What Malala Wants for Her Birthday and Other Notes from the Week

Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.
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Catch up on all the news you might have missed with our handy summary of the week’s top stories.
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We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Melania Trump Is Hiding in a Hole Somewhere

As the Republican National Convention took place in Cleveland this week, it wasn’t the newly knighted Republican nominee Donald Trump who made the most buzz in headlines; it was his wife. Delivering remarks on Monday night in support of her husband, Melania Trump appeared to have plagiarized remarks made by Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention several years earlier. After Melania became this week’s laughingstock of the Internet, speechwriter Meredith McIver of the Trump Campaign came forward with a statement of resignation, but the Trumps declined it. Said Donald, “we all make mistakes.” Mistakes, indeed. —Mary Rose Somarriba

. . . But It Wasn’t All Bad

Political controversy aside the Republican Party has named porn a “public health crisis” in its platform. The porn industry is stronger than ever and the effects of porn are still often overlooked. Despite its connections to addiction and abuse, its frequently cited reason for divorce, and desensitizing effects toward sexual violence, porn is consistently one of the most searched things on the Internet, often serving as the first form of sexual education to kids as young as 12 years old.

But as Gail Dines and Robert Jensen wrote for Verily this week, labeling it a “public health crisis” is not enough to incite reform. If we don't teach kids about healthy relationships first, “porn will continue to feed them junk sex that is based on misogyny and the commodification of the female body.” We still have a long way to go before kids and adults alike can realize that nothing about porn is healthy, but this week's news was a good first step. —Grace Cooper

It’s Been 15 Years Since Elle Woods Went to Harvard

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of everybody’s favorite lawyer dressed in pink: Elle Woods. Years later the film and its musical successor still retain their relevance as if it were day one. (Exhibit A: You don’t have to go far to find someone who understands a reference to the “bend and snap.”) But the iconic character played by Reese Witherspoon is much more than a real-life Barbie. She’s a lovely embodiment of feminism. Woods stays true to herself and her femininity no matter how much her peers pressure her to change. She’s strong, she’s intelligent, and she can definitely rock pink anything like nobody's business. And, as many fans appreciated seeing this week, Witherspoon still can, too. —GC

She Is Malala, and She Is Still a Champion

Remember Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating for girls to attend school? This courageous role model turned 19 this month, and the Malala Fund, which she cofounded with her father, sent out a tweet saying she dedicated her birthday to women everywhere and their right to an education. The Malala Fund partners with local organizations around the globe to ensure that women can attend school safely. When Yousafzai was only 12, she spoke out for women’s educational rights by blogging for BBC Urdu. After a member of the Taliban shot her for speaking out against its opposition to women’s education, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. While many female role models equate equal rights advocacy with sending out a few feminist tweets, Yousafzai quietly continues working toward equality without looking for fanfare, just help. —Madeline Fry

Bobbi Brown Wants You to ‘Be Who You Are’

In other anniversary news . . . to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of her cosmetic brand, makeup artist and entrepreneur Bobbi Brown launched the Be Who You Are campaign to celebrate the beauty of women of all ages, ethnicities, and professions. Since its founding, Brown’s eponymous brand has provided makeup tones for all skin types, particularly those that don’t fit conventional foundation tones, such as Asian and black. One basic foundation has twenty different shades, and her makeup has been worn by stars from Serena Williams to Kate Middleton. Brown worried growing up that she couldn’t be considered beautiful because, with her dark hair and five-foot stature, she didn’t look like the models. So ever since she began her cosmetics line, she has created makeup to highlight natural beauty rather than fit trends. “To be beautiful is not about how you look,” she says on her blog. “It’s about how you feel.” —MF

Science Says: Make a Cash Withdrawal

If you want your lattes to taste better, pay for them in cash, we learned this week. Assistant marketing professor at the University of Toronto Avni M. Shah recently conducted a study to measure the effects paying with cash or card had on buyer satisfaction. After noticing that her lattes tasted better when she paid with cash instead, she had a group of people purchase cheap mugs, some with cash, some with credit. When Shah offered to buy the mugs back at any price, those who used credit cards were more likely to sell back the mugs for less money than those who paid with cash: the people who had parted with physical dollar bills were more likely to sell the mugs back at double the price of the card users or to refuse to sell them at all. We all know using cash can make us more conscious of our spending. But according to Shah’s conclusions, it can also make our purchases more valuable to us—and our lattes much sweeter. —MF

Garry Marshall, RIP

If you’ve ever seen any classic rom-com starring Julia Roberts, then you definitely know and appreciate Garry Marshall. The legendary film director passed away this week at age 81, and his presence and incredible talent is already missed. Tributes to the famed director have been pouring in from people who worked alongside Marshall throughout the years, including Anne Hathaway, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and many others. Marshall has eighteen films in all and a slew of sitcoms attached to his name, but the people who knew him best mostly remember his sense of humor and the incredible friendship he was willing to give. His work and reputation spans generations from the early days of Laverne & Shirley to the recent string of holiday romcoms Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. To the man who brought us everything from Princess Diaries to Happy Days, rest in peace Garry Marshall. —GC

Women Are Leading on Social Media 

In a world where women are still fighting for equal treatment, there is a place where women are definitely ahead of the game and have been for a while—and that place is social media. When it comes to personal branding, whether it’s on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, women are bringing the heat. According to recent statistics the current top-six social influencers are all female, starting with Selena Gomez who is worth $550,000 per sponsored post. This also serves as a reminder that we need to be acutely aware of how and what we share. Social media is a great platform for change and as women we have a lot of influence—how we choose to present ourselves very powerful. —GC

Role Models Wanted: Who You Gonna Call?

Those who are still sore that the Ghostbusters reboot stars four hilarious females (and not Bill Murray among the leads) can be encouraged by two things: (1) a Bill Murray cameo and (2) an entertaining summer flick that, as a stand-alone film, does not disappoint. Ever since the announcement that Ghostbusters would hit the box office with a team of comedic female powerhouses, the film has been under fire. But Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon not only proved their comedic chops but also demonstrated the importance of female role models in film. After this photo of a young, starstruck fan went viral, it ignited a discussion about why girls need to see themselves represented in leading roles. For those of us who never saw the eighties original, the Ghostbusters reboot is not about pushing an ideological agenda, it’s about filling an empty-ish market and letting all comedians have a chance to make us laugh. —MF

Speaking of . . . It’s About Time This Movie Comes Out

Wonder Woman finally is getting her own movie, and even better, it’s being directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman, which is slated to come out in June 2017, will be first film with the heroine as the lead character since she was created seventy-five years ago. Actress Gal Gadot, who plays the title superhero, is awe-inspiring in her own right: She used to be a combat trainer in the Israeli army and is now an actress, model, and mother. The movie will follow Wonder Woman’s origin story, something that has been overlooked in the past. Gadot told Entertainment Weekly last week that having the movie directed by a woman was important. “It’s a story about a girl becoming a woman,” she said. “I think only a woman, who has been a girl, can be able to tell the story in the right way.” Gadot also explained that Wonder Woman is a very human character, and she hopes that playing that role will exemplify courageous and compassionate femininity to girls like her 4-year-old daughter. —MF

Swipe Right for a Handyman

Tinder may not always be the best place to find love, but apparently it’s a good way to get a free AC installation. One woman told the New York Post she swiped right on a man not because she was attracted to his face but because his overalls and the hammer in his hand made him look like the perfect candidate to put in her new air conditioner. Turns out that she was right, but when he asked her on a date afterward, she turned him down. As the Post article notes, some dating experts say using the dating app to find household help is fine as long as the women make it clear that help is all they’re looking for. Others see it as exploitative of the men who hold out hope that showing off their handyman chops will land them a date. We think it's pretty funny, but maybe next time it would be more reliable to just use Yelp. Tinder may not endorse users looking for household help, but it’s all for helping you form connections even if you’re not looking for love: Last week the app announced a new feature, Tinder Social, that will let you form hangout groups with strangers, so you can avoid a lonely night without resorting to Netflix and chill. —MF

When One Gold Medal is Too Few

When gymnast Shawn Johnson East won a silver medal for the all-around competition at the 2008 Olympics, she stood on the podium and received the medal and an “I’m sorry.” Although East went on to win one gold, the world had expected her to sweep the competition, and the 16-year-old knew she had let it down. In a video for I Am Second that has more than a million views, East explained that meeting her own expectations wasn’t enough when she fell short in the eyes of the world. As she trained for the 2012 Olympics, she became depressed, sleep-deprived, and incredibly stressed. After having an aha moment, which she credits to her faith, East says she quit competitive gymnastics because she didn’t want to train anymore and she no longer felt compelled to please those watching. While not many of us will face the pressure that comes with fame and athletic greatness, we can all be inspired by East’s commitment to follow her own judgment without listening to the deafening crowd. —MF

Good News of the Week

While our world may be going crazy, it’s great to see humanity is not dead. This week in California, a news program highlighted some good news for once. One 10-year-old girl named Leah Nelson decided to start an uplifting initiative in her town. With the sole mission to be kind to others, Nelson began making bracelets and attaching them to a kind note, then offered them to any stranger who would stop, listen, and pledge to do something kind for someone else. In the volatile times we live in, few things are as inspiring as being reminded by kids of what it’s all about. —MRS