Welcome to the world of hobbyhorse — a teenage subculture in Finland that involves riding, walking, trotting and horse training, just without any actual horses. The sport, in which a rider’s lower body prances and gallops like a horse, while her upper body remains erect and motionless like a rider, originally flourished online, almost like a secret society. Now the craze has evolved into an elaborate network of coaches, students and competitions. It’s a celebration of girlhood and has become a national export, with championships held every summer in Helsinki. @kostyukov shot this photo at a #hobbyhorse competition in March. Watch our Instagram Story to see more, and visit the link in our profile to see the full story. #🐴
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The highest court in international sports has ruled that female athletes with elevated testosterone levels can be barred from some women’s track races — a blow to Caster Semenya, 2-time Olympic champion from South Africa, who had challenged those rules. She would now need to medically suppress her hormone levels to compete in events like the #Olympics . As part of the court battle, track and field’s world governing body, @iaaf_athletics, argued that athletes classified with “differences of sexual development” — particularly those who possess natural testosterone levels in the male range — gain an unfair advantage in women’s events from 400 meters to the mile in terms of additional muscle mass, strength and oxygen-carrying capacity. @castersemenya800m has argued that the rule stigmatizes women who do not conform to perceived notions of femininity. Her lawyers said in a statement that the 28-year-old’s “unique genetic gift should be celebrated, not regulated.” @nytmills shot this photo. Read more on the decision at the link in our profile.
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“The 3 fastest-growing areas of online communication are private messaging, groups and Stories,” said Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in an interview with The New York Times. On Tuesday, the company unveiled a redesign of its app and site that will promote these kinds of group-based communications instead of News Feed, and will make Facebook “more trustworthy,” Mark said. The redesign is the most tangible sign of how the privacy scandals and the user-data issues that have roiled @Facebook are forcing change at the company. “There’s still a lot more to do,” Mark said, adding that the spotlight on the company had “definitely prompted more introspection around what direction our services should go in.” @choutoo shot this portrait of @Zuck. Visit the link in our profile to read more from our interview.
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Carol Spencer, 86, may be the most influential fashion designer you’ve never heard of. From 1963 to 1999, she was @Barbie’s fashion designer, making wedding dresses, saris, go-go boots and caftans in miniature. It was rare that a woman could be a fashion designer back then, she said. “You could be a teacher, nurse, secretary or clerk, but wife and mother were the big ones.” @katierosman spent time with the doll dresser extraordinaire — drinking out of #Barbie tea cups! — in advance of the release of her new book, “Dressing Barbie,” which is out now. @emilyberl shot these photos for @nytimesfashion. Visit the link in our profile to read more.
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Speaking in Dance | “I’m meeting Merce through my body,” Mina Nishimura said of her new dance, “Hi, Merce! I Have a Question.” Before this section, she performs the movement from a Merce Cunningham improvisation. Then comes the residue: “I get carried away,” she said. “I continue dancing with his spirit, but it’s me.” Part of “In Conversation With Merce” at @nyuskirball on Friday and Saturday — Mina is one of 3 dance artists exploring their relationship to the choreographer — “Hi, Merce!” combines text with Mina’s effervescent take on Butoh, a dance form that emerged in post-World War II Japan. She sees a connection between Butoh and the wildness of Cunningham’s improvisation. “I could see that his excitement almost took over his body,” she told the #nytimes writer @giadk. “His hands were shaking, his head was everywhere and he was really trying to move his feet as fast as he could. It’s almost primitive.” @_flodur made this video for #SpeakingInDance , our weekly Wednesday series exploring the world of #dance .
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Pole dancing has largely shed its strip-club-only reputation — developing a wide following in the past 15 to 20 years among everyone, from people seeking a fun workout to athletes lobbying for its status as an #Olympic sport. Even at its most risqué, #poledancing requires great strength, especially in the core and upper body. A tolerance for the pain of skin gripping metal also helps. “There’s no G-strings, no nudity, nothing like that in our competitions,” said Wendy Traskos, the founder of the U.S. Pole Dance Championship. “But women have the freedom to express themselves in a sensual, sexy manner if they want.” @vnina shot these photos of Joscelyn Perez, 35, at the @uspdf competition earlier this month. Visit the link in our profile to view more.
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Like many first graders on their first day of school, Hwang Wol-geum cried. But these were tears of joy — and Wol-geum is 70 years old. As the birthrate in South Korea plummets, rural schools are emptying. To save itself from closing, Daegu Elementary in Gangjin has enrolled older villagers and grandmothers like Wol-geum who have dreamed of learning to read. Decades ago, Korean families often focused on educating their sons and many girls were expected to stay home and look after siblings while their parents worked. “I couldn’t believe this was actually happening to me,” Wol-geum said about going to school. “Carrying a school bag has always been my dream.” @nytchangster shot these photos. Visit the link in our profile to see more.
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When ISIS lost control of eastern Syria in March, it was hailed as a milestone. But the territory the Islamic State once ruled remains in shambles and insecure, its future uncertain. Having won the war, the U.S. risks losing the peace. Entire communities are destroyed, with little help to rebuild. A range of powers — the Syrian government, Turkey, Russia and militias backed by Iran — hope to fill the void left by the jihadists’ defeat. In recent visits to northeastern Syria, we found that the relief residents had over the territorial defeat of ISIS had been quickly overshadowed by the tenuous security and paralyzing uncertainty about where the region goes from here. @ivorprickett shot this video in Raqqa. Visit the link in our profile to see more.
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Tony Award nominations were just announced Tuesday morning. “Hadestown,” “Oklahoma!” and “The Prom” all got love but “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Network” were snubbed for the top awards. Nevertheless, “Mockingbird” was nominated in 9 categories, and “Network” in 5. The nominees for best #musical are “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations,” “Beetlejuice,” “The Prom,” “Tootsie” and Hadestown,” which led the way with 14 nominations. Best play nominees are “Choir Boy,” “The Ferryman,” “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” “Ink” and “What the Constitution Means to Me.” @TheTonyAwards will take place at 8 p.m. Eastern on June 9. @J_Corden is the host. Sara Krulwich shot these photos during “Hadestown,” “Network,” “Oklahoma” and “The Prom.” Visit the link in our profile to see the full list of nominees.
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“This CAKE. Moist - sweet - nostalgic - elevated - gone,” one @nytcooking reader wrote. This week, take a break and make this delicious rainbow sprinkle cake. Its rich icing and fluffy filling will have you coming back, bite after bite. Visit the link in our profile to get the #recipe , and tap the bookmark to save this #cake for later. @romuloyanesphotography shot this photo and @vivianhlui styled the dish. “You guys, seriously, this CAKE.”
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Welcome to Ikea’s highly secured design lab where roughly 10,000 company products — from Vittsjö coffee tables to Råskog utility carts — are evaluated. The space is housed at Ikea’s corporate headquarters in Almhult, a rural town in Sweden. Founded here in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad, #Ikea now has 422 stores spread across 50 countries and territories. @mikaelsjoberg.se shot these photos for #PowerSource , our recurring business series exploring spaces where power is exercised.
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Most people think of leprosy as a disease long gone. But India is struggling with a resurgence. Health workers here thought they had vanquished leprosy in 2005. But it lived on, cloaked in stigma and medical mystery. Now India bears 60% of the world’s cases, according to @who. Leprosy often starts with discolored, numb patches or tiny nodules under the skin. Left untreated, it leads to deformities and permanent disability. There’s no blood test for the disease, and scientists aren’t entirely sure how it’s transmitted, although contact with infected people is sometimes the cause. That’s one reason why awareness is important. But “because of discrimination and prejudice, we don’t talk about it,” one health worker said. “And because we don’t talk about it, we don’t know who’s got leprosy and who doesn’t.” For more on how organizations are trying to help, visit the link in our profile. @khandelwal_saumya shot this photo.
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