Courage and body positivity. This is me.
Matt Diaz has worked extremely hard to lose 270 pounds over the past six years.
But his proudest moment came in March 2015 when he decided to film himself with his shirt off to prove an important point about body positivity and self-love.
Matt had lap-band surgery in 2009 at age 16.Through the course of his weight-loss journey, Matt became passionate about promoting body positivity for people of all shapes and sizes.
Here's Matt at 16 years old and 497 pounds versus recently after his surgery — at 22 years old and 220 pounds.
Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.
To stay motivated, he started sharing his journey on social media, posting before-and-after photos, answering questions and giving support to followers, and even sharing his meals and favorite workouts. Six years later, Matt is down over 270 pounds and is a very active voice in the online body-positivity movement.
But in all his years of sharing his story, the one thing he's never done is showed what his body looks like after 200+ pounds of weight loss. So he uploaded the video above to show his followers his true self.
Sharing what happens with extreme weight loss.
Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.
Working through fear...
Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.
Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.
Scary and important.
Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.
Shortly after he posted the video online, originally to Tumblr, it quickly went viral and garnered thousands of shares and comments from people around the web. I was one of the thousands touched by the video, so I reached out to Matt to find out more about what motivated him and what he hopes others can take away from his story. Here's what he had to say:
Why was it so important for you to post this video?
"I'm a really big advocate for self-love and body positivity. I think it's important that we learn to love the bodies we're in, even if we don't necessarily like every little thing about them. However, in the time I'd been writing and talking about it, I'd never actually shown my excess skin to anyone. It felt dishonest somehow, to others and to myself. I couldn't tell others that I wanted them to love themselves and keep myself hidden away and ashamed of my skin."
"I know what it feels like to hate your body, and to be depressed about it, and I never want anyone to feel that way again. So, if making myself vulnerable can help one person, why not?"
— Matt Diaz
What's the response been like? Anything particularly unexpected?
"I think that putting any opinion on the Internet will garner a certain amount of negativity and cynicism, but I haven't seen anything like that at all. I've read every comment and message since the video has gone up, literally thousands, and they're all so thoughtful.
A really surprising side-effect were the number of transgender people who've thanked me saying that they understood my struggle, even though their body-related insecurity grew from different roots. I'd never even begun to [think] of what that must be like, and the fact that my message could help even though my problems began somewhere else is really incredible.”
What advice or words of encouragement do you have for someone who's struggling to love their body?
"I know it's difficult, especially when you're starting out. I want you to remember that you are not the problem, certain aspects of society are the problem. You'll constantly be told that you're too heavy or too tall to be attractive, or you're not masculine or feminine enough, or that your skin isn't the right tone or your hair isn't the right color, and these people are always always always wrong.
Luckily, we're slowly starting to see these ideas get phased out by modernity. Plus-sized, un-retouched models are getting more attention in major brands, more attention is being put on the alternative scene for high fashion, it's becoming clear that these negative ideas are not going to last, though it's going to take a while."
"Understand that to love yourself is to contest the negative things that were put into your head. Every smile, tattoo, bathing suit, and crop top is a small revolution. Tell yourself you're beautiful every day, and I promise you will be."
— Matt Diaz
Watch video below:
Matt's story is a personal one, but it's one we can all learn from.
I think the most important thing to take away here is that self-love takes time and is different for everyone no matter what they look like. It's also worth noting that for Matt, losing weight was an important part of his journey, but that might not be the case for everyone. Even so, our society has such incredibly high and unrealistic body standards that even many of those who do work to lose weight end up feeling uncomfortable or being shamed for not having "perfect bodies" once they've lost weight.
There's no such thing as a "perfect body" because everyone is different, which is what makes us beautiful and great! I'm glad there are people like Matt in the world who are not only willing to share their stories but also to inspire others by showing that body confidence comes in all shapes and sizes, and that everyone deserves to feel good about who they are. Here's hoping Matt's inspiring words can help others begin to love and accept themselves, no matter where they're at in their journey.
This story originally appeared on 03.18.15.
"These past seven weeks really opened up my eyes on how the household has actually ran, and 110% of that is because of my wife."
Participating in paternity leave offers fathers so much more than an opportunity to bond with their new kids. It also allows them to help around the house and take on domestic responsibilities that many new mothers have to face alone…while also tending to a newborn.
All in all, it enables couples to handle the daunting new chapter as a team, making it less stressful on both parties. Or at least equally stressful on both parties. Democracy!
TikTok creator and dad Caleb Remington, from the popular account @ustheremingtons, confesses that for baby number one, he wasn’t able to take a “single day of paternity leave.”
This time around, for baby number two, Remington had the privilege of taking seven weeks off (to be clear—his employer offered four weeks, and he used an additional three weeks of PTO).
The time off changed Remington’s entire outlook on parenting, and his insights are something all parents could probably use.
“It's unfortunately the end of my maternity —ahem— paternity leave,” Remington quips at the beginning of his video, via voiceover. “I only joke because my wife is truly the man of the house. And call me what you want, but I am totally okay with that.”
He then shares that after getting to spend quality time with his family to create precious memories—losing track of time to “watch ants cross the sidewalk,” for instance—he feels “guilty” about not doing so with their firstborn.
“[It] made me realize how many of those small moments I missed out the first time, but I'm looking past that guilt and grateful that I had some time to make it up,” he says.
You’ll notice that during this entire video, Remington is also doing chores. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, washing dishes, wiping the countertops…you get the picture.
@ustheremingtons I (caleb) am getting ready to go back into work and i am not ready. Grateful for my four weeks plus 3 weeks of PTO, but i feel like we were just getting into a groove and i was finally getting to have some 1 on 1 time with my son. Picking up the house today because we all function better with a clean space and we haven’t had time to do much of it while surviving these past 7 weeks. I do work from home and find that I have a little more flexibility in helping out here and there but i am also pretty glued and have to be zoned in during work hours. I do however have some pretty awesome and understanding coworkers and company!Shout out to @SAMBAZON Açaí 👊 Tiff is an all star: working and stay at home mom. I am dedicated in doing better to help balance more of the domestic responsibilities. #paternityleave #dadtok #dadsover30 #dadlife #fyp #foryoupage #ditl #ditlvlog #maternityleave #newbornlife #newbornbaby #secondbaby #2under2 #toddlerlife ♬ original sound - Tiffany + Caleb
Why is he doing this? His wife, aka “the lady with the milk bags,” has been so stressed with the house being messy that Remington decided to focus on doing all the housecleaning so that she could spend time with the kids.
Doing a fair share of the domestic labor is something Remington admits to failing at their first time around. Spending seven weeks taking on more responsibilities, however, opened his eyes to the fact that what he previously saw as doing his “fair share” was actually doing “the bare minimum.”
“It has taken multiple conversations — and many ongoing ones — to truly master how to take on more of the mental load of raising children, growing our marriage and taking care of our investments like our home.”
Proof that having difficult conversations can lead to better understanding!
Lastly, Remington reflects on how the emotional turbulence of being new parents challenged his relationship, even though he and his wife were good communicators and aware of how much effort would be required.
“I honestly hated how much we fought, how much I felt misunderstood, and how much I misunderstood her…so now as second-time parents, I feel like we're a little bit more prepared. Prepared in how we talk to each other, prepared in how I balance work, life, and personal life, and prepared to just let things go,” he says.
Definitely valuable insights for anyone navigating baby number one. Or number five, for that matter.
Remington’s story stands as a great example of just how beneficial paternity leave can be. It offers priceless bonding time, an equal balance of responsibilities, and more time for much needed reflection as parents begin a pivotal new chapter in their lives.
This article originally appeared on 9.7.23
"I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything, and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c’mon."
Even though it’s 2023 and schools are much more concerned with protecting children from bullying than in the past, parents still have to be aware that kids will be kids, and having a child with a funny name is bound to cause them trouble.
A mother on Reddit is concerned that her future children will have the unfortunate last name of “Butt,” so she asked people on the namenerds forum to help her convince her husband to name their child something different.
(Note: We’re assuming that the person who wrote the post is a woman because their husband is interested in perpetuating the family name, and if it were a same-sex relationship, a husband probably wouldn’t automatically make that assumption.)
"My husband’s last name is Butt. Can someone please help me illuminate to him why this last name is less than ideal,” she asked the forum. “I totally get we can’t shield kids from everything and I understand the whole family ties thing, but c'mon. Am I being unreasonable by suggesting our future kid either take my name, a hybrid, or a new one altogether?"
The posters on the forum overwhelmingly supported her.
"I can see hubby being a bit of a stickler because he wants to keep the family name, but I find it a bit baffling that he doesn’t get why it would be a concern,” Babelight wrote. “If you have to club him over the head with it, indicate that for children/young persons hearing the name, they would equate it to someone’s last name being ‘Pooh,’ ‘Vaginah’ or ‘Peenis/Peniss.’”
Other posters noted that her opinion is just as valid as her husband’s when naming their child.
"You are absolutely not being unreasonable. Your husband's last name is objectively pretty awful, and of course, you don't want your child to have it. Also, even if it wasn't that bad, you would be still entitled to at least suggest that your child takes your last name since you are also going to be their parent,” SwordfishBrilliant 40 wrote. “Also, he needs to think about his child, let's be honest, their life is going to be a lot easier with a ‘normal’/not bad’ last name."
Having a last name like Butt opens a child up to being bullied, which can lead to feelings of rejection, exclusion, isolation, diminished self-esteem and long-term mental health struggles, including depression and anxiety.
"I knew a kid named Zack Butt. Teased relentlessly. At every age," Kwam26 confirmed.
There is also the practical problem of living in a digital world where algorithms often filter out names deemed offensive. This issue is known as the “Scunthorpe problem.” Back in the late ‘90s, people from the town of Scunthorpe in the UK couldn’t sign up on AOL because a filter blocked out the name due to the offensive term that sits in the middle of it.
The husband is proud of his family heritage and, possibly, of having learned to live with a name that would make most people chuckle. But it’s also understandable that his wife has a real problem bringing a child up in this world with a name that will make them the butt of jokes throughout their lives.
One wonders why this wasn’t discussed before the couple got married.
This article originally appeared on 9.5.23
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She's a little afraid to leave her cabin.
A lot of folks would love to trade lives with Christine Kesteloo. Her husband is the Chief Engineer on a cruise ship, so she gets to live on the boat pretty much for free as the “wife on board.” For Christine, life is a lot like living on a permanent vacation.
“I live on a cruise ship for half the year with my husband, and it's often as glamorous as it sounds,” she told Insider. “After all, I don't cook, clean, make my bed, do laundry or pay for food.“
Living an all-inclusive lifestyle seems like paradise, but it has some drawbacks. Having access to all-you-can-eat food all day long can really have an effect on one’s waistline. Kesteloo admits that living on a cruise ship takes a lot of self-discipline because the temptation is always right under her nose.
“One of the hardest things about living on a cruise ship is that I know right now, if I just leave my cabin, I can go and have cookies, pizza, a shake, I could have anything I wanted, and I want it, I absolutely want it,” she said in a TikTok video that received over 400,000 views.
The hardest part about living on a cruise ship is that I am surrounded by free food all of the time anything I want I just had lunch but it’s 2 o’clock in my body tells me it’s either cookie time or time for a hamburger. The hardest part is telling myself not to eat. #hardestpart #cruiseship #livingatsea #koningsdam #weliveonacruiseship #cruisefoodie #foodtok #itsaproblem #halcruises #hollandamericaline
“I am laying here. It is 2 pm. I had a salad for lunch, I had some fresh fruit, but that didn’t fill me up,” she continued. “Right now, all I can think about is eating a burger with some French fries and some mayonnaise.”
“And that, folks, is the absolute hardest part about living on a cruise ship,” she said. “I am surrounded by food all the time.”
She added, "The hardest part is telling myself not to eat.”
Kesteloo’s trouble is a common problem among people on cruise ships. A study by Admiral Travel Insurance found that over 60% of people who go on a week-long cruise anticipate gaining weight. Seventeen percent of people say they gain 2 to 3 pounds on a cruise, while 14% say they gain 4 to 5 pounds.
Other estimates show that the average cruiser will put on 5 to 10 pounds on a weeklong cruise. Imagine living on a cruise ship for half the year, like Kesteloo. She could quickly put on 100 pounds a year if she's not careful.
"I’d be huge if I lived there. I would feel like I’m on a constant vacation, and who diets on vacation?" Theresa Gramelsapcker-Wilson wrote in the comments.
"This is my main reason why I couldn’t do this HHAHAHAHAHAA," Cara Mia added.
"I never thought about those who actually live on a cruise ship. I would be 500 pounds," Lucky Penny2468 said.
Kesteloo’s battle with temptation shows that in every life, a little rain must fall. Nobody ever truly has it perfect. Kesteloo seems to be living the perfect life on board a cruise ship, but she still has to fight temptation every moment of the day or make good use of the ship’s gym facilities. But, obviously, having access to too much food is far better than having too little.
This article originally appeared on 9.5.23
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Every child should be able to communicate in a way that works best for them.
People start communicating from the moment they enter the world usually through cries, faces, grunts and squeals. Once infants move into the toddler phase the combine all of their previous communication skills with pointing and saying a few frequently used words like "milk," "mama," "dada" and "eat."
Children who are born without the ability to hear often still go through those same stages with the exception of their frequently used words being in sign language. But not all hearing parents know sign language, which can stunt the language skills of their non-hearing child. Ronnie McKenzie is an American Sign Language advocate that uses social media to teach others how to sign so deaf and nonverbal kids don't feel left out.
"But seriously i felt so isolated 50% of my life especially being outside of school i had NONE to sign ASL with. Imagine being restricted from your own language," McKenzie writes in his caption.
The dad explains that he was the only deaf child on both sides of his family and no one spoke ASL to him outside of school. Because of his experience feeling isolated within his own family, he decided to build his social media platform around ASL literacy, his followers look forward to his daily lessons. Parents and teachers of deaf and nonverbal children thank him for the work he's doing and often request certain signs to help them communicate.
McKenzie advocates that ASL become a language taught in elementary schools as a standard part of curriculum so students are able to effectively communicate with everyone around them. In one of his more recent videos, he teaches parents how to sign basic words children may need to know like, "pizza," "don't touch," and "follow me."
Parents and educators jumped into the comments to ask for help learning more signs.
"I work in school, and I would like to know school materials like: paper, crayons, pencil, paint, brushes, or words like: homework, test, recess. Thanks," someone writes.
"Can you do “gentle” or “careful”? Like for a toddler with a new baby at home," another asks.
"I love this so much. My son is non-verbal and struggles with learning any way to communicate. I feel me trying to learn ASL is something that will help him- I appreciate you, we all do," a commenter reveals.
Not everyone will pick up ASL quickly, but McKenzie's approach to repeat the signs three times and give signs for different situations that people frequently incur is likely most helpful. When learning a language, even our first language, we pick up on words used the most in familiar situations so giving context to the signs can help it stick. Hopefully more people are inspired to learn from McKenzie to make the world more accessible to others.