“While You Were Out” is a Friday feature of short notes and commentary from the week. Whether it’s something you’d discuss at the watercooler or at happy hour, you’ll find it on our grid, together with our opinion as to if it’s praiseworthy or cringeworthy. We’re pleased to bring you the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Jessica Alba Makes Forbes’ List of Richest Self-Made Women
This week, news broke that Jessica Alba has made the Forbes list of richest self-made women. With a net worth of $340 million, the CEO of the Honest Company has just passed Queen Bey in terms of overall earnings. It’s not about competition, though; it’s about celebrating women who make their fortunes on their own. All the women who are independent, throw your hands up at me! —Mary Rose Somarriba
J. K. Rowling’s Perfect Response to Girl Who Was Teased for Wanting to Write
A 16-year-old Egyptian girl, a self-proclaimed “Potterhead,” tweeted at author J. K. Rowling about how the Harry Potter series inspired her to become a writer. In Egypt, however, strict gender roles have trivialized the girl’s passion. “You inspired me to write,” she said. “However, in Egypt, girls can’t do anything freely as boys [can]. They laugh at me when I say I am a writer.”
No stranger to the struggle that writers face, Rowling responded to the girl’s message just minutes after it was tweeted: “Don’t you dare let their laughter extinguish your ambition. Turn it into fuel! Big hugs from one writer to another x.” An inspiring message for anyone who has faced ridicule for pursuing what they love. —Hannah Allen White
Melissa McCarthy’s Groundbreaking Clothing Line
When Melissa McCarthy announced her clothing line, we knew it would be awesome. Turns out, not only do the first designs look amazing, but McCarthy also has a bigger vision: to rebel against “plus-size” language and change the shopping experience to be inclusive to women regardless of size. “Women come in all sizes. Seventy percent of women in the United States are a size 14 or above, and that’s technically ‘plus-size,’ so you’re taking your biggest category of people and telling them, ‘You’re not really worthy.’ I find that very strange,” McCarthy told Refinery29. “I also find it very bad business. . . . I just think, if you’re going to make women’s clothing, make women’s clothing.” We’re with you, Melissa. Let’s turn this around. —MRS
Kelly Clarkson Is Pregnant!
This week after crying repeatedly on stage while performing a concert, Kelly Clarkson realized that she had to explain the source of her mood swings. “I’m totally pregnant!” she exclaimed to a cheering crowd. The singer admitted that she hadn’t intended to broadcast the news just yet: “I just didn’t want you to think I was crazy. Honestly, I’m just hormonal today. Nothing’s wrong; I’m OK.” I have to say, not only is it exciting to hear of Kelly’s growing family, but it’s also refreshing to see the realities of pregnancy being applauded on stage—mood swings and all. —MRS
Two Women Graduate from Army Ranger School
Two women will make history by graduating from the Army’s Ranger School this week after completing the notoriously grueling two-month training program that begins in Georgia and ends in Florida. Capt. Kristen Griest and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver are the first female soldiers to graduate from the school for the special operations unit. Although they will be pinning the ranger tab on their uniforms, the two women can’t yet apply to join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force.
The Army announced that it would begin admitting women to Ranger training in January as part of an effort to determine whether women can be assigned to ground combat units in both the Army and the Marine Corps. The decision will not be made until later this year. Whether these ladies will see combat is yet to be determined, but their accomplishments are impressive nonetheless, considering that just 40 percent of male soldiers in ranger school graduate. —Baleigh Scott
Here’s to Breaking Barriers Without Even Knowing It
The oldest known veteran, Emma Didlake, died this week at the age of 110, exactly one month after being honored by President Obama at the White House. During her service, Didlake received the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. However, Didlake’s accomplishments extend far beyond the military. One of fifteen children, the African-American housewife joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943 after more than twenty years of marriage and giving birth to five children. After World War II, she joined the NAACP and eventually marched alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Detroit.
When asked what it was like as one of the first African-American women in the military, Didlake said, “I didn’t know I was breaking barriers. But I enjoyed doing what I was doing because I had committed myself to do just this.” Rest in peace, Emma. Your bravery in the military, in civil rights activism, and in the home are truly inspiring. —BS
Taylor Dedicates Song to New Godson
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift is a proud godmother to her friend Jaime King’s new baby boy (here she is meeting him for the first time, and it’s beautiful). During her Santa Clara show Saturday night, she dedicated her song “Never Grow Up” (from her 2010 album Speak Now) to him, saying, “I wrote it when I was like 18 or 19, but my friend just had a baby, and she made me godmother of it, and I was holding this little baby the other night, and I was just thinking differently. . . . When you’re holding on to something that’s so innocent and so perfect and has no idea what’s coming for it with the world . . .” The song lyrics—“Your little hand’s wrapped around my finger/And it’s so quiet in the world tonight”—perfectly capture those first moments of meeting a brand-new tiny loved one. One thing’s for sure: Any life with Taylor Swift as your godmother is going to be an incredible one. —Sophie Caldecott
Teen Choice Awards . . .
This year’s Teen Choice Awards were quite the hot topic—too “grown-up” for some and completely over the heads of others. When E! published an article titled “18 Moments from the 2015 Teen Choice Awards That Made Us Feel Super Old,” including references to the multiple bare midriffs, awards for Viners, and unknown faces on the red carpet (aka much-followed YouTube personalities), the teen readers reacted by going into full-scale meltdown mode, sending tweets and comments such as this one from YouTube star Ricky Dillon: “Literally why would you put this in an article lol it’s just flat it rude and ignorant.” As a thirtysomething, I can’t help but laugh and feel compelled to tell them to chill out. But as Digiday pointed out, “A recent survey shows that ‘YouTube stars are more recognizable to teen audiences than mainstream movie stars,’ which are the network’s bread and butter.” Whoa. Now I do feel old. —Kara Eschbach
A Model with Down Syndrome Is Going to Walk at New York Fashion Week
Earlier this year, the world was introduced to model Madeline Stuart. The 18-year-old from Brisbane, Australia, who has both Down Syndrome and a killer sense of fashion, made the announcement to her 435,000 Facebook fans that she booked not one but two runway shows at New York Fashion Week. Along with FTL Moda, Stuart will be walking for EverMaya, which is releasing a limited edition of handbags in her honor as well. The winning name of the line, voted by Maddy’s Facebook followers, is “The Madeline,” and the bags are already available for purchase. Although American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer was the first model with Down Syndrome to walk the NYFW runway, Madeline is the first globally recognized model to do it. She is flawless, and we can’t wait to see how many more barriers she’ll smash. —HAW
Trump Disses Women to Get Attention
Hardly had Donald Trump finished backpedaling from his sexist comment about Megyn Kelly when he inexplicably took aim at another wildly successful lady, Heidi Klum. After claiming, “I find women to be amazing,” he admitted that “sometimes I do go a little bit far.” As if we doubted or misunderstood him, he immediately went too far, stating, “Heidi Klum, sadly, she’s no longer a ten.”
Klum responded in expert fashion, of course, literally shrugging off his comment. Later on, she addressed the comments more seriously, saying, “In my book, every woman is a ten.” How about, every woman doesn’t deserve to be commodified and ranked against other women according to her perceived sexual appeal? —BS
Jimmy Carter Says His Cancer Has Spread
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter revealed this week that his cancer has spread to his brain. After treating cancer in his liver, doctors found four spots of melanoma on his brain. The 90-year-old announced that he will begin radiation treatment and stated, “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes.” —MRS
Jared Fogle Faces Charges in Court
Jared Fogle, known to most as the former Subway spokesman, had a court hearing this week describing charges against him for child pornography and soliciting minors. Not only was Fogle a child-porn addict, he allegedly paid for sex with a 17-year-old in New York’s Plaza Hotel before asking if she could find younger children to bring to him as well. It’s good that Fogle is meeting justice, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg when we consider how much online porn aims to provide younger and younger imagery for viewers (even the 18-year-old girls in Rashida Jones’ documentary Hot Girls Wanted were marketed to look younger, as their agent called them “teenyboppers”). One thing’s for sure: When it comes to online porn, we’ve got a growing cultural problem on our hands. —MRS
We Have a Paparazzi Problem
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked worldwide media publications not to buy unofficial photographs of Prince George, saying that the paparazzi harassment of the 2-year-old is increasing. Photographers have reportedly been hiding out—heavily disguised—in private places, using other children to lure Prince George into sight and pursuing cars leaving the family home (it seems the paparazzi did not learn anything from Princess Diana’s tragic death). The statement, which was released last Friday, said that “the readers who enjoy the publications that fuel this market for the unauthorised photos deserve to understand the tactics deployed to obtain these photos.” It is the royals’ hope that by bringing this issue to the public’s attention, they can open up a wider discussion about “the protection of children in a rapidly changing media landscape.” —SC
Wishful, Foolish Thinking
NBA player Matt Barnes announced to TMZ this week that he was “just past the crush stage” in a relationship with Rihanna. Rihanna was surprised to hear the announcement, as it turns out she’s never met the man. The singer posted an unflattering picture of the basketball player on her Instagram page, adding a comic string of reality-checking hashtags: “#shesnotthatintoyou #shesnotintoyouatall #shesneverevenmetyou #thisactuallyhurtmyfeelings #defamationofcharacter.” Seriously, people. Faking it isn’t the best way to score a date. —MRS
Good News of the Week
Every parent dreads planning a birthday party, sending out invites, and buying a cake for their child only to have no one show up. Well, that’s exactly the nightmare Lauren Sassmannshausen of Spring Hill, Tennessee, found herself in when only a few adults attended her daughter Taliyah’s fifth birthday on Saturday, despite multiple RSVPs to the event.
Instead of giving up, Sassmannshausen decided to open the invite to her community’s local Facebook page. “Does anyone have any kids [who] want to come over and celebrate my daughter’s birthday with us?” Sassmannshausen wrote. “Not one person has [shown] up except a few adults, and she keeps asking me where her friends are. It is seriously breaking my heart.”
Not much later, dozens of people showed up, including a number of children, to celebrate Tallie’s birthday. “Never in my life would I have thought we would have so many people care about a child they didn’t know,” Sassmannshausen wrote in a follow-up post on her Facebook page. “I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart, and I want to express my gratitude to you all for coming out and making my baby girl’s birthday so very special.” —HAW