Mariah Carey opened up about bipolar diagnoses for the first time, and people are so grateful

Image: FilmMagic

Now more than ever, celebrities have been opening up about their experiences with mental health issues — and Mariah Carey now joins the ranks of the stars who hope to shatter stigma surrounding various disorders.

The singer, who is typically very private, got incredibly candid with Peoplein a new interview, revealing for the first time in her storied career that 17 years ago she was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder, which is marked by bouts of depression and mania, as well as sleeplessness and irritability.

“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she told People‘s editor-in-chief Jess Cagle. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”

Carey says she is regularly going to therapy and taking medication that strikes a “proper balance” for her and doesn’t leave her too tired or sluggish.

“I’m just in a really good place right now, where I’m comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder,” she explained. “I’m hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me.”

People are already lauding Carey on social media for speaking up, telling her story, and in the process, making the world a little less isolating for those who are bipolar. 

The full cover story with Carey in People will be available on Friday. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/11/mariah-carey-bipolar-disorder-interview/

Dead lizard found in bag of Trader Joe’s kale

If you’ve ever groaned at the prospect of eating kale, now you have the perfect excuse to back away from your health-conscious friend’s green smoothie. 

Grace Goldstein opened her fresh bag of Trader Joe’s kale on Tuesday, only to discover a dead lizard nestled among the leafy greens. Her friend shared the mildly gross image on Twitter to the joy of all those who reject the superfood. 

Goldstein told People magazine that after she made the shocking discovery, there was a lot of “asking [her] boyfriend to see the bag of kale and identify the lizard and shrieking and pushing it away and refusing to go near it…and then asking to see it again.” 

An understandable reaction to this grotesque find.

If you wanted a closer look at the unexpected salad guest, Goldstein also shared the photo on Instagram.

Goldstein told People that she reached out to Trader Joe’s corporate. The chain is investigating, but there have been no further updates. 

Trader Joe’s responded to Mashable’s inquiry about the incident:

“We are committed to providing customers with great products of the highest quality and are currently working with our vendor to look into and address the matter.”

Hopefully, this is an isolated incident that does not speak for all Trader Joe’s stores, bags of kale, or corporate-minded lizards.

UPDATE: April 5, 2018, 3:05 p.m. EDT This story was updated with comments from Trader Joe’s.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/05/trader-joes-kale-lizard/

The young activists you should be following for International Women’s Day

Image: Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images

International Women’s Day is an annual, global event that pushes for women’s rights. In today’s political climate, there’s a lot to be done in achieving equality.

Feminism isn’t all pink hats and snappy tweets — to be an intersectional feminist, you need to acknowledge the many levels of inequality that affect women worldwide. 

From young women fighting for access to clean water to those advocating for gun control or acceptance and trans rights, here are seven young activists you should know about for International Women’s Day. 

The woman tackling mental health stigma: Elyse Fox

A post shared by Elyse Fox (@elyse.fox) on

Elyse Fox runs Sad Girls Club, an online and in-person community dedicated to promoting mental health awareness among young women. The 27-year-old got her start on Tumblr, where she wrote about struggling with depression. She released a short documentary about her mental health called Conversations with Friends one year ago.

After releasing Conversations with Friends, Fox received hundreds of messages from other young women struggling with mental illness. She created Sad Girls Club as a community to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness and help other young women with access to therapy. In addition to the online platform, Sad Girls Club hosts monthly meetings in New York. 

How to follow Sad Girls Club:

Here are the Instagram and Twitter accounts for Sad Girls Club. You can follow Fox on Instagram, too, at @elyse.fox.

The teenager who organized a mass student walkout in NYC: Hebh Jamal 

When Hebh Jamal was 15, she was featured in a New York Times article about young people facing Islamophobia in the midst of the 2016 presidential election. After the story was published, Jamal was invited to speak at local schools, and became politically active. At 17 years old, the first generation Palestinian-American organized a mass student walk-out in New York City to protest Trump’s travel ban against majority-Muslim countries. 

Since then, she’s worked extensively to organize rallies and advocate against Islamophobic agendas. Still fresh out of high school, she’s now the Director of Public Relations of Integrate NYC, an advocacy group dedicated to diversifying public schools.

She told Broadly that although she understands that her activism is interesting because of her young age, she wants to create a movement of thousands of voices, not just her own. “I want to emphasize it isn’t about one person,” she said, “Although it’s really great that I’m able to have a platform that a lot of Muslim women are not able to have I really want to use it to emphasize that it needs to be a movement.” 

How to follow Jamal:

You can keep up with Jamal’s work on Twitter and Instagram.

The first transgender women’s officer in the British Labour Party: Lily Madigan

Did a tv interview for channel 4 x

A post shared by Lily Tessa Madigan (@lilytessamadigan) on

At only 20 years old, Lily Madigan is the first transgender person to hold public office as a women’s officer in the British Labour Party. She came out as trans when she was 16, but her Catholic high school threatened to suspend her if she presented as a woman in class and insisted on using her male name. Madigan visited law firms in London until she found one that would represent her for free. The school eventually apologized.

She was elected in November 2017 amidst pushback from other politicians who claimed that because Madigan was assigned male at birth, she was unqualified for the position of women’s officer.

Despite the transphobic tweets she’s received, she’s still determined to be the UK’s first trans member of Parliament. In a Guardian essay in remembrance of Harvey Milk, Madigan wrote: “I’m constantly attacked for running for women’s roles as a transwoman. Milk rightly spoke on ending the disenfranchisement of oppressed groups in politics, and how we can’t always be representative but we must be inclusive. To loosely paraphrase him: I fight for women because I’m one of them.”

How to follow Madigan:

You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram

The student taking on the NRA: Emma Gonzalez

Image: Rhona wise/Getty Images

Emma Gonzalez survived the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, and has since become an outspoken advocate for tougher gun control in the United States. Her Feb. 17 speech in Fort Lauderdale, three days after the shooting, went viral. She called out politicians who accepted donations from the NRA, and implored her audience to contact their local representatives. 

Gonzalez now has more Twitter followers than the NRA, and uses her platform to push for stronger gun control laws. 

The high school senior also confronted NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch during a CNN Town Hall and told her, “I want you to know we will support your two children in a way that you will not.”

In an essay for Harpers’s Bazaar, Gonzalez criticized the adults who were skeptical of the teen-led movement. “We have always been told that if we see something wrong, we need to speak up; but now that we are, all we’re getting is disrespect from the people who made the rules in the first place,” she wrote, “Adults like us when we have strong test scores, but they hate us when we have strong opinions.” 

How to follow Gonzalez:

You can keep up with Gonzalez’s activism on Twitter.

The woman who united Sioux youths to fight the DAPL: Jasilyn Charger

Jasilyn Charger co-founded the One Mind Youth Movement when she was 19 years old, after a wave of young people on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation died by suicide. The youth group, formed with Charger’s cousin Joseph White Eyes and friend Trenton Casillas-Bakeberg, petitioned the tribal council for youth safe houses. The youth movement became politically active and also protested the Keystone XL pipeline that would cut through the Cheyenne River and the Dakota Access pipeline that would go through the neighboring Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s land. 

Charger and White Eyes formed a prayer camp in Standing Rock called “Sacred Stone.” Although it received little support from tribal elders, it became a safe haven from drugs and alcohol for native teenagers. To further raise awareness, One Mind Youth Movement ran a 500 mile relay run from North Dakota to Nebraska to deliver a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers. The letter asked the Army Corp to deny the pipeline’s access to the Mississippi River. The run involved young people from several Sioux reservations, according to the New York Times

After the run, Charger and other members of the One Mind Youth Movement stayed at Standing Rock to continue to protest. She told Democracy Nowthat she wants more young women to get involved: “Don’t listen to the men. Don’t listen to people telling you to go away. Make that mind up for yourself.”

How to follow Charger:

Although Charger doesn’t have any public social media accounts, you can follow One Mind Youth Movement on Facebook.

The student who ran for city council: Nadya Okamoto

Nadya Okamoto made headlines last year when she ran for Cambridge City Council in Massachusetts at only 19 years old, making her the youngest candidate in the race. She ran on a platform of housing policy, focussing on the prevention of gentrification in Cambridge’s low-income neighborhoods. Although she ultimately lost the election, the Harvard College student remained active in civic engagement.

In 2014, she co-founded PERIOD, a nonprofit organization that distributes sanitary products to people in need, aiming to de-stigmatize menstruation through social and legal change. Okamoto’s family was homeless during her freshman and sophomore years of high school, and she noticed that care packages for homeless women often lacked menstrual products. 

She was inspired to create PERIOD after conversations with other homeless women, who often resorted to unconventional and unsanitary methods because they couldn’t afford pads and tampons. 

“It really is a huge obstacle to global development because it’s holding back more than half our population,” Okamoto told The Cut in 2016, “We say the menstrual movement is our push to make menstrual hygiene and menstruation a more open topic.”

How to follow Okamoto:

Follow Okamoto on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her work.

The girl fighting for clean water in Flint: Mari Copeny

Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny is one of the youngest activists on Twitter. The ten year old, who posts under the handle “Little Miss Flint” with her mother’s help, has been fighting for clean water in Flint, Michigan for the past few years. Copeny has organized water drives and distributed school supplies to other children in Flint, where costly bottled water claimed many families’ budgets. She also attended the Congressional hearings on the water crisis in Washington, DC. 

She became famous for her letter to then-president Barack Obama in 2016, which prompted him to visit Flint himself. “Letters from kids like you are what make me so optimistic for the future,” he wrote back. 

Copeny also met President Trump, who had a part in facilitating the $100 million EPA grant to fix Flint’s infrastructure. Her reaction to meeting him was noticeably different. She later criticized Trump in a video because “He didn’t even let me ask one question.” 

Copeny also raised $16,000 through GoFundMe to help underprivileged children in Flint see Black Panther. The campaign raised enough to buy 750 tickets and Black Panther merchandise, according to the Washington Post

Although Flint’s lead levels are low enough for federal standards, residents say they’re still experiencing negative effects. Copeny has been running a campaign called “Don’t Forget Flint,” selling shirts to remind people that the water crisis isn’t over. Proceeds will go to the anti-bullying program TSP.

How to follow Copeny:

You can follow Copeny on Twitter, where she frequently posts with her mother’s supervision.

The young advocates fighting for equality on all fronts show just what modern feminism should look like. There’s no such thing as “too young” to be an activist. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/08/young-activists-to-follow/

Parkland student stuffs bag with tampons in response to new transparent backpack rule

When the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School returned to campus after the March for Our Lives and their week-long spring break, they were less than thrilled with having to wear transparent backpacks.

After the mass shooting that killed 17 people on Feb. 14th, new security measures were put in place on Monday that are aimed at preventing future violence at the school.

Many students expressed their disappointment with the policy on social media, stating the bags are a violation of privacy and won’t really help all that much. 

But Cameron Kasky, one of the student leaders at the forefront of the #NeverAgain movement, decided to take a different approach.

On Tuesday morning, Kasky tweeted a picture of his clear backpack, filled with tampons.

What may seem like just teen shenanigans at first, actually has a much deeper meaning. Kasky followed up with a tweet clarifying his intentions.

In addition to being an activist for gun control reform, Kasky is educating himself about women’s health issues and is now advocating for easier access to menstrual products. 

Just when you think these teens can’t get any more powerful, they do

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/04/03/parkland-activist-backpack-tampons/

Lesbian and bisexual women have no health problems, says government health agency

Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Image: chris kleponis-pool/Getty Images

Congratulations, everyone! Lesbian and bisexual health problems are officially over.

Or so it would seem, if you believe the Department of Health and Human Services’ website. According to the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency project, HHS removed pages from it’s Office on Women’s Health site that focused on lesbian and bisexual women’s health.

HHS told Politico, who first reported the story, that the pages were taken down because of a “routine update.” However, they appear to have been gone since September — and none of the missing information has been restored to the site.

Bisexual and lesbian health is no longer listed as a topic on the page, which has existed since 2012. @WomensHealth, the official HHS Twitter account, hasn’t had an update about lesbian and bisexual women’s health since 2016.

“The removal of lesbian and bisexual health materials in particular, without advance notice and in a targeted way, raise concerns that they’ve targeted information for vulnerable populations,” Andrew Bergman of the Sunlight Foundation told Politico.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has eliminated critical information about at-risk groups from government websites. When Trump was elected, one of the first things to go was the government’s official page on LGBTQ rights. In October 2017, the EPA eliminated references to climate change on their website. In December, the National Park Service took down climate change plans for over 90 parks.

Nothing to see here, folks! Lesbian and bisexual women are in perfect health, and climate change doesn’t exist. 

Proceed normally — with a chronic sense of despair.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/21/lgbtq-womens-health-removal-hhs/

Trump offers a big thumbs up to school shooting victims instead of gun control

Trump flashes a thumbs up before boarding Marine One, destined for Florida where he will meet with victims and first responders after a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Image: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

On Friday, President Donald Trump visited Parkland, Florida in the wake of a school shooting in a high school that left 17 people dead. But Trump has faced criticism over the way he carried himself during that visit.

After an awkward meeting with first responders, the president and first lady Melania Trump stood together for a friendly photo op, which in itself seems insensitive. Trump had a huge smile on his face in the photo, and flashed his now signature thumbs up.

Trump updated his Twitter cover photo with the picture from the meeting Friday evening.

Image: Twitter/Realdonaldtrump

Trump also visited Broward Health North hospital in Pompano Beach, where many of the victims received care after the shooting. On his official Instagram, a series of images posted in an album featured Trump wearing a large smile on his face, flashing a thumbs up in a photo with hospital staff.

The press asked Trump if he met with any victims at the hospital. Instead of speaking about the impact those meetings may have had on him as a president, as a human, Trump decided to fluff up the hospital.

“Fantastic hospital, and they have done an incredible job,” Trump boasted. “The doctor was amazing, we saw numerous people and incredible recovery. And first responders — everybody — the job they’ve done was in incredible.”

Trump then congratulated a doctor he was standing next to.

While yes, first responders and hospital staff should be thanked and praised for their hard work in wake of the shooting, congratulations here are completely tone deaf considering 17 people lost their lives in the attack. 

In any other presidency, this would be a time for mourning. But Trump is using it to boast and brag. 

Many were quick to criticize Trump for his demeanor on social media, with some pointing to Barack Obama’s reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre in December of 2012. In 2016, Obama also delivered a powerful and emotional speech on gun violence, in which he broke down crying

Obama’s official White House photographer, Pete Souza, who has made it his duty to criticize the Trump administration by way of his photography from the Obama era, uploaded a photo of Obama sitting alone in a classroom in Sandy Hook Elementary School. It captures the former president in a quiet moment after he met with families for hours, and before he attended a prayer vigil. 

While it often seems like President Trump’s actions couldn’t be more shocking, this type of behavior is disgusting, and the heavy criticism is merited. There’s a time for photo ops, and then there is time for mourning. This was not the moment for Trump to show off how great he’s making America.

America has a real problem, and Trump isn’t even trying to fake it.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/17/donald-trump-parkland-smiling-thumbs-up-obama/

The Vatican Hosts a Hackathon

In recent years, organizations have used hackathons to find code-enabled solutions for everything from the opioid crisis to gerrymandering. It's hard to imagine a field where a hack day hasn't been utilized to solve one problem or another. But tomorrow a group of budding entrepreneurs, developers, and technologists will be making hackathon history: participating in the first-ever codefest in Vatican City.

The event, VHacks, is bringing together 120 students for a 36-hour hackathon aimed at finding technological solutions for three global issues the Catholic Church hopes to address: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and assistance for migrants and refugees.

The seed of the idea sprouted last year when Jakub Florkiewicz, a student at Harvard Business School, met the Reverend Eric Salobir, founder of Optic, the first Vatican-affiliated think tank on technology and Monseigneur Lucio Ruiz from the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. Salobir had helped organize hackathons through Optic before, in San Francisco and Paris, but he was thinking of coordinating one at the church's enclave in Rome. "In the past couple of years, the Vatican has been in a period of transformation initiated by Pope Francis, including in terms of using digital technologies and digital media," Salobir says. "This is the first [hackathon] at the Vatican, so it is very symbolic."

In his tenure, Francis has embraced social media—he has 17 million Twitter followers and more than 5 million devotees on Instagram—and even spoke last year at TED, the conference famous for drawing flocks of thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and technologists. But he’s also openly discussed the peril of technology. In his second encyclical, Laudato Si’, released in 2015, Francis directly addressed technology’s influence and implications in a lengthy chapter titled, "The roots of the ecological crisis." In it, he asked that the church focus on the "dominant technocratic paradigm and the place of human beings and of human action in the world" and examine the globalization of that paradigm.

Because technological applications can have international impacts, the organizers of the hackathon focused on soliciting participants from universities and programs around the world, looking for candidates from different backgrounds and faiths. "A key message on this event is collaboration and working together on the issues we all experience," Florkiewicz says. "Even if it’s facilitated by the Vatican as a religious institution, it’s a completely non-religious event."

Salobir agrees. "The point is not just to use it for the parishioners or the congregations, but to use technology for a broader purpose, to help society," he says, noting the church also works with institutions like schools and hospitals to bring aid to as large a constituency as possible.

But as society continues to question whether technology is the problem or the solution, the participants of VHacks have a big task ahead of them.

"We don’t expect anyone to solve such difficult issues," says Florkiewicz, "but I hope we can inspire both clerics and lay people to see this as an innovative model for engaging the younger generation with the problems."

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/vatican-hackathon-2018/

Trump shows gun control hypocrisy in wake of latest school shooting

PARKLAND, FL – FEBRUARY 15: Kristi Gilroy (R), hugs a young woman at a police check point near the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 people were killed by a gunman yesterday, on February 15, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Police arrested the suspect after a short manhunt, and have identified him as 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz.
Image: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Displaying a cognitive dissonance that’s become common with him, President Donald Trump on Thursday made a reference to the alleged mental instability of the young man accused of the deadly Parkland, Florida school shooting. 

Though just last year he signed a bill that made it easier for those with mental illnesses to obtain guns. 

Speaking to the American public from the White House, Trump said of the fallout, “We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.”

The comments echoed those that Trump made Thursday morning (where else?) on Twitter, calling the alleged shooter “mentally disturbed.”

But even as he lamented the mental health of the alleged shooter, Trump failed to mention that one year ago, he rolled back an Obama Administration regulation that would add the names of around 75,000 individuals declared incapable of managing their own financial affairs to the federal background check list.

While it’s unlikely the regulation would have directly blocked the Parkland shooter from obtaining a gun — it depended largely on data from the Social Security Administration and it doesn’t appear, so far, that the Parkland shooter met the criteria of the regulation — it does show a president whose words are at odds with his actions.

This isn’t the first time Trump has brought up the mental stability of a mass shooter. In October 2017, after a man opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds, Trump called the shooter “a sick man, a demented man, lot of problems.”

And yet Trump’s only action on guns as president was to weaken a relatively minor gun regulation that would have kept a group of mentally ill citizens from buying guns. 

In fact, Trump didn’t mention guns at all in the speech nor did he address the fact that the Florida shooter used an AR-15 assault rifle, the same rifle used in several other mass shootings, and that he bought the gun legally

If there’s one thing Trump has been consistent on, it’s his insistence there’s no need for gun control, something that came up during the 2016 presidential campaign thanks to one of his more incendiary comments (which is saying something). 

So, as the nation tries to move forward from yet another tragedy (and one that claimed the lives of innocent students, once again), we’re left to try and make sense of Trump’s views. Though he offered words of comfort on Thursday, the comfort feels thin as he continues to ignore the glaring issues that have led to a numbing cycle of gun violence. 

When his only direct action runs counter to the safety and protection he promises us as a nation — and to our children, who he directly addressed in Thursday’s brief speech — all those words simply ring empty, hollow platitudes that do nothing to actually make us safer.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/02/15/trump-mental-health-guns-parkland-school-shooting/

Aly Raisman sues U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for lack of action against Nassar

Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman files lawsuit over Larry Nassar abuse.
Image: Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DirecTV

Aly Raisman, Olympic gold medalist and role model empowering women to speak out against harassment, is suing the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for lack of action taken against former team physician Larry Nassar.

After Raisman and more than 100 women spoke out and filed civil actions against Nassar, saying he had continually sexually assaulted them during treatment sessions over the years, he was sentenced to 40-to-175 years in prison for seven charges and 40-to-125 years for three additional charges. But in the months leading up to Nassar’s sentencing, Raisman called out the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics for not doing more to stop the physician from harming people.

The gymnast is now suing the two organizations, alleging they should have taken more action to prevent the abuse and conducted a thorough investigation, NBC News reported.

The lawsuit, filed in California, alleges that both U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics had knowledge of Nassar’s history of past sexual abuse against minors but let the mandatory treatment of her and many other young women take place for years.

Despite the organizations being notified of his behavior, Raisman said Nassar was never punished and no one with the direct power to do so intervened in the situation. In fact, the lawsuit claims that when Maggie Nichols, a national team member, reported the abuse to USA Gymnastics in 2015, the organization took more than a month to alert the FBI. The document also claims that USA Gymnastics did not alert Michigan State University, where Nassar was also practicing medicine, of the situation at the time.

“After all this time, they remain unwilling to conduct a full investigation, and without a solid understanding of how this happened, it is delusional to think sufficient changes can be implemented,” Raisman said in a statement to NBC News. “I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing. It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed.”

Raisman also said she still experiences depression, anxiety, and fear to this day as a result of Nassar’s abuse.

The lawsuit comes weeks after the USA Gymnastics board resigned amid the scandal. U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun’s resignation was also announced on Feb. 28, citing health issues, and the committee is launching a new set of guidelines to ensure athletes are protected in the future.

In addition to the two sentences for sexual assault charges, Nassar was also sentenced to 60 years in prison for child pornography crimes. Ultimately, Nassar got what amounts to a life sentence. As part of a plea deal, Nassar agreed to listen to victim impact statements from women and girls who reported abuse. More than 250 told their stories during sentencing hearings in two Michigan counties.

You can read Raisman’s full lawsuit against the USOC and USA Gymnastics here.

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/02/aly-raisman-sues-usa-gymnastics-usoc-over-larry-nassar/

Yoga with Adriene’s founder won YouTube with her message of self-love — and self-deprecating humor

Adriene Mishler isn't the only star of Yoga with Adriene. Her fans love her sidekick, Benji the blue heeler, almost as much as they love downward dog.
Image: yoga with adriene/Mashable composite

Adriene Mishler exudes plenty of mushy-gushy spiritual thinking, but the yoga evangelist embraces something else, too: self-deprecating humor.

That’s part of what has made her so accessible to her 3.2 million YouTube subscribers. When she mentions self-love or chakras, she bookends it with “Okayyyy, Adriene,” or when she directs you to sit in a cross-armed-cross-legged pretzel of a pose as you lift your head, she mumbles, “This is like Ariel on the rock, speaking to my generation, a little mermaid joke.” 

It’s why her fans call her goofy and authentic, an overused cliche in the YouTube world, but they really mean it. They insist! There’s just something about Adriene. 

If you’re already rolling your eyes, take a deep, cleansing breath. It’s worth trying to wrap your head around why this particular woman has the top six videos when you search “yoga” on YouTube and dominates Google search.

Adriene has been hosting free yoga videos on Yoga with Adriene since 2012.

Image: Yoga with Adriene

At the moment, Adriene is taking mental notes about Peru. When the 33-year-old tells me she rearranged her schedule to take adult Spanish classes so she can teach yoga when she visits Spanish-speaking countries, I mention one of her fans in Peru already translates her videos into Spanish. A Peace Corps volunteer there leads about 25 students, ages 5 to 84, in an hour-long flow, Monday through Friday.

“Wow, I just got the chills,” Adriene says.

You see, one of Adriene’s other fans from the Netherlands, who followed her yoga classes on a European tour like a Deadhead, recently quit her job as a vice principal and moved to Peru, where she founded a nonprofit teaching yoga to underserved children, with Yoga with Adriene’s motto, “Find What Feels Good,” at the core. It’s called Con Pazion, and Adriene’s sponsor, Adidas, donated $10,000 to the budding organization on her behalf. Yoga with Adriene fans have also donated, with some now sitting on Con Pazion’s board.

“It’s all starting to fall into place somehow,” Adriene says. 

Leonie van Iersel, the Yoga with Adriene fan who founded Con Pazion (center), and her students.

Image: COn Pazion

Although her mother is Mexican-American, Adriene never learned Spanish as a child. She jokes that she probably knows more Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language used in yoga practice, than Spanish. When she was in high school, she took American Sign Language instead because she had deaf friends. 

While she’s excited to learn, it means she has to give up something she’s done for a decade, even after her meteoric YouTube rise: teach yoga, IRL, on Saturday mornings. 

For yoga instructors, a Saturday morning studio slot means you’ve made it. And moving on fills her with bittersweet nostalgia. 

“I used to joke that the only people who would come to my classes are my friends and my mom, and of course I would never let any of them pay.”

“Yoga with Adriene” was the most googled workout in 2015. She won a 2016 Streamy Award in the Health and Wellness category, and in January of this year Google searches for “Yoga with Adriene” reached an all-time high — spiking by 40 percent since November 2017. 

But she didn’t start out intending to be an internet sensation. When she was 19, she’d sub, teach kids’ classes, and lug around a jam box and burnt CDs all over her hometown of Austin — anything to teach yoga.

“I used to joke that the only people who would come to my classes are my friends and my mom, and of course I would never let any of them pay, and then I’d end up paying rent at the studio where I was teaching and not making any money,” she said. 

She wouldn’t disclose her YouTube revenue, but according to analytics firm SocialBlade, Yoga with Adriene pulls in anywhere from $3,000 to $45,000 a month. (It’s a big range, but YouTube estimates are often like that due to complicated ad schemes.) That doesn’t include intake from her subscription video service, Adidas sponsorship, events, or merchandise. She’s currently writing a book about her relationship with yoga and planning her own yoga teacher training program.

Yoga with Adriene encourages viewers to “find what feels good.”

Image: Yoga with Adriene

Back when Adriene was losing money on her yoga classes, she taught children drama and acted on the side. It was on an indie movie set where she met Chris Sharpe, the film’s director, who’d later become her business partner and the Greg to her Dharma.  The movie was about a girl band in a post-apocalyptic world. At first Adriene passed on it — she had auditioned for Juilliard, she had trained in New York, she wanted to do theater — but was convinced when she heard her friend was part of the cast. That friend later married Sharpe and now has her own YouTube cooking channel. 

“It never got finished and I do thank god for that because we had quite the get-ups,” Adriene says, giggling.

After the movie fell apart, Chris emailed Adriene in 2010, pitching a yoga YouTube channel. But the idea just sat there, gestating for two years until the duo made Yoga with Adriene’s first video. The actor in Adriene wanted to nail every moment, but Chris encouraged her to relax and act like Mr. Rogers inviting people into her home. After that, it clicked. 

All Adriene wanted to do was provide free at-home yoga for the masses when most classes cost between $15 and $20. It took her awhile to warm up to the social media circus and SEO-focused video titles. Her library of under 30-minute videos is diverse, to say the least: There’s yoga for mornings, bedtime, teachers, depression, golfers, disasters, a broken heart. You name it, she’s probably got it. And her blue heeler, Benji, is often seen lounging around, sometimes snuggling up on the mat as she maneuvers around him.

“I was nervous to take yoga out of its sacred space and slapdash it into this digital space,” says Adriene. “That’s why it took forever for me to title any video ‘Yoga for weight loss’ or ‘Yoga for flow.’”

But it’s titles like those that likely pushed her to the top of Google and YouTube search.  

“It’s very savvy how she structured it,” said Allon Caidar, a YouTube metadata expert and founder and CEO of TVPage, a video commerce platform. Adriene focuses on keywords and has more than one video about highly-searched topics, he points out. Despite multiple high-profile YouTuber scandals (ahem Pewdiepie, ahem Logan Paul), Caidar predicts that marketing budgets focused on influencers like Adriene, especially in the lifestyle and health sectors, will grow this year.

Adriene jokes that one April Fools’ Day she wants to upload the same video with two titles: one focused on self-love and another on weight loss to test which gets more views. 

“Just to kind of prove a point,” she says. “With the titles, I’m using the platform to bring more people to the mat.”

Yaiza Varona, a 39-year-old in the UK, found Adriene because of her high ranking. She was browsing for a yoga video on YouTube, clicked the first one, and now she’s a Yoga with Adriene disciple. 

“If she said paint yourself blue, I’d do it. At this moment, I trust whatever she says because it feels so right,” the music composer says. “I’m not that much into yoga as a philosophy, but she brings it down to Earth. She focuses so much on enjoying being in your body.”

Megan-Eileen Waldrep, the Peace Corps volunteer in Peru, says it may sound silly, but to her, Adriene feels like a friend. 

“She makes jokes or weird references and then says under her breath, ‘I don’t know why I said that,’ which is hilarious. It’s an unedited flow of her stream of consciousness and yoga,” the 25-year-old from Chicago says.

There are critics who deride Adriene for being “that YouTube yogi,” though. 

“They’re judging a book by its cover, and they don’t understand that I’ve poured my whole little heart and soul into trying to be mindful of how I share this information,” she says. 

Adriene is used to pouring her heart and soul into things. She’s been doing it since she was a kid. Over Christmas, she was laughing with her dad about how she spent hours as a child recording her own theater and dance shows on VHS. Decades later, she’s still filming her own productions, only now she has a core staff of four.

Adriene’s been in some indie movies, she plays a journalist in Rooster Teeth’s Day 5, and has voiced characters like Lois Lane and Supergirl for DC Universe Online. She’ll keep acting even as she expands her yoga business, she says. It’s a dream she can’t shake.

You may see her at an event with hundreds of people doing yoga in a cavernous room — she uses a special mic because she had two vocal cord surgeries due to a benign tumor — but you’ll also still get a free video on YouTube every week. And if you watch those videos, you’ll be in on the joke when the floor creaks beneath your feet, just like Adriene’s does at home.

“I would love for us to look back and go, ‘Remember when yoga was this thing you went to at the gym, and now it’s like brushing your teeth, washing your vegetables, taking a shower, something that you do in your home regularly,'” she says. “We’re not far from that. I’d like to look back and know that I did my part to trailblaze that offering.”

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/07/yoga-with-adriene/