By Amy & Nancy Harrington, the Pop Culture PassionistasThis week celebrities take off their make-up, dance for animal rights, overcome illness, open a shelter, and speak out about school budget cuts. Here are our favorite inspirational pop culture moments of the week.Jessica Simpson Inspires Us to Love OurselvesVery few actresses are brave enough to pose for a photograph without spending hours in hair and make-up. But Jessica Simpson will appear on the cover of the May issue of Marie Claire (due out April 13) completely natural. No blow-out, no hairspray, no false eyelashes, no Photoshopping. Simpson agreed to the photograph to promote a new initiative she started called “A Beautiful Me,” which encourages women to get in touch with their inner beauty and use that strength to make a difference. The “Dukes of Hazzard” star hopes that by exposing her own vulnerability, she will inspire women to love themselves.The program comes on the heels of her VH1 docu-series “The Price of Beauty,” on which she travels the world to discover how far women will go to feel beautiful.She told Marie Claire, “I don’t have anything to prove anymore. What other people think of me is not my business.”PETA Dances with the Stars and Adds Some Glee to Their RosterThis week People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) got support from two actresses who are getting a lot of attention these days. Lea Michele, who plays diva glee club singer, Rachel, on the hit Fox series “Glee.” Michele is the latest star to stand up against the use of fur in a PETA PSA. Holding a cute little Chihuahua named Sailor, she asks why “join a club that wears someone else’s coat?” Michele has been a vegetarian and animal rights activist for years, making her first PETA PSA when she was on Broadway in “Spring Awakenings.” PETA also got a big shot out from Pam Anderson on “Dancing with the Stars.” This week’s episode featured the celebrities telling a story through their routine. So when the animal rights activist was assigned the Pasodoble, the dance of the bullfight, the “Baywatch” beauty used the opportunity to speak out against cruelty to all our furry friends. It seems, Anderson owes her increased fan base to PETA, who tweeted and blogged to members to vote for their favorite dancer.A PETA spokesperson told, “Pam’s tireless work to expose cruelty in the meat and fur trades has created a very emotional bond with PETA’s two million members and supporters who are thrilled to see her and vote for her on ‘Dancing with the Stars.'” Maura Tierney’s ‘Rescue Me’ ReturnLast year TV fans heard sad news when actress Maura Tierney (of “NewsRadio” and “ER” fame) had to drop out of the Ron Howard series “Parenthood” to undergo treatment for breast cancer. As a side note, the role went to Lauren Graham who seems perfectly cast in the role. Now seven months later, Tierney is returning to TV, reprising her role as Kelly McPhee on the FX fireman drama “Rescue Me.” Since the show is shooting the final two seasons back-to-back, viewers will have to wait until Season 7 in 2011 for her next scene. But concerned fans will be happy to know that Maura is strong and is in remission. As her rep told “TV Guide” she, “has finished treatment and is doing very well and is happy to move forward with the next phase of her life.”Cyndi Lauper to Open Shelter for LGBT YouthCyndi Lauper is still going strong on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” And while audiences do not yet know her fate on the show, she has apparently won enough money for her charity, True Colors, to push forward a few big initiatives in her fight for gay rights.A few weeks ago, she gained a lot of attention with her Give a Damn” videos, mostly because of Anna Paquin’s admission that she is bisexual, encouraging everyone to get involved in gay issues. Following on the heels of those PSA’s, this week Cyndi announced her plans to open a homeless shelter for LGBT youth in New York. The True Colors Residence, scheduled to open sometime in 2011 in Harlem, will “contain 30 studio apartments, communal space, a library, and a computer room.”Lauper said, “Kids are coming out in greater numbers… but they’re still being kicked out of their homes or running away and living on the streets. We need to make sure we’re taking care of them. This is the next generation of the LGBT community.”Meagan Fox Rallies Against Education Budget CutsOver the past two years, California has faced $17 billion budget cuts in education programs and there’s another proposed $2.5 billion in reductions on the table. 23,000 Cali teachers have already received their pink slips leaving parents concerned about their kids’ classroom future. So what’s the sunny side of this very dark situation? A very inspiring group of Southern California parents are not taking the news lying down. The moms and dads of Wonderland Avenue Elementary’s PTA group turned to one of their own, former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Brian Austin Green (whose son attends the school) to star in a video to raise awareness of the issue. Lucky for them, he brought his mega-star girlfriend Megan Fox along and the Funny or Die video has spread faster than a California wildfire across the Internet. No word yet on how much money the “Hot for Teachers” short has helped raise, but if it’s even a teeny-tiny fraction of Fox’s “Transformer” money, that’s not bad. For more of the Pop Culture Passionistas, visit their website.

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