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.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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"Top Gun: Maverick" reviews are raving.

If you're anything like me, when you heard that a "Top Gun" sequel was being made nearly three decades after the original, you may have rolled your eyes a bit. I mean, come on. "Top Gun" was great, but who makes a sequel 30 years later and expects people to be excited? Especially considering how scrutinizing both audiences and critics tend to be with second films.

Then I saw a trailer for "Top Gun: Maverick," and was surprised that it looked … super not terrible. Then more and more details about the film emerged, then more trailers and behind-the-scenes footage were released, then early reviews started rolling in and … you guys. You guysssss. I don't know how the filmmakers managed to pull it off, but everything about this film looks absolutely incredible.

And frankly, as a member of Gen X who saw the original "Top Gun" at least a dozen times, I could not be more thrilled. We deserve this win. We've been through so much. Many of us have spent the better part of the past two decades raising our kids and then spent the prime of our middle age dealing with a pandemic on top of political and social upheaval. We've been forgotten more than once—shocker—in discussions on generation gaps and battles. So to have our late-'80s heartstrings plucked by an iconic opening melody and then taken into the danger zone in what reviewers are saying is the best blockbuster in decades? Yes, please.

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When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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