Fatphobia is real. Here's how it affected one woman.

Last August, I did a family photo shoot with a professional photographer at our beach house in Connecticut.

The beach — one of those quiet, private spots where you can actually hear yourself think — was on the Long Island Sound, and the water was calm. My nephews ran around like maniacs the entire time, laughing and having fun. By all accounts, it should have been the perfect late-summer evening with my fantastic family.

But all I could think about was how fat I felt.


I was wearing a white, chiffon dress from Forever21 (let's just ignore the fact that I was 28 at the time) and a bra that was about a half cup too small. My arms felt ungainly, and my underwear was acting like a hellish pair of Spanx — way too tight and cutting into my stomach. I felt constricted and messy and just not pretty.

Amy Schumer doing a fashion shoot. GIF via BuzzFeed and Glamour Magazine.

I had gained 20 pounds over the previous year due to depression, anxiety, and a medication.

I felt out of control in my body despite the fact that, by all appearances, I actually wasn't fat. I wasn't even really that overweight. I was 20 pounds up from a weight I had designated “good enough" back when I was a junior in college. And that weight was even another 15 pounds up from my absolute lowest, at a time when I was 24 years old and eating nothing but egg whites and the like.

When I saw the proofs a few days later after my parents had picked them up from the photographer, I felt numb.

I thought I looked like a monster.

I had been a stocky child, but when I hit high school, I gained more weight. Then I went on to college to a drama program that insisted that fat people were just "butterflies that hadn't burst forth from their cocoons of excessive flesh." My acting teacher, for example, told me that "castability" was paramount and that I needed to get my weight down if I wanted to be considered for more parts.

The first two years of my acting career weren't at all about improving my craft but about the frustrations I felt about having to "discipline" my body. Disciplining, of course, implying that my body was somehow misbehaving by daring to be anything other than thin.

After I finally lost weight through slightly nefarious means (kickboxing twice a day and a diet of tuna sandwiches and green tea), one of my acting teachers said to me, encouragingly, “You look beautiful. But you could lose even more weight around your hips."

One of my acting teachers said to me, encouragingly, “You look beautiful. But you could lose even more weight around your hips."

GIF from "Friends."

I thought about that every single time I engaged in compulsive restricted eating and overexercising: "You could lose even more."

Gradually I healed my disordered eating, but the fatphobia stayed present in my mind.

Fatphobia is an invasive, corrosive fear of getting fat and of fat people themselves, and it's a constant presence in our society despite the various efforts of body-positive models, bloggers, and YouTubers.

People tend to assume that fat people hate the fact that they're fat (like everyone on "The Biggest Loser") or that the fat is a stepping stone on the way to a healthy (read: skinny) physique.

My weight had nothing to do with what I was doing or eating. But people see a heavier person and draw their own conclusions about their health. I ended up going to the doctor, where I was told that the weight gain wasn't a result of anything I had done and that I would just have to “wait it out."

That meant I couldn't do anything about it at that second. Normally, I'm a horribly impatient person. But it was actually kind of freeing to realize I didn't have to control what my body looked like. It forces you to see the bigger picture.

Instead of "waiting it out" and locking myself inside until one day I magically became a skinnier version of myself, I decided to try being OK with how I looked. No, that wasn't enough — I would love how my body looked.

Demi Lovato on overcoming her negative feelings.

I was wasting so much time hating my body.

I looked at people like Tess Holliday, a model and the creator of the #EffYourBeautyStandards movement, and realized I was wasting my time hating my body.

There were so many other great things about me, like my writing career, my vast knowledge of random information about the "Lord of the Rings" movies, and my ferocious love for my family and friends.


I'm someone who always strives to know more about myself — I ended up getting into therapy last year, which proved immensely helpful in my journey to understanding why my hatred for my own body (the glorious, amazing thing keeping me alive every day!) ran so deep.

I realized that I cared way too much about what other people thought of me.

I'm someone who has a bone-deep desire to be liked. By everyone. And I thought the way to do that was to change the way my body looked. To change the way I looked. And I was so, so wrong.

Learning how to love myself changed everything for me.

I started wearing clothes that fit my body rather than trying to jam myself into things that didn't fit. I cultivated space for myself, speaking out and lending my voice to social and feminist issues. Sure, some friends faded away, but others got even closer to me.

I worked out in ways that were fun rather punishment for my body. I started going to spinning classes and got back into yoga. I ate food that was delicious but also healthy because that's what made me feel good, even if it didn't make me lose weight.

And most importantly, I came to realize that there are so many wonderful people in this world who deserve love and happiness, and no matter what size I am, I'm one of them.

In a world of poisonous self-deprecation and self-loathing, loving yourself isn't just refreshing. It can be revolutionary.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via Hennepin County Sheriff

The verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minnesota police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd, has many breathing a sigh of relief. Even though the disturbing video evidence of Floyd dying under Chauvin's knee is impossible to refute, it's incredibly hard to convict an officer of murder.

The United States judicial system is so preferential to law enforcement that even though the world saw murder in broad daylight, many were skeptical of whether he'd be convicted.

"Most people, I think, believe that it's a slam dunk," David Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert in policing, told the Washington Post before the trial. "But he said, "the reality of the law and the legal system is, it's just not."

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.