My heart sunk in such a familiar way when I first learned about "Fat Chance."

The TLC show explores the weight loss journeys of people looking to fall in love. “Why would someone love me, looking like this?” one contestant asks, staring at her soft body in a full-length mirror.

Wherever we go, someone is constantly asserting the life of loneliness, isolation, and lovelessness to which fat people are doomed. It is heartbreaking and it is false.


I think about the technicolor loves I have had, the partners who have loved and wanted me. I think about the fat people I have fallen for and the fat friends and family who are happily married, hooking up, falling in love, and calling affection into their lives.

Unlovable is ubiquitous and deeply untrue. After all, if fat people were truly impossible to love, two-thirds of the country would be condemned to a life of solitude and longing. But unlovable has gained so much momentum that it has taken on a life of its own, a self-fulfilling prophecy that shapes the thinking of my friends and family, showing up jagged and sharp in their tender mouths.

Even friends who are critical about popular depictions of fat people have a hard time. When we talk about "Fat Chance," their answers are startlingly similar. One after another, upon seeing the contestants: "I mean, look at her, she’s not even that fat."

There it is, unlovable, its toothy serrated blade cutting as deep as ever.

I know that’s not what they intend to say. They mean the world has gone haywire if this woman is considered fat. They mean an impossible standard has been set if a handsome, broad-shouldered man feels like he’s too fat. They are startled seeing bodies that look so much like theirs being discussed as irredeemably, unlovably fat.

It’s a common response to seeing fat-shaming of all kinds.

She’s not that fat. Because if she is, they might be too. They are awakened to a new level of self-consciousness, wondering if maybe they should’ve felt even more ashamed all this time. In that moment, they disappear into themselves, consumed by a new depth of surprise and shame.

She’s not even that fat.

But I am always that fat. When strangers bring up cartoonish numbers — I mean, would being fat be OK if she was 300 pounds? — I am their exaggerated example. I am the person they dread sitting next to on the plane, the one who avoids eye contact with strangers for fear of the slurs that follow, the one who orders salads in public in hope of being spared judgment, comment, or shaming. I have always been that fat. I have always been fair game.

She’s not even that fat. But they’d understand if they were saying it about me. She’s not deserving of such scorn, but there’s someone who is. There’s someone who’s that fat. There’s me.

“I mean, I know you think you know what you’re seeing, but I’m pretty fat,” you said, fixing your lipstick and adjusting your size-10 dress in a department store bathroom mirror. Behind you, my soft body, size 26, is a sharp contrast.

I furrow my brow and again, my heart sinks. You, willowy and lithe. You, cheekbones and clavicle. You, pretty fat. But, dear friend, you are never that fat.

I turn this moment over in my head, examining it carefully. It leaves me with such a dull ache of grief. Later that night, I finally find the words for what I wanted to say to you.

I wanted to tell you that your identity is important.

I believe that you see yourself as pretty fat, and I know that your identity matters to you just as much as mine matters to me. The way you see yourself shapes how you engage with the world around you. It determines when and how you feel seen, when and how you feel erased. You describe it precisely, with words you cradle close to your heart. It is a locket that warms with your body, a keepsake to remind you who you are and where you stand in the world.

Your identity matters deeply. So do perception and experience — how others see you and how they treat you as a result. Your identity shapes how you engage with the world; perception determines how the world reacts to you. This, dear friend, is where our experiences differ. You feel pretty fat. I am seen as that fat.

Image from iStock.

Because I’m seen as that fat, I’m treated with all the dismissal and contempt that people who are that fat deserve. People who are that fat get turned away from job interviews, promotions, even doctor offices. Because I am that fat, a nurse takes my blood pressure four times before telling me that my low blood pressure “can’t be right — not for an obese patient.” You know you feel pretty fat, but cashiers don’t gawk when you walk into a buffet restaurant, and acquaintances don’t joke about ending up on a blind date with someone like you.

You see yourself as fat, and that matters. But the world around you doesn’t know how you see yourself. They only see the body in front of them, and that body isn’t even that fat.

I see your identity. And I need you to see my experience.

Both of these moments, with good friends whom I love and trust, have stayed with me. These friends are thoughtful, incisive, committed to doing better by fat people. And in both cases, their values were betrayed, caught in an undertow of dismissing fat people.

They never meant to, but both of them made it clear that some bodies are acceptable, and others aren’t.

Many of us are comfortable saying that some fat bodies are OK. Those fat bodies are almost always exceptional star athletes or stunning models. The kind of bodies you see alongside their accomplishments and, astonished, utter, "I never would’ve guessed." The kind of bodies that check every other box: staggering beauty, visible markers of health, physical ability, youth. Women must have hourglass figures; men must have broad shoulders and barrel chests. No one can “look obese.” Yes, fat bodies are OK, but only if they are immaculate in every other way and only if we can see their perfection. Fat bodies are best when they don’t look fat at all.

She’s not even that fat and I’m pretty fat are harsh reminders of that line. I never know just where it is, but I know I am always on the outside of it. I have never been an acceptable kind of fat. Those who are acceptable, those who are embraced, are precious few and far between. Most of us fail at being the right kind of fat.

That’s why any acceptance of fat people that expands our standards to a point is unacceptable. I do not want to be accepted into a beauty standard that has betrayed me. I do not want my acceptance to rely on someone else’s rejection.

Everyone — yes, everyone — deserves respect in the world. No one — not one person — deserves to be harassed, discriminated against, disrespected, or hurt just because of the size or shape of their body. It doesn’t matter if you think they could change their body. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. All of us deserve safety and all of us deserve love.

There will be bodies that you find difficult to embrace.

The fattest person in the movie theater, daring to eat popcorn. The person you clock as transgender at the grocery store. The person with a visible disability, who needs you to give up your seat on the bus. There will be me, a person who is that fat. This is where the work gets tough.

In order to make room for all of us, you will have to believe to your bones that they deserve everything you have. Not some of them. Not the most beautiful ones or the most athletic ones. Not up to a certain size or just if they’re nice to you or just the ones you think are cute.

Dignity is not earned. Safety is not a reward. None of us should have to overcome our bodies just to be safe, to be loved, to be treated like anyone else. Safety, acceptance, and love are for all of us. Not just the ones we’re comfortable with. Not just the ones who aren’t that fat.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on 07.22.15



"So just recently I went out on a Match.com date, and it was fantastic," begins Dr. Danielle Sheypuk in her TEDx Talk.

If you've ever been on a bunch of Match.com dates, that opening line might make you do a double take. How does one get so lucky?!

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date.

Not Dr. Sheypuck's actual date. Photo by Thinkstock.


But don't get too jealous. Things quickly went downhill two dates later, as most Match.com dates ultimately do. This time, however, the reason may not be something that you've ever experienced. Intrigued? I was too. So here's the story.Gorgeous!

Gorgeous! Photo from Dr. Sheypuk's Instagram account, used with permission.

She's a licensed clinical psychologist, an advocate, and a model — among other things. She's also been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. And that last fact is what did her recent date in.

On their third date over a romantic Italian dinner, Sheypuk noticed that he was sitting farther away from her than usual. And then, out of nowhere, he began to ask the following questions:

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
True

The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

@elenisabracos on TikTok

Look, it’s a sad situation for anyone to hear that Adele will not be gracing the stage any time soon. The beloved singer woefully announced on Instagram last Friday (Jan 21) that her planned residency in Las Vegas “wasn’t ready” due to coronavirus. Half of her crew had been infected, making it “impossible to finish the show.”

But for one fan in particular, who has tried—and failed miserably—to catch Adele live on three separate occasions, the news hit particularly hard. Luckily, her sense of humor proves that any tragedy can turn into comedy gold.

This story, with all its hilarious twists and turns, is quite the delightful saga. And though it doesn’t erase all the gutting disappointments left from pandemic cancellations, it does serve as wholesome entertainment.

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This article originally appeared on August 14, 2016


Time travel back to 1905.

Back in 1905, a book called "The Apples of New York" was published by the New York State Department of Agriculture. It featured hundreds of apple varieties of all shapes, colors, and sizes, including Thomas Jefferson's personal favorite, the Esopus Spitzenburg.






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