We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.
To Infinity and Beyoncé
This week Beyoncé delivered another world-rocking surprise announcement. On Wednesday, she posted an artfully staged, if half-dressed, photo on Instagram featuring herself kneeling with her hand on her bare belly, her head veiled, and surrounded by flowers. “We would like to share our love and happiness. We have been blessed two times over. We are incredibly grateful that our family will be growing by two, and we thank you for your well wishes,” the message read, signed by “The Carters.” Within seven hours, the post became the most-liked photo ever on Instagram. Twitter Data said the announcement at one point spiked at 17,000 Tweets per minute.
I think it’s fair to say this goes beyond simple celebrity-news obsession. I think there’s something about seeing an empowered woman welcome a baby with joy that sparks a little hope in us all. We’ve seen it before with Beyonce’s last announcement, and with other celebrities.
Shortly after the post, a whole photo album of pregnancy photos was released on Instagram, some of which included Beyoncé’s daughter Blue Ivy, many surrounded by flowers, some taken underwater, and many of them revealing her bare baby bump. While I’m not a fan of public nudity and think some of the photos might have been better kept for her personal album, I can’t help but find Beyoncé’s palpable excitement contagious and her pregnancy announcement—including her later words, “I have three hearts”—nothing short of heartening. —Mary Rose Somarriba
Serena Williams Just Broke Another Amazing Record
Last weekend Serena Williams made history by breaking a record that was once thought to be unmatchable. Williams broke a tie with Steffi Graf for the most Grand Slam singles tournament wins in the Open Era—winning her twenty-third in Melbourne at the Australian Open. Williams, 35, defeated older sister Venus in straight sets. "Playing Venus, it's stuff legends are made of," Serena said. "There's no way I would be at twenty-three without her. There's no way I'd have won one without her. Tonight, it really didn't matter who won." "That's my little sister, you guys," Venus proudly told the crowd after she and Serena shared a long post-match hug at the net and received their trophies.
The question of who claimed the title of all-time greatest female tennis player was answered once and for all. As ESPNW put it, "That discussion is over. Now and forever." Even NBA great Michael Jordan took the time to recognize Serena's place in sports history: he sent her a custom pair of his famous sneakers. But more importantly, much talk following the win was about freeing Serena's accomplishments from gendered qualifiers. Rather than edifying her only in relationship to women, many are now demanding rather than suggesting—rightfully so—that she be seen as a legend among all.
This season of tennis has only just begun. We are excited to see what else the Williams sisters will do this year! —Emily Mae Schmid
Groundhog Predicts Six More Weeks of Winter
Every February 2 Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s favorite groundhog, makes an appearance. In accordance with tradition, Phil is pulled from his burrow to look for his shadow on a stump. The legend suggests that the appearance of his shadow will be followed by six more weeks of American winter. This was to be Phil’s 131st prediction since 1886, which is remarkable because the average life expectancy of a groundhog is six years. Logic aside, Phil saw his shadow, and thus the U.S. prepares for six more weeks of winter. Since records began, Phil’s shadow has appeared almost 87 percent of the time. However, subsequent predictions have only been accurate 39 percent of the time. —Maddy Kearns
Christina Ricci Says She’s Been Prejudged as a Short, Young-Looking Woman
Christina Ricci is speaking out about how things have not been great for women for a long time. The actress said in an interview this week, “I think that things are bad for women and have been bad for a long time, and I think just because this person has been elected, it's not anything new.” She shared that women often have to fight to be taken seriously. Ricci also says it’s not only men who fail to take women seriously; other women can be fall into the problems of society and fail to take women seriously. The star said she has a particularly difficult battle to fight to be taken seriously, “being very small and young-looking and an actress.” But her latest work Zelda is a reminder of her formidable talent.
Ricci credits age with making her a more secure and comfortable woman. She added that motherhood has also made her a “more normal person” and has “filled a void” in her life. The 36-year-old actress gave birth to her son Freddie with her husband, James Heerdegen, in 2014. Ricci went on to say that we, as women, have a responsibility to look at what is making things bad for women and change our own roles “before we expect people who don't have our life experience to understand." —Katie Faley
First Look at All-Female ‘Ocean’s Eight’
Ocean’s Eight is getting an exciting makeover—an all-female-headlining cast. Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, and Awkwafina comprise the star-studded team in the latest spinoff of the heist franchise. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "The tide will turn as Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala. Her first stop is to assemble the perfect crew.” Talk about #squadgoals.
The previous three films, Ocean’s Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen, proved to be quite successful—together grossing more than $1.1 billion worldwide. This film is directed by Gary Ross and is scheduled to hit theaters June 8, 2018. We’re anxiously awaiting to see these ladies in action. —Mary Brodeur
6-Year-Old Girls Already Have Gendered Beliefs
A study out of the University of Illinois is finding that gendered stereotypes about intelligence are already prevalent in children by age 6. Researcher Lin Bian presented a group of children with a story in which there are two male characters and two female characters. Bian read to the children that one of the four characters is “really, really smart” and “figures out how to do things quickly and comes up with answers much faster and better than anyone else.” After the story was over, Bian asked the group of kids which character they believe the story was about. At age 5, the majority of the kids chose their own gender as being the intelligent protagonist. However, by age 6 and 7, the boys were likely to choose their own gender, while the girls began to choose boys. In addition, the older girls also showed a lack of interest in games that were made for “really, really smart” children. Here's to hoping that we can do better for the next generation of girls. —KF
Taylor Swift’s Grammys Speech Becomes Girl-Power Ad
In light of the news above, a positive message for girls seems in order. This week a girl-power commercial proved that it doesn’t take a catchy song for Taylor Swift’s words to resonate with us. The advertisement for the 2017 Grammy Awards has us reliving Swift’s acceptance speech from last year’s ceremony, where she talked about the journey to success and the power of perseverance. The short video shows young girls reciting lines from Swift‘s speech, as they practice and push toward their own musical goals. The video captures the girls hard at work with their passions, in practice studios, or on stage. The end of the montage flashes to Swift herself, holding her award and ending the inspiring speech. The ad concludes with the message “Believe in Music,” as Swift’s message remind us to believe in ourselves. —Maleah Black
Peta Murgatroyd Is Starting Lifestyle Blog Called ‘All Things Fam and Glam’
Peta Murgatroyd, pro dancer from Dancing with the Stars, is not only adding mother to her repertoire but blogger as well. This week the star announced to People magazine that she is starting a lifestyle blog titled “All Things Fam and Glam,” where she will be helping readers find the balance between being a good parent and still making time for themselves. Peta’s blog promises to be relatable and helpful whether you are a soon-to-be mother, a someday-to-be mom, or have been a mommy for some time. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for the newly launched platform. —Maleah Black