularly in older adults. These include impairment of alertness, driving, and learning and memory (including sleep-dependent memory consolidation); increased mortality risk, as shown in almost two dozen scientific studies; and dependence, addiction, and activation of the same neurobiological pathways involved in drugs of abuse.

CBT-I is based on the idea that some individuals react to short-term insomnia (usually caused by stress) by worrying about sleep loss. After a few weeks of lying awake at night, frustrated and anxious about insomnia, they start to anticipate not sleeping and become apprehensive about going to bed. They soon learn to associate the bed with sleeplessness and frustration; consequently, the bed quickly becomes a learned cue for wakefulness and insomnia. As a result, they begin to engage in these types of maladaptive sleep habits, thoughts and behaviors that exacerbate insomnia that must be changed with CBT-I (sleeping pills are marginally effective because they do not change these behaviors):

Negative, distorted thoughts and beliefs about insomnia such as "I must get eight hours of sleep" or "I did not sleep a wink last night."

Going to bed too early or sleeping too late and spending excessive time in bed.

Irregular arising times.

Trying to control sleep rather than letting it happen.

Lying awake in bed, frustrated and tense.

Using the bed and bedroom for activities other than sleep.

Use of electronic devices before bedtime.

I Was An Accidental ‘Fluffer’ on a Porn Set

By Anonymous

Back in the day, I was a production assistant on porn shoots. And what, you may ask, does a PA do on an adult film set?

The answer: pretty much anything and everything, from dispensing the paper towels and handing over the Albolene mid-sex scene, to holding the c-light (the "c" stands for "crotch," by the way), to shopping for, prepping and serving meals.

Despite what you might think, making smut can be anything but sexy. Just like on a regular movie, people work hard (no pun intended!). The hours are long and grueling. The sets are often stifling because air conditioners and fans have to be turned off; you don't want the AC buzzing above the hum of a vibrator. And yes, sex shoots can be hot, sweaty and sticky -- but not in a good way. Plus, they often don't smell too great, either.

I've seen a lot of interesting things in dirty moviedom -- actors yelling at their uncooperative semi-erections, actresses worried more about mussing up their makeup or picking up their kids from school on time than getting their partner to the finish line.

But one thing I've never seen is a fluffer. You know the fluffer myth -- she's the tall-tale woman hired for the sole purpose of helping a performer get and keep "wood."

I must confess, though, that a few times I've been an inadvertent fluffer.

How is it possible to be a fluffer by accident? Often, it's just by being there. The pressure of getting an erection in front of a small crowd -- cameramen, light guys, gaffers, photographers -- then climaxing on cue is a daunting task. Sometimes it helps to have a friendly female face among the mostly male crew. Like a PA, for instance. And it doesn't hurt if that PA has dreamy brown eyes, a friendly disposition and a heart-shaped butt.

The first time I realized I was a fluffer by default was during a gig at Adventure Studios in Corona, Queens, a stone's throw from (then) Shea Stadium. It's a big, convoluted warehouse-y space where the lion's share of New York City flesh flicks were shot. I was standing offset, watching well-endowed Damien Cashmere struggle with a bouncy, blonde starlet. It was the middle of the summer, and Hades hot. Cashmere was dripping sweat onto his ladylove, which she was none too happy about.

Next thing I knew, there was a gentle hand on my shoulder and a soft voice in my ear. It was my buddy Rick Savage, the director. "Cat," he cooed. "I don't know how to ask you this, but would you mind turning just a little bit so Damien can look at your ass during his scene? He thinks you're kind of cute."

A little taken aback and oddly honored, I angled my bod so Cashmere got a better view of my backside. The scene went off without a hitch.

Then there was the time in Worcester, Massachusetts, when we shot the artful erotic masterpiece Awakening in Blue. It was another Rick effort with a gorgeous score and creative storyline, with shades of the classic Behind the Green Door. The cast, imported from New York, included Nubian newcomer Ron Hightower, in his dirty movie debut.

Rick was taking a chance with new meat. Traditionally, it's risky to hire a first-time stud without a proven track record of carnal coupling for the camera. They pop too soon, they can't perform at all... or they're instant stars. The pressure is intense, and Rick wanted to ensure that all went well for Ron, who was tall, buff and handsome, the stuff wet dreams are made of.

En route to the studio from the hotel, we stopped at a McDonald's drive-through to pick up a protein-rich breakfast -- only Ron was too excited to eat. Rick was concerned that without the fuel of the eggs in big breakfast, Ron might not be up for the job.

As Rick drove us to the set, I could see worry furrowing his brow. "How about I feed you?" I cooed to Ron. He turned around in the front seat, grinning, and opened his mouth wide in anticipation. I delicately fork-fed Ron so he'd be ready for his interracial double-cuntal -- which is exactly what it sounds like.

At the studio, cameraman TH and his crew had created a posh underground sex club, complete with a stage and rows of chairs surrounding it. The premise was that Rick's character, like Austin Powers, has lost his mojo. He happily rediscovers it as he watches the acts that mount the stage -- and each other. Ginger Thomas -- sleek, chestnut-haired, sensuous -- welcomes both John (her real-life husband) and Ron into her abode.

Now, even under the best of circumstances (i.e. on a bed), a double-cuntal is a physically difficult feat. Some men are squeamish because their members actually rub against each another in, uh, tight quarters (i.e., Ginger). To make matters worse, this particular interaction would take place on a cold, hard stage.

But all three parties were game and went at it with gusto. So much gusto, in fact, that the force of their ardor literally pushed Ginger across the floor; she had a nice burn on the base of her spine to prove it. But Ginger -- and the boys -- were incredibly turned on and aching to continue.

Cameraman TH and Rick had a powwow to figure out how to remedy the situation. Again, Rick approached me with his smoky blue-green eyes, pleading. "Uh, Cat?" he began, "We were wondering if you wouldn't mind holding onto Ginger so she won't slide across the stage."

"Sure," I stammered, eager to be part of the annals (or is it anals?) of porn history. Or herstory. I firmly grasped Ginger's wrists out of camera range while she held onto mine. The men were up and in, thrusting away. Ginger gazing into my eyes, albeit upside down, was the portrait of passion. Literally sobbing with joy, she melted from orgasm to orgasm. I couldn't tell where one ended and the other began. It was raw, pure electricity. At one point, John looked into my face to gauge my reaction. I could feel their passion moving through Ginger's body into mine. It was so intense it almost felt like a four-way.

After the double pops, Savage christened Ginger's lovely visage. (Hurray! His mojo had returned!) The crew burst into spontaneous applause. It was a true thing of beauty.

I brought Ginger towels and water. She was still floating on a sea of lubricity, quivering from the intensity. Next, I handed the guys paper towels and water, and went about my PA duties, namely mopping up the sweat and other body fluids from the stage. Paige Pilar was due to do a solo sequence next, set to Erik Satie's lovely "Gymnopédie No. 1."

Sometimes, a PA's job entails offering a kind word or a smile, or bringing in a home-cooked roasted chicken to the shoot by way of the "7" train. Other times, it involves a strategically placed posterior or helping hands. But way back when, I was a fluffer by fluke.

And proud of it.

This story first appeared on, an alternative news+culture website for women, as part of its anonymous Confession series.

Have a secret confession you'd like to share? Email And read more confessions here:

Confession: I'm A Feminist, But I Like To Be Called 'Whore'

Confession: I'm An "Almost Alcoholic"

Confession: I'm A Feminist Who Participated In A Sleazy Cancun Wet T-Shirt Contest

Confession: I Want To Use A Strap-on On A Man

Homeless People Read Mean Tweets About Themselves To End Stereotypes

When celebrities read mean tweets about themselves, it's funny. When homeless people do it, it's heartbreaking.

In a powerful PSA by Canadian advocacy group Raising the Roof, people who are dealing with homelessness read actual tweets written about those living without stable shelter.

"Maybe if homeless people took care of themselves, looked pretty, we would want to help them," Kubby, a man in the video who has been homeless for 47 years, reads. "I don't help yellow teeth."

"Never understand why homeless people smell of piss when you can literally piss anywhere," another man named Kim, who's been homeless for three years, reads.

The PSA -- which appropriates the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" segment that has featured entertainers, athletes and even President Obama -- aims to "remind [viewers] the conversation around the issue needs to change," according to Raising the Roof. The organization is using the #HumansForHumans hashtag to promote the video and keep its message spreading on social media.

The PSA uses the same concept as one published online earlier this month by the Canadian Safe School Network and advertising agency John St. that highlights cyberbullying among teenagers.

To learn more and support Raising the Roof, visit the organization's #HumansForHumans website.

To take action on pressing poverty issues, check out the Global Citizen's widget below.

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To American Apparel From a Model: Sorry for Being ‘Too Real’

The first time I met Dov Charney, I had no idea it was ​him.

Unlike what many might imagine, he was not overtly "creepy" and didn't say or do anything to make me feel uncomfortable. He smiled, happy to meet one of his newer employees, and was nothing but polite as he looked me in the eyes, reached out to shake my hand and continued about his business.

At the time, I was leaving the American Apparel Los Angeles headquarters and heading to a photo shoot for the brand. I am one of their "regular" models that appears frequently on the website wearing different colors and styles of their catalogue.

What I am not, however, is what you would consider a "typical" model. I am not Caucasian, blonde and blue-eyed, I have one eye that is slightly smaller than the other, and I barely reach 5'8" on a good day. I am Asian with freckles on my face, have scars on my knees from running and falling as a kid, and am considered too short to be a high-fashion model.

But at American Apparel, that was all okay. In fact, it's what the famed brand has historically embraced about its eclectic array of models: different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, hair colors, skin types, heights and backgrounds. There are pale girls, tan girls, short girls, tall girls, multiethnic girls, young girls and even elderly girls in their advertisements.

It's not to say that everything at American Apparel is peachy keen. There's no doubt that certain images associated with the brand have been out-of-the-box risqué and sometimes downright inappropriate. In the same tow, the aforementioned Dov Charney was booted from his CEO position for sexual harassment suits and has left a breadcrumb trail of his misconduct with previous employees and even visiting journalists. But I wasn't there and never experienced it, so I can't speak to it.

I was on the phone with my mom as I parked in the parking lot of the Los Angeles American Apparel headquarters for my very first test shoot. She, in excitement about my new potential opportunity, had checked out the website. As any mother would be, she was concerned.

"Are you sure? Some of these pictures are..." She paused, unsure what to say. My mom, though far from the stereotypical strict, suffocating "Asian mom," was worried not only about my image, but my safety.

I promised both verbally to her and myself that I wouldn't pose in any way that made me uncomfortable. This included any type of nude, implied nude or suggestive poses or pieces of clothing as many of their lingerie and controversial advertisements show. As a full-time student, a journalist hopeful, as well as a role model for my two younger cousins who were avid shoppers at the brand, I knew it just wasn't for me.

The reason why I continued to model at American Apparel for two years following that day is because I never received any pressure to go against my promise. On the first day, after test shooting a couple of their signature American Apparel zip-up hoodies, my photographer asked if I would be comfortable modeling a pair of underwear. I took them in hand and stared at them for a moment. Immediately sensing my hesitation, he added, "If you don't want to, it's totally okay. We'll skip it."

And we did. When shooting product (images you see online when shopping on the website), whenever I was handed a piece of lingerie, a cheeky bodysuit or even a dress made of a slightly see-through fabric, I would give my photographer a look, to which he would come to know meant: "We'll skip it."

My mom now asks me to send her all of the images I shoot with American Apparel and eagerly shares them with her friends. She often calls to tell me that she's so proud.

That's the reason I returned to American Apparel for the next two years to continue modeling and learning about their brand. The people I met were fun, accepting and interesting. The models I met and worked with were beautiful, most untraditionally or not obviously so, but all hardworking, sweet and diverse. Some were students, like me. Others were entrepreneurs, modeling for fun while working on their own jewelry lines or music careers. There were world travellers, drummers, record-signed singers, tri-linguists and even a marine biologist.

In short, the people I have met are far from "Instagram hoes" or "thots," whatever those are. As Animal New York unveiled, American Apparel's latest campaign to rebrand their company following the departure of Dov Charney aiming to cast models that "conform to industry standards." Senior Vice President of Marketing Cynthia Erland of the company allegedly said that currently, the site's featured models are "too short," "too round" and far from her desired image of predominantly Eastern European or Russian models.

Despite the fact that the company has been endlessly chastised for their unconventional imagery, the company itself has never once reprimanded their models for not looking or behaving a certain way. None of the models I have ever worked with have been told that they are too fat or too thin, too pale or too dark. The images have an incredible turnaround rate because barely, if any Photoshop is used to "perfect" blemishes or alter the model's true image. In fact, the only time I was ever asked not to do something was once when I showed up wearing eyeliner. They asked if I could take it off and model with a natural, no makeup face instead, please. All of their models are organically real -- both inside and out.

In case you're wondering, this is me. According to the Los Angeles-based agency Photogenics that were the culprits behind the disrespectful casting call email, as well as the new American Apparel CEO Paula Schneider and Cynthia Erland, I am not good enough. The dozens of beautiful and stunningly diverse models I once worked with are no longer acceptable.

The women (and men) I've worked with at American Apparel are far from deserving of being called a "hoe." We embraced the brand, because they once embraced us. Not the airbrushed, censored, "Barbie-fied" us -- the imperfect skin, natural faced, birthmarked us.

There was a special kind of beauty in the real world woman that American Apparel was once open to embracing. Whether one partook or not, a woman's sexuality was free, her imperfection was free -- hell, even the nipple was once free. After over 15 years of establishing a truly unique brand amongst the dime a dozen of overly tanned, lanky blonde girl look, I thought that perhaps someone out there who looked more like me would find solace in knowing that at least one major American retailer out there understood that there is more than just one image of a woman out there.

To American Apparel, I thank you for once giving me and countless other customers the courage to believe that we are beautiful even without makeup and just as the sizes we are. May that valuable lesson live on -- far beyond the future American Apparel brand.

Indiana Shut Down Its Rural Planned Parenthood Clinics And Got An HIV Outbreak

Scott County, Indiana, the center of an exploding HIV outbreak, has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider -- a Planned Parenthood clinic -- was forced to close its doors. The clinic did not offer abortion services.

The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state's public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.

The fact that Scott County was "without a testing facility until a few weeks ago is a glaring example of the kind of public health crisis that results when prevention and testing are left unfunded," said Patti Stauffer, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky's vice president for public policy.

Indiana's GOP-led state legislature was one of the first to declare war against Planned Parenthood in 2011, when it passed a bill that defunded the family planning provider because some of its clinics offer abortion services. A federal judge later blocked that law from going into effect, but the state has continued to slash various sources of funding to Planned Parenthood at a time when the cost of operating a medical facility continues to rise.

In 2005, Planned Parenthood of Indiana received a total of $3.3 million in funding from government contracts and grants. By 2014, that funding had dropped to $1.9 million. Five of Planned Parenthood’s smaller clinics in the state -- the health centers in Scottsburg, Madison, Richmond, Bedford and Warsaw -- were unable to keep up with the growing technology costs that were necessary to remain competitive as a medical provider. All five clinics that were forced to close had offered HIV testing. None had offered abortions.

Even without five of its clinics, Planned Parenthood's HIV testing in Indiana has been increasing each year. Overall, the provider's 25 remaining clinics in Kentucky and Indiana gave more than 8,000 HIV tests in 2014, about 1,000 more than the previous year. And the numbers would certainly be higher if the five shuttered clinics in Indiana had been able to continue to operate.

Stauffer said if the Planned Parenthood facilities in Scottsburg and Madison, both in southwest rural Indiana, had received the funding they needed to stay open, they could have been a vital resource in preventing the current HIV outbreak.

"We applaud the state’s public health officials in acting to address this epidemic, but we also encourage our legislators to adequately fund public health efforts to protect all Hoosiers from future health crises from HIV and other devastating outcomes," said Stauffer.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has warned that the HIV outbreak amounts to an epidemic. Last week, he broke with previous policy to create a temporary needle-exchange program to stem the tide. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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On the Runway Blog: Yoox and Net-a-Porter Combine for Big Data Fashion Domination

After the merger, just think about the customer information now available to the group, which will have a giant foothold in beauty, men’s wear, women’s wear, sale shopping and shoe shopping.

Motherlode Blog: Not an Adoption Diary. Yet.

The guy I was in January would not have sung a burp-related version of “Let It Go.”

Meghan Daum Talks ‘Selfish, Shallow And Self-Absorbed’ And Being Childless By Choice

If the title of Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids sounds confrontational, that’s likely not an accident.

If you grit your teeth at the idea that people of European descent should try to procreate to remain in the majority, or if you resent the implication that your life is dull and limited if you choose to have children, or if you are infuriated by the accusation that parenthood makes you antisocial or selfish, there will be passages in Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed that will provoke the urge to hurl the book across the room. (Try to refrain.) “These are serious writers, and I’m not going to censor them,” says editor Meghan Daum of the sometimes “enraging” essays in the collection.

It’s this commitment to honesty that also creates room for moments of profound vulnerability and revelation. Daum, the acclaimed essayist and author of last year’s The Unspeakable, deplores how often the childless-by-choice hide behind glib lines and jokes -- e.g. “Why have kids? My shoes are my babies!” -- rather than opening up about the complexity of their attitudes toward parenthood. Those shallow conversation-changers are nowhere to be found in this searing collection.

Instead, we hear from one author who chooses not to have kids after a fear-filled childhood that left her struggling to effectively nurture herself, let alone a family. Another admits that the advent of her brother’s daughter means mourning the loss of their tight-knit sibling bond. One man concedes that he’s hesitant to have a child who would grow up with the middle-class advantages that are anathema to his political sensibilities.

Daum herself didn’t include a story of choosing childlessness in the collection, but poignantly narrated her own experience in The Unspeakable’s “Difference Maker.” She writes of knowing that she doesn’t want a child, but struggling to admit this even to herself. “It was possible,” she muses, “that nothing, not a baby or lack of a baby, not a beautiful house, not rewarding work, was ever going to make us anything other than the chronically dissatisfied, perpetual second-guessers we already were.” Parenthood, and living child-free, aren’t magical states that elevate us to higher states of being; they’re just one way or another to muddle through life, as we are. Maybe this perspective, at last, is the way past the parental wars.

Daum chatted with The Huffington Post recently about choosing childlessness, how we define ourselves and the art of the essay:

On the problem with how we talk about choosing not to have kids:
"I’ve felt like so many of the discussions around this often got reduced to just throwaway lines, like, 'Oh, I’d rather sleep late than have a child,' or 'I’d rather take expensive vacations.' It’s funny because those kinds of accusations or just labels, they often come from people who have kids, but more often I hear them from people who’ve chosen not to have kids! It’s almost like it’s easier somehow to say that you’re selfish or want to buy expensive shoes than it is to say, 'Hey, this just isn’t for me. This isn’t something that I want to do.'"

"I’m just fascinated by that. I’m fascinated by why it’s less of a taboo to say that you are a selfish, materialistic person than it is to say 'Hey, I just don’t want to do this.' That amazes me."

Why she thinks parents may feel threatened by the childless by choice:
"It’s really hard to be a parent, especially these days. The culture has ratcheted up the job of parenting so that it seems like there’s a lot at stake, all the time. It’s like a more than full-time job, and people have full-time jobs on top of that. When you’re in the middle of that, and somebody comes along and says, 'Hey, guess what, I’m not doing that, and I didn’t feel like I had to,' that can get people upset. They can get their backs up. Especially people who felt that it was something that they had to do."

Daum suggests that a defensive or angry reaction is misguided, thought understandable, arguing that "People who choose not to have kids do so because they respect the job of parenting so much that they know not to take it on if they know it’s not something that they’re up for, and I don’t know what to be a bigger tribute to parenting than that."

Why parents never need to explain their choices:
"It’s never questioned. I think when it’s the default setting, it’s easier to just sort of go ahead and do it without really thinking about the reasons why, and when it’s not the default setting, you’re sort of charged with either having to explain yourself or even explain yourself to yourself."

On whether the collection’s essays are “confessional”:
“'Confessional' -- everyone has their own definition of that. Confessional, to me, means that you have not made judicious choices in terms of what you’re including and what you’re not including. In my own work, I see what I’m doing as confiding to the reader as opposed to confessing to the reader. So I guess the litmus test for me with the pieces in the anthology was, did I feel like I was being confessed to or did I feel like they were confiding in me and the reader? Were they exploring something and taking the reader along with them?"

Why it’s tricky to write personal essays about taboo subjects:
"If somebody is talking about having an abortion, no matter how they talk about it, it’s going to come across to some people as confessional, just because it’s such a taboo."

... but also necessary:
"The point of essays is the point of writing anything. It’s not to tell people what they already think or to give them more of what they already believe; it’s to challenge people, and it’s to suggest alternate ways of thinking about things."

On the value of professional writers:
"Writers are the ones who figure out how to put their observations into words. It was more important to me to have these ideas conveyed by people who really know how to convey ideas."

Whether we’re in a golden age of essays:
"Having been a working writer for 20 years, and being around publishing, it’s undeniable that there seems to be an appetite for essay and essay collections that did not exist 10 years ago, or certainly 20 years ago."

... and why that might be:
"I think people seem to want to read pieces that are shorter but not as short as the pieces they can read in small bites on the internet. It may be that the sort of long essays are hitting a sweet spot between the tiny morsels online and the full-length book."

She also tossed around a few more practical considerations that might be driving the trend: "Maybe people are busy! Maybe people are so busy, it’s like 'Oh, if I have this novel sitting here, it’s just sort of like, oh, my God, when am I going to sit down and read this,' you know?"

Some writing advice:
"You get to a point where you say, 'Okay, I have said exactly what I want to say, and to the best of my ability. This is the best I can do with this.'"

"You know what it is?" Daum went on, excitedly. "It’s kind of like in 'Friday Night Lights'; the coach says, 'Be perfect. All you have to do is be perfect.' And being perfect doesn’t mean getting every single thing right; it means that there is not one more thing you could have done to do a good job. It’s knowing that you have burned every calorie there is to burn on this, turned over every stone; that you have looked at every point and every sentence from every way; and that you’ve made a decision, the best decision you can, on each point, and moved on."

Why parents and non-parents should care about the viewpoints in the book:
"Ultimately, the book is about how to be an adult in the world and live authentically and make life choices that are right for you, and that is something that is everyone’s concern, and affects everyone."

6 Fairy Tales That Need A Shakeup

I have to fess up before I start, that much as I liked reading fairy tales as a kid, I never related to them. I was not the girl who wanted to be a princess when she grew up (a diva maybe, but never a princess). I always found the witches and wicked stepmothers far more interesting than the "heroines" -- at least they actually did something. I never found the idea of being rescued and then looked after/owned to be in the least bit interesting. Maybe even at six or seven I knew that sweet as they were on the surface, all fairy tales needed a feminist shake up. Also, at six or seven I looked more like a boy than a girl so maybe I figured that by fairy tale rules I was destined for a life of bitter envy because, after all, being the prettiest is clearly all that matters. Or not.

To be fair, the men of fairy tales don't exactly get a great rep either. Anyone who has to have the word charming in their name probably isn't -- just take a look at any dating site where men use "prince charming" in their description. Nine times out of ten their opening email to you will include the words hun and hot and then a variety of misspellings because they simply can't bring themselves to write in full, grammatically correct sentences, or maybe don't know how to. Anyone calling themselves a "prince charming" sends my face into its pelvic floor exercise expression. (NB: it's not a good face).

I'm not dissing romance. We all love a bit of true love conquers all, and when I started on Poison, Charm and Beauty, that was one rule of the fairy tale formula that I didn't want to break. But it was impossible not to re tell them without breaking lots of the other conventions and here's why. They need a shake up for sure, and not just a feminist one. What are those stories really telling us, other than women cause each other problems that men need to sort out?

Snow White
A tale of true love, in which an older woman is so jealous of her step-daughter's looks that she tries to kill her. In fact, she tries twice. It's bad enough that we now live in a world where women fill their faces with poison rather than celebrate age, why reinforce that in fairy tales? Oh well, at least Snow White is saved by true love. Hang on. Wait. What kind of man falls in love with a virtually dead woman in a glass coffin and then proposes as soon as she wakes up? Not even a first date coffee first? See if they get on? That dude has issues. So does she for saying yes. Everyone in this story needs therapy. Except maybe the dwarfs.


A tale in which a very pretty but poor girl basically roofies a prince with magic to make him fall in love with her, because getting a rich husband and a big house is all that counts in life, no matter how you go about it. Said girl has two less pretty sisters. So much less pretty that they're called 'the Ugly sisters'. This means that they're very unpleasant. Of course they're not very nice. If people went around calling me an Ugly sister, I'd probably be bitter too. There is a nice older woman in this one for once -- the fairy godmother -- but to be honest, she's basically a dealer. Also, girls, if the man who claims to have fallen in love with you only recognizes you because your foot fits a shoe, you really need to question his depth of feeling.

sleeping beauty

Sleeping Beauty
Bad stuff happens to babies a lot in fairy tales. In this, parents send out party invites and forget to send one. The uninvited guest shows up and rather than blaming the parents, casts a spell on the poor baby. As soon as the curse comes to pass, the mother promptly dies rather than trying to find a way out of the situation -- or at least fire the servant who brought the spindle into the castle. Death is clearly an easier option for a frail, beautiful queen who's never had to do anything in her life than staying alive and sorting out the repercussions of the invite mess. Luckily, everyone (except the dead queen) is saved by a roving melancholy prince who, on finding the sleeping princess, kisses her and promptly marries her. I don't know about you, but if a moody stranger woke me by kissing me, I'd punch him in the face and then call promptly for the guards. I wouldn't expect my dad to start merrily organising the wedding. Especially when he should be grieving for my mum.


A tale in which a nagging pregnant wife fancies some of her neighbour's lettuce so much she forces her husband to steal it for her. Fair enough -- cravings happen. This, however, results in them having to give up their baby daughter (she should have just sent him to the supermarket), to the crazy lady next door, who must have been stung hard by the world because she decides to protect the girl from it by locking her up in a tower as soon as she hits puberty. As you do. Of course a wandering prince comes by and climbs up her hair (what conditioner does she use??) and after a brief chat, knocks her up. When the crazy lady finds out -- Rapunzel, clearly not the brightest button in the box having asked her why she's not as heavy on the hair as the prince - she kicks her out. At least this prince tries to find Rapunzel and their twins and they eventually marry. Basically, this is a story about really really bad parenting all round leading to a teenage pregnancy.

beauty beast

Beauty and the Beast
The archetypal Stockholm Syndrome story. Once again, a parent messes up and the disposable girl child takes the repercussions -- in this case a father giving up one of his daughters to a hideous creature of a man who was prepared to kill him over a plucked rose. Thanks dad. The girl, cut off from all outside communication, of course falls in love with her captor. As you do. But because he's so ugly she can't possibly marry him -- revealing something of a lack of depth of character on our Beauty's part. Of course once she realises she loves him, he transforms into a handsome prince. Heaven forfend that an ugly person should have true love. What a relief that they can both now be beautiful together. Never mind that he's so vain he wouldn't even go outside his own house while he was ugly and had threatened to kill her father over a flower. Minor details. I think maybe they deserve each other though. Who would let themselves be called Beauty anyway? You've got to be very overly proud of your looks to rock that one. A normal girl would have changed her name to Susan.


Another tale in which babies are traded and all anyone cares about is cash. You'd think that the miller's daughter, having been given away by her own lying father, would be less hasty to promise her first born to a dodgy hobgoblin. I'd have also thought she'd have been less hasty in marrying a king who had her locked up in order to weave him gold from straw on pain of death. To be fair, she did her best in a bad situation, and at least she doesn't just sit and cry and wait for a prince to save the day, but finds out Rumplestiltskin's name for herself. I've always kind of hoped that the greedy old king had a son from a former marriage and the miller's daughter and he ran away together. Maybe set up a business somewhere. A con racket with Rumplestiltskin.

Sarah Pinborough is the author of Poison.

Image Of 101-Year-Old With Baby Sparks Unbelievable Response

Even Patrick Quinn, co-founder of the popular Life of Dad social media network for dads, was shocked by the flood of photos the site received after posting this picture of a "101-year difference" between a new baby and the family's oldest living relative.

The photo was shared by Sarah Hamm of Gilbert, Arizona. She had brought her two-week-old daughter Kaylee Rowland to meet her 101-year-old Grandma Rosa Camfield.

The photo inspired more than 120 readers to post their own multigenerational photos and new ones are being added every day, said Quinn. But the real shocker for him, he says, was that many of the photos claim an even bigger age gap than 101. "Our highest gap in age was 112 years, which is pretty amazing," he said.

"People were really drawn to the image for reasons we didn't foresee. They thought of all of the things this woman has seen and lived through in her lifetime and imagined how her experiences will shape the life of the baby just starting her own journey," Quinn told The Huffington Post.

Hamm said even she was delighted that her photo triggered such a response. Grandma Rosa, she noted, was born on June 13, 1913 on Friday the 13th. She was the youngest of two children and had an older brother. Rosa has three children, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren and currently lives with her oldest daughter in Chandler, AZ.

"My grandma was born and raised in Michigan where she spent all her life until 2007 when she moved to Arizona. She went to school in a one-room school house," Hamm told The Huffington Post. "Her dad was the first one in their town to own a vehicle. She went back to college when she was 43 and became a school teacher in Ludington, MI."

The reader reaction delighted co-founder Tom Riles. "Our audience started sharing pictures of their families that illustrated the gaps in ages between the oldest and the newest members. To think that they grew up in entirely different worlds than what the newest members will experience, yet their influence, values and love will pass on through them and others to come is simply amazing," he said.

It really is. Check out other beautiful images of great-grandparents with their great-grandchildren here.

You can see more of what readers sent Life of Dad here.

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7 Times Every Pregnant Woman Could Relate To Duchess Kate

The Duchess of Cambridge always has it together. Whether she's making a royal appearance, tending to George or playing cricket, it seems as though there is never a hair out of place.

But, as any pregnant woman will tell you, not every day is a glowing skin and perfect hair day. Between swollen feet, aches and pains and even the occasional wedgie, there are some fashion woes no woman is spared from -- even if she is royalty. During her second pregnancy, the duchess undoubtedly dealt with at least some of these issues.

Here are seven times our favorite duchess embodied every pregnant woman's woes -- at least from the looks of these hilarious photos.

7 Pairs Of Shoes Every Woman Over 50 Should Own

There are hundreds of articles and books that will tell you how to cope with turning 50. Trust me -- I know how hard this can be. I stayed 49 for several years before deciding to accept my aging body and embrace my true self.

For a while, I followed everyone else's advice. I stopped dyeing my hair, downsized my life, joined a yoga class, exercised every day (ok, maybe every week), consumed 4 tablespoons of olive oil and drank one glass of red wine every day. Several years later, I'm fully in the swing of things and the only suggestion I still follow consistently is drinking a glass of red wine a day.

That doesn't mean I've become less active. Far from it! I've just redirected my energy. As the founder of Sixty and Me, a community of 100,000 boomer women and Boomerly, a website that helps people over 50 to make friends, I've had plenty of time to discover how the happiest people among us spend their time.

So, based on my own experience and the advice of the wonderful people in my communities, I wanted to share seven pairs of shoes that every woman should have in her "turning 50 survival kit."

On the surface, these are just footwear, but, they represent much more than that. I hope that this advice helps you go approach your birthday with confidence, passion and optimism for the years ahead.

Here are seven pairs of shoes every 50-year-old woman should own.

Running Shoes to Help You Chase Your Dreams

If I could offer you one piece of advice for getting the most from life after 50, it would be this -- get in shape. This will improve your physical appearance better than any "anti-aging" potion and your self-confidence better than any self-help book.

Having a great pair of running shoes will give you the confidence to chase your dreams and explore your passions. They will motivate you to start an exercise plan and help you feel invincible and in control.

With your new shoes, you will be able to travel to new places in comfort and style. Oh, and, as I discovered the hard way, your new running shoes will keep your hand-eye coordination in tiptop shape. On second thought, if your eye-sight is like mine, maybe go for Velcro.


Reliable Flats to Remind You of the Importance of Simplicity

The happiest older women I know have all embraced a minimalist lifestyle to one degree or another. Focusing on having less and experiencing more will be easier if you can navigate quickly and comfortably. That's where new flats come in.

Every time you wear your flats, try to remember what is really important in your life. No-one wishes that they had spent more time working when they are on their death bed. They wish that they had spent more time on the simple things -- their friends, family, treasures, dreams and passions.


Comfortable Walking Shoes for Staying Social

Turning 50 is scary, in part, because of our changing social circumstances. Our children have left the house and are building their own lives. Many of us are recovering from a divorce. Our relationships at work are changing. As a result, one of the best investments that you can make in your 50s to help you get the most from life in your later years is making friends.

Having a good pair of walking shoes will remind you to get out into the world and meet new people. Keep them handy and never let them gather dust. Explore your passions with others. Use sites like Boomerly to meet like-minded people. Learn to see the world as your playground. It is.


Sturdy Boots to Keep You Tough and Adventurous

As we reach our 50s, there is a tendency to want to withdraw from the world and stick with what's safe. In my experience, this is a recipe for disaster. Getting the most from life after 50 requires toughness and a willingness to explore.

Having a tough pair of boots will help you to stay adventurous in your 50s. They will help you to stay calm, when others are losing their heads around you. They will help you to counter invisibility - since everyone will hear you coming. They may just keep you safe as well. After all, who's going to bother a 50-year-old woman in a pair of Dr. Martens?


Stunning High Heels to Remind You that You're Still Sexy

One of the biggest myths about getting older is that you no longer care about being attractive. Rubbish! We may not buy in to the anti-aging messages that are pushed at us from every direction, but, we still want to express our style and feel beautiful.

Every woman needs a statement piece of clothing in her 50s. Whether you choose a fabulous little black dress or a pair of jeans and a leather jacket, your look will be complete with your high heels. Why not go for something red? Tell the world that you are not someone else's stereotype. You are a radiant, beautiful woman, who is proud to be 50.


Wellington Boots for When You Feel Silly

Life after 50 doesn't have to be serious all the time. In fact, there are plenty of things that 5-year-olds can teach us about getting the most from life. So, put your Wellington boots on and get ready to jump in some puddles, hike through the Amazon rain forest, or, maybe, just muck about in the garden.

Don't forget that childlike laughter is one of the best antidotes for depression. It's also probably better for removing wrinkles than face cream!


Sensible Heels for Walking Towards a Brighter Financial Future

More boomers than ever are abandoning traditional views of retirement and getting ready for an active life in their 60s and beyond. In fact, according to the Kaufmann Foundation, people aged 55-64 are starting businesses at a faster rate than people in their 20s and 30s. Whether you plan on starting a business or you want to continue working for someone else, you'll need a sensible pair of heels to keep you moving.

Having a pair of sensible heels in your survival kit reinforces your image as an intelligent and professional woman. There has never been a better time to build a better financial future. Embrace your 50th birthday and make it happen!


Looking back at my 50th birthday, which seems so close and yet so far away, I wish someone had given me this advice. These shoes will remind you to challenge any aging stereotypes you encounter. They will give you the confidence to explore the world on your own terms. They will tell the world that you refuse to be invisible. They will help you to get the most from life after 50.

What advice would you give to a woman on her 50th birthday? What do you think the secret is to getting the most from life after 50? Please join the discussion and "like" and share this article to keep the conversation going!

Here are a few more Boomerly articles to inspire you to get more from life after 50:

How Comforting Your Inner Child Can Help You to Find Happiness After 50

Want to Find Happiness in Life After 50? Stop Blaming the World and Start Helping Yourself

It's Time to Get Angry About Ageism! Madonna's Ready for a Fight

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

Intersection: Style in Seoul, South Korea

In the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul, Mina Kwon, an illustrator who has collaborated with Pharrell Williams, says her style is influenced by hip-hop and androgyny.

Victoria’s Secret’s Lululemon killer is crushing

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