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Snowboarding gold medalist Chloe Kim gets real about her mental health struggles and triumphs

Chloe Kim

When world champion gymnast Simone Biles opened up out about her struggles with mental health after dropping out of the Tokyo Olympics last summer, the world heard something we rarely hear from superstar athletes: I'm human, too.

It's easy to see someone who excels at the top of their field, doing things no one has done before, as superhuman. We even use that word to describe their feats sometimes, but it's important that we remember every person is a complex mix of mind, body and spirit. We know it takes an enormous amount of resilience and mental fortitude to make it to an international podium in any sport, but no one is immune to mental health ups and downs. And the top of the podium is sometimes where athletes feel those ups and downs the most intensely.

At 21, Chloe Kim just won her second Olympic gold medal for the U.S. in the snowboard halfpipe at the Beijing Olympics, becoming the first woman to take home back-to-back gold medals in the sport. But after she won in PyeongChang in 2018, she began to question if it was all worth it. In fact, at one point, she even threw her first gold medal in the trash at her parents' house.


“I hated life,” Kim told TIME. International fame had hit hard and fast. At 17, despite being known as a prodigy in the snowboarding world, Kim was used to living a normal teenage life. Suddenly, going to her favorite bakery to grab a bite to eat became an ordeal.

“The minute I come home, I can’t even go to my goddamn favorite place,” Kim said. “It makes you angry. I just wanted a day where I was left alone. And it’s impossible. And I appreciate that everyone loves and supports me, but I just wish people could understand what I was going through up to that point."

She did fish her medal out of the trash, but the mental toll of high-pressure competition and overnight fame remained.

And it wasn't just having all eyes on her that was the issue. Some of those eyes were accompanied by mouths spewing anti-Asian hate her way.

"I experience hate on a daily basis," Kim wrote in an ESPN op-ed last April. She shared that she sees maybe 30 hate-filled messages a day, such as "You dumb Asian b----. Kiss my ass."

Kim wrote that when she won her first X Games medal at 13, she started hiding parts of her identity—like the fact that she speaks Korean fluently—after people belittled her accomplishment because she's Asian. She felt embarrassed by her heritage due to people's responses, but now she feels guilty about how disrespectful that was to her dad, who came to the U.S. to give his family a better life.

In a recent powerful video produced by P&G Everyday, Kim shared the role her father played in helping shape the confidence and determination to become the Olympic champion she is today.

Being in the spotlight at such a young age put her in an uncomfortable position in dealing with the racism that came her way, both internally and externally.

"I was expected to speak up and be an activist," she wrote. "It was a lot of responsibility. I still don't know how to talk about all of this. It's difficult to talk about these things. In snowboarding, all my friends are white and no one had these conversations."

In addition to—or perhaps because of—the racism, the sudden fame and burn-out from competition, Kim felt "an emptiness" after her gold medal win in PyeongChang. That's when she decided to take a break from snowboarding to go to college at Princeton in the fall of 2019.

She couldn't escape her fame, however, and the first part of the semester was rough. She'd frequently call home crying. Soon she started making friends who didn't know much about her, which helped broaden her own horizons. Her time at Princeton also allowed her to see other driven, talented people struggling to succeed—and sometimes failing—which was good for for her, she told TIME.

“Everyone around me was falling apart when it came time to do an exam,” Kim said. “It’s a sh-t show. People are hiding away in the darkest part of the library until 3 in the morning, and then coming out like zombies at 7 and doing it all over again. That was great. It was just like, ‘I need this. I need to see other amazing people fall apart.’”

After the pandemic hit and in-person classes were canceled, Kim returned to snowboarding—and embraced therapy for her anxiety.

"It's been a big improvement in my mental health," she told Shape magazine. "I'm learning to open up more and communicate my feelings with people around me."

And that's part of what makes Kim's victory in the Olympics so significant. It's an inclusive victory for countless millions who work to overcome adversity, mental health challenges and the rigors of everyday life. Very few of us will stand as Olympic champions but we can all appreciate Kim's incredible journey as a person deserving of respect.

"Now I am so proud to be Korean American," she wrote on ESPN.com. "I was nervous to share my experiences with racism, but we need to hear more about these conversations. I've received so many messages from people saying they are inspired by me sharing what I've been through and that makes me feel hopeful, and like I can still do so much more."

Thank you Chloe Kim. Spoken like a true champion.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”