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.
"Things that aren't actually satisfying are those that are maximally addictive."
Philosopher Eric Hoffer once said, “You can’t get enough of what you truly don’t need to make you happy.” His point is that we can have enough of the things that truly satisfy us, such as a healthy relationship, necessary material possessions, or nutritious food.
However, the things that can’t satisfy us, such as junk food, toxic relationships, or status symbols, will always leave us feeling hollow, no matter how much we indulge.
This idea has popped back into public consciousness, although with a slight twist by TikTokker Celeste Aria, who refers to her version of the idea as the “Dorito theory.” “One thing I can’t stop thinking about is called the Dorito theory,” she said in a post with over 1 million views. “I learned about this, and now I see everything a little bit differently.”
Aria is a vintage fashion influencer and musician.
“When you eat a Dorito and finish your bite, you’re not fully satisfied,” Aria continues. “It’s not the same as eating a steak or eating a really satiating food that’s high in protein where after your bite, you really feel sort of that fullness and that warmth of satisfaction.”
Have you heard of Dorito Theory?
Have you heard of Dorito Theory? What types of things and experiences falls under it for you? #doritotheory #dopamine #addictivebehaviour #howtostoprotting #rottingtiktok #impulsivebehaviour #howtousetiktokless #howtoeathealthy #howtomotivateyourself #howtoimprove #thoughtexperiment #serotonin #mentalhealth #neuroscience #neurodivergent #adhd
“Eating potato chips is addictive because the peak of experience is kind of when you’re tasting it, and not after,” she continued. Put simply: "Experiences that aren't truly satisfying are maximally addictive."
The theory can even be applied to the platform where she went viral. TikTok may give us slight hits of joy (dopamine) as we scroll, but they can be few and far between. Eventually, when we put our phones down, the entire experience is little more than only a diversion. At worst, a waste of time and emotional energy.
The video received a lot of thoughtful responses on TikTok.
"In Gabor Maté's book ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, ’ he says 'You’ll never get enough of something that almost works,'" C. Badger wrote. "There’s a line in 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' that says something along the lines of 'I love a cigarette it leaves one so unsatisfied," and I think of it daily," Louis said, referring to Oscar Wilde's masterpiece.
"This is a unique TikTok video that is more like a steak than a Dorito. I feel I learned something and now I’m actually satisfied and don’t need to keep scrolling," Stevesapao added.
Dr. Jamie Sorenson says that the Dorito theory makes much sense from a psychiatric perspective. “Dorito theory is consistent with other addiction and behavioral theories,” she tells Fast Company. “The more immediate [the reward], the more likely we are to repeat that behavior, whether it’s eating Doritos, using a drug of choice, or scrolling on social media.”
The psychological underpinnings that drive people to overeat, engage in toxic relationships, or fall into the darkness of addiction are more complex than any idea that can be explained in a 90-second TikTok video. However, Dorito theory is a good test for whether we should indulge in certain vices, possessions, or people.
If you keep repeating a specific behavior repeatedly and it always leaves you feeling hollow, why not substitute it for something that is ultimately satisfying instead? Obviously, that’s easier said than done when you have a big bag of chips in your lap.
"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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This is super helpful info for people who struggle with social anxiety.
Some people fear heights or small spaces, some fear spiders or snakes, and some fear illness or death. When taken to an extreme, such fears can form of an anxiety disorder, but they are understandable fears to have because any one of those things could theoretically spell our demise.
But what about fearing something that isn't physically dangerous at all, but rather psychologically uncomfortable, like…awkwardness?
For people with social anxiety, the fear of awkwardness is as real as the fear of death. "I'd rather cross a glass bridge over a 1,000-foot canyon than introduce myself to someone new" is a totally normal thought for a socially anxious person. The silences and pauses that mark most social interactions are magnified to painful degrees and the feelings of self-consciousness most of us experience in those moments are felt in extremes in the mind of a socially anxious person.
No one likes feeling awkward, of course, but why is it even a thing in the first place? What makes some interactions feel so uncomfortable to our brains? And more importantly, how do we overcome the fear of awkwardness, especially those who find themselves completely paralyzed by it?
The YouTube channel VSauce shared some of the science behind awkwardness, what's happening chemically and emotionally when we feel awkward and some of the perspective shifts that can help keep us from fixating on awkward feelings.
First, the video explains that awkwardness is actually a social good because our feelings of self-consciousness prompt us to avoid certain actions in ways that actual laws and formal etiquette don't.
"People who demonstrate self-consciousness when needed are communicating cooperative intentions, which helps them get along well with others," host Michael explains. "It's no coincidence that brains,susceptible to feeling occasional awkwardness, would become so common.They're successful at cooperating,at social life. Feeling awkward shows that you understand and are keen on smooth social exchanges.Now, too much or too little concern for social rules isn't healthy, but researchers found that just the right amount is great. When a person shows remorse or embarrassment or awkward discomfort, when appropriate,others perceive them as being more trustworthy, and their actions as more forgivable."
In other words, having the capacity to feel awkward actually makes us more likeable. So why does it feel so awful?
Our brains actually respond to awkwardness similarly to how they react to pain or name-calling, flowing along the same neural pathways, resulting in similar physical sensations and triggering our fight-or-flight response. (Thanks, evolution!)
But there are ways to tamp down our overreaction to awkward moments, which can be especially helpful for people who struggle with social anxiety. One reason awkwardness sticks with us so much is that we worry too much about what people are thinking about us, and social anxiety magnifies that worry. The more we realize that people aren't thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are, the more we can let awkward moments go.
In fact, there's a word for the realization that we are just extras in other people's stories, and not the main character—sonder. We are only the protagonist in our own lives. Other people are focused on their own lives.
"Acknowledging this makes your awkwardness look small," Michael says, adding, "But it also makes all of you look small. Tiny. A needle in a giant haystack." That's both a positive and a negative, but that perspective can help us in those moments when we're feeling the pain of awkwardness.
You can follow VSauce for more insights on the human experience on YouTube here.
It's like a completely new, equally good version of the all-time classic.
As Rolling Stone announced that Beyoncé just became the first Black woman artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, let’s keep the celebration of Black women busting through barriers in the genre going, why not?
Singer/songwriter and producer NYA, aka @nya.w0rld on TikTok, has given her followers all kinds of R&B versions of well known songs from artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and Avril Lavine. She’s even R&B-ified theme songs from popular television shows like “Friends.”
But it’s her recent R&B ballad of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” that’s so good, people are hoping it finds its way to the Queen of Country herself.
At the start of the clip, NYA asks her viewers if they’re familiar with the 70s hit, leading into “what would it be like if it was an R&B song?”
NYA proceeds to effortlessly glides through a flurry of high and low notes and a percussive beat plays in the background.
Suffice it to say, even in a sea of “Jolene” covers, NYA delivers a completely new version of the song.
@nya.w0rld because not enough of you heard the first vrsn of JOLENE that i did #fypp #throwbacksongs #jolene #dollyparton ♬ original sound - NYA
Over 5 million people have watched the video, and that’s not taking into account the other social media platforms that it's been shared to, and many began plotting how this cover could be shared with Parton.
“Someone put this on a cassette player and send it to Dolly Parton,” one fan said.
Another joked “Does anyone have Dolly’s fax number?” referencing the country icon’s famous preference for old school communication.
Perhaps, besides just being a bona fide banger, what makes NYA’s cover resonate so much with listeners is that we are beginning to have a more mainstream conversation about how country music, despite it being rooted in multiple cultures, has predominantly been catered to a white audience.Those lines are being rightfully blurred now, as more country songs by non-white artists make it into the spotlight, and through meaningful collaborations, such as the iconic Grammys duet of “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs.
That’s one of the many great things about music, isn’t it? A song means so much more than the story its lyrics tell. It encapsulates a moment in time. And what this “Jolene” cover seems to contain within it is a merging of new and old in a way that’s oh so timely and important.
The intervention worked, too.
There is an arms race amongst parents these days to choose the most original name for their children possible. While it’s important to instill individuality into a child, studies show that people given unusual names at birth are more likely to suffer setbacks in their social and professional lives.
It can even make it harder for them to find a date.
Knowing that his daughter was setting her child up for a hard life by giving him a very unusual name, a dad staged an intervention—in person and online—to get her to realize what she was doing.
The father, known as MulledMarmite on Reddit, shared his dramatic story on the AITAH forum. He says this daughter’s interest in selecting such an unusual name comes from influencer culture.
“She is obsessed with this influencing thing, everything being about the numbers. Her husband has been evicted to the attic, because he ‘ruins her aesthetic’ that is for the videos. He isn't allowed to bring his items or clothes outside of it, and whenever he as much as forgets a cup on the table, she will scream,” the father wrote.
An influencer takes a selfie on the couch.
“And now she is pregnant, which means it isn't just her and my son in law's problem, it is also a problem for my grandson,” he continued. “She wants no toys in the house for similar reasons, and has banned us from buying any. She doesn't want colourful baby clothes, because the baby will stand out on her videos too much. And then... Then there is the name. Rawbhynne Marveigh Lynter.”
He later explained that Rawbhynne is pronounced “robin,” like the bird and the two middle names were composed of the names of both grandparents. He didn’t disclose the surname. She added that she wanted the non-traditional spelling for Robin because he won’t be a “sidekick” like the Boy Wonder in the Batman comics.
In another post, the father admitted that if his daughter was having a girl, she’d be named Jewleighaynnah, pronounced like “Juliana.”
"She doesn't care that he will get bullied, that his name will be mispronounced, misspelled, and a nightmare on any official capacity. That he will grow to be an adult with the name, instead of staying as a baby," the father added.
The daughter’s reluctance to change her son’s name and obsessive commitment to being an influencer caused the dad to stage an intervention involving “everyone we both know.” He also showed her his Reddit posts to let her know what the general public thinks about the name.
The commenters on Reddit were explicit that Rawbhynne Marveigh Lynter was a lousy choice for a name.
"Her kids are PEOPLE. They’re going to apply for college and jobs and official documentation with those names. She’s treating them like props or dolls for her amusement," biwaterbender wrote. "It’s not about the NAME being unique, it’s about the PERSON. If she cares about how easily her kids navigate through life, then she should at least try to spell it more normally, even if it’s a weird bastard amalgamation name."
The good news is that the father’s online and in-person interventions were successful and the daughter decided to choose a name from her husband’s culture. “One of my sons suggested the name Adler, as well as Arne, Arvid and Ari from my SIL's culture. And she agreed to one of them,” the dad wrote.
The daughter and her husband also had a special Valentine’s Day ceremony where they recommitted to one another and she decided to return to therapy. She has also chosen to put her influencer career on the sidelines and focus on creating art.