I'm fat.

The kind of fat I am depends on what side of fat you're looking at me from. If you're a thin person, I probably seem very fat. If you're a very fat person, I might seem average to you. To me, I am fat.

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I've been all different sizes. I've been bigger than I am now. I've been smaller than I was in high school. I've been everything in between. Right now I am fat; I don't love it. Because I know what it's like to be smaller, I know that it feels better than I do now. But right now, I'm also happy — not with my body but with my life.

If you're a thin person who has always been thin (or you're a formerly fat person who worked your ass off to be thin), you're probably thinking something like "if you're more comfortable smaller, why not work hard to be smaller?" If you're a fat person, you might be thinking "me, too" or, alternatively, "there are ways to feel good without being smaller."

You're both right. Also, I already know both of those things.

I've chosen different paths to wellness with my body. I have worked to lose weight in a safe and healthy way and been fulfilled and proud of that. I've also eaten cake with reckless abandon and not cared about the upward movement of the scale needle. I have been obsessed with weight loss. I've lived with and recovered from an eating disorder. I've been miserably fat. I've been miserably thin. I've been average — neither fat nor thin nor miserable.

What I am now is the product of a lot of years of self-loathing, a few years of self-loving, and 43 years of being a human being. What I am now is OK.

For most of my life, I have believed that I only needed to accomplish X to be fulfilled.

X might be being thin or having money; it might mean being married or divorced, living in a home or traveling abroad. I have accomplished many of the X's, and I have been proud of those accomplishments. But ultimately, they have never made me happier in my life. I believe now that you are about as happy as you make up your mind to be.

I think it's true: There is a threshold past which you just can't get happier. If you have food and clothing and your other basic needs met, the rest of the stuff isn't paramount to your happiness; it's just accoutrement.

I thought that being thin was the answer to my happiness, but it wasn't. It was the answer to some things — more attention, a wider range of clothing options, fewer sideways glances from my grandmother over the gravy boat — but there were many things being thin couldn't do. Making me happy was one of them.

I know from experience that my weight is almost irrelevant to my happiness. So I am choosing to stay fat.

I could change my body, but I don't want to right now. The reasons I am choosing not to make any changes are both simple and complicated. I have plantar fasciitis, and I don't feel like walking. Walking is an easy way to feel better in your body, but my foot hurts, therefore walking hurts. Yoga does not hurt, so I'm doing that. Walking might result in weight change, but I'm not really thinking about that right now. Instead, I'm focused on healing my foot.

Overall, though, my health is excellent. There are no pressing physiological issues. My blood pressure is great; my cholesterol is fine. I have no compelling health risks motivating me to change my body.

My mental health is stable. I'm focused on my root health. I'm working on healing my body from the inside, using a combination of spiritual, mental, and physical changes. I am not working on changing my physical body because ultimately my physical body, while important, is less important than all of the other things I'm working on.

My body doesn't prevent me from doing the things I want to do.

I can ride my bike, do yoga, chase my kids, and run up and down a mountain and along the beach. So any attempt at weight loss, right now anyway, would be rooted in aesthetics, and the expectation for me to be aesthetically pleasing is one that I won't surrender to because being beautiful isn't that important to me.

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We've been taught to value pretty above all of the other things we can be and are: smart, funny, generous, compassionate, kind, caring. But I am not young, and I am not a fool. I know two things: Beauty is fleeting, and the kind of people who care if I'm beautiful are not the people I care to be around.

For all the work women (mostly) do to achieve and sustain our beauty, our bodies will remain in flux. The thing you try to make beautiful now will sag next year. I cannot prevent the varicose veins, the wrinkles, the stretch marks. I will not waste my time trying. And if my partner one day told me that he thought I wasn't beautiful and was no longer interested in me, I would have to tell my partner to get screwed. I don't want to be with someone who values beauty above my intellect or my kindness.

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Someone emailed me recently and said she'd read something I wrote a few years ago about being fat.

She wanted to know if I was still "fat and happy." She wanted to know how to let go of the need to feel thin but also find joy. She wanted to know how I found peace in my body. I don't email everyone back, but I emailed her back because I had something to say I thought she would find valuable and that I needed to hear, too. The answer isn't that I found peace in my body — it's that I found peace in my life. Once I located that peace, I realized that the turmoil I felt around my body wasn't stronger than the joy I found in everything else.

This story originally appeared on Ravishly and is reprinted here with permission. More from Ravishly:

Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

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Photo by TR on Unsplash

Companies and organizations are on the side of their employees in light of stricter abortion laws.

The leak from the Supreme Court about overturning Roe v. Wade caused many people with uteruses to go into a tailspin. People began scheduling appointments for long-term birth control. Some opted for permanent birth control. Others stocked up on Plan B or called in preemptive prescriptions for the abortion pill mifepristone. In addition to making tangible plans for what the future might hold in some of these trigger states, people took to the streets to make their voices heard. Protests were held across America against the proposed overturning of Roe v. Wade, which protects people’s right to abortion under the 14th Amendment.

People are also organizing over social media. They’re helping locate nonprofits that will help cover the cost of travel from a restricted state to states where abortion will remain legal. Secret Facebook groups are popping up to help arrange transportation and accommodations for those who need access to safe reproductive care. People are coming together in ways you see in movies, all in an effort to prevent inevitable deaths that would occur if people attempt home abortions. It’s both heartwarming and heart-wrenching that this is something that needs to be done at all. It doesn’t stop with determined activists and housewives across the country, this fiery spirit has reached corporations as well.

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That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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