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A PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM UPWORTHY
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body image

Image from YouTube video.

An emotional and strong Matt Diaz.


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.
weight-loss journey, obesity, social media

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.

body image, viral videos, photos

Sharing what happens with extreme weight loss.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

selfies, shame, extra skin

Working through fear...

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

self love, self care, self esteem

Loving myself.

Images via Matt Diaz, used with permission.

fear, public shaming, insecurity

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.

Kelsey Wells at three different weights.

It's super easy for most people to get hung up on the number on their scales and not how they actually look or, most importantly, feel. People often go on diets in hopes of reaching an ideal weight they had when they graduated high school or got married, but they're often disappointed when they can't attain it.

But a set of photos by fitness blogger Kelsey Wells is a great reminder for everyone to put their scales back in storage.

Welles is best known as the voice and body behind My Sweat Life, a blog she started after gaining weight during pregnancy. To lose the weight, she started the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) training program and after 84 weeks she shared three photos on her Instagram account that prove the scale doesn't matter.


The photos showed her at her start weight (144 pounds), the weight she hit two months after giving birth (122 pounds), and current weight (140 pounds). Now she weighs exactly what she did when she started the program but her body is entirely different.

Here's an excerpt from Wells' Instagram post:

SCREW THE SCALE || I figured it was time for a friendly, yet firm reminder. YOU GUYS. PLEASEEEEEE STOP GETTING HUNG UP ON THE NUMBER ON THE STUPID SCALE! PLEASE STOP THINKING YOUR WEIGHT EQUALS YOUR PROGRESS AND FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING PLEASE STOP LETTING YOR WEIGHT HAVE ANY AFFECT WHATSOEVER ON YOUR SELF ESTEEM, like I used to.
To any of you who are where I once was, please listen to me. I am 5' 7" and weigh 140 lbs. When I first started #bbg I was 8 weeks post partum and 145 lbs. I weighed 130 before getting pregnant, so based on nothing besides my own warped perception, I decided my "goal weight" should be 122 and to fit into my skinniest jeans. Well after a few months of BBG and breastfeeding, I HIT IT and I fit into those size 0 jeans. Well guess what? I HAVE GAINED 18 POUNDS SINCE THEN. EIGHT FREAKING TEEN. Also, I have gone up two pant sizes and as a matter of fact I ripped those skinny jeans wide open just the other week trying to pull them up over my knees.?? My point?? According to my old self and flawed standards, I would be failing miserably.


This article originally appeared on 10.26.17

Justin Higuchi/Wikicommons

Lauren Mayberry performing with Chvrches at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles, 2016



A fan of the Scottish synthpop band Chvrches got a bit more than he bargained for when he yelled to the stage.

"Marry me!" an unidentified man yelled out during a pause between songs.

"Pardon?" Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry responded, prompting the man to shout out, "Marry me! Now!"


performance, crowds, hecklers, musicians

What it looks like to get told off from the stage.

GIFs from advancedfirefly.

But what's the big deal? It's not like he was serious. Well...

No, I sincerely doubt that the man in the crowd expected Mayberry to throw down her microphone and jump into his arms. Him saying "marry me" was probably more of a stand-in for "I like your music and respect you as a human being with boundaries!" (OK, maybe not that last bit.)

It's a little more complicated than that.

If you know a bit more about Chvrches' backstory, Mayberry's response makes a lot of sense.

Throughout the band's career, Mayberry has been outspoken against music industry sexism and online harassment.

In 2013, Mayberry posted a screenshot of a message sent to the band's Facebook page that read, "Could you pass this correspondence on to the cute singer, I think we'd make superior love together, and very much would like to take her to dinner." After responding, "No. That's disgusting," Mayberry was told it was a "very puritanical stance" to take.

Her response was simple: "Please stop sending us emails like this." In response, she received a slew of responses containing threats, twisted sexual fantasies, and general disregard for her existence as a human. That month, she penned an opinion piece for The Guardian, "I will not accept online misogyny.”

"But why should women 'deal' with this?"

Her post at The Guardian was a powerful rebuttal to anyone who has ever told her (or any female musician, for that matter) that she should just "deal with" harassment.

"I absolutely accept that in this industry there is comment and criticism. There will always be bad reviews: such is the nature of a free press and free speech. ... What I do not accept, however, is that it is all right for people to make comments ranging from 'a bit sexist but generally harmless' to openly sexually aggressive. That it is something that 'just happens.' Is the casual objectification of women so commonplace that we should all just suck it up, roll over and accept defeat? I hope not. Objectification, whatever its form, is not something anyone should have to 'just deal with.'"

Years later, the harassment continues. But Mayberry isn't giving up.

Earlier this year, Mayberry posted another screenshot of a message sent to one of the band's social media accounts on her personal Instagram page. The message, in which an anonymous voice from the Internet threatens to sexually assault Mayberry with a cheese grater, was posted alongside Mayberry's eloquent response.

"My band is lucky enough to have some of the most awesome, supportive and respectful fans in the world and we are so excited to be in the studio making an album to share with them. Yet, on a daily basis, we still receive communications like this. These people never learn that violence against women is unacceptable. But they also never learn that women will not be shamed and silenced and made to disappear. I am not going anywhere. So bring it on, motherfuckers. Let's see who blinks first."

So, in hindsight, maybe yelling "Marry me!" at Lauren Mayberry wasn't the best idea.

The man may have meant well, but combined with the sexualized messages from other fans and critics alike, it creates an atmosphere of uncomfortable, unwanted comments. It's a lot like street harassment: While the intention might have been to "compliment" someone, the effect can be something so completely different.

Watch Mayberry's showdown with the "Marry me" guy in the video below.

This article originally appeared on 10.05.15






Identity

An open letter to men who will have sex with me but won't date me

"It's one thing if you're not into fat women — everyone has their preferences — but if you want to have sex with us without being seen in public with us, that's emotionally abusive."


Many years before I got together with my boyfriend, I had a sex thing with this guy that I thought was relationship material.

He not only had an amazing body but a great personality as well. I was honest when I met him that I was looking for something more than just sex, and he led me to believe that was what he wanted, too.

Between mind-blowing sex sessions, we ordered in, played video games, and watched movies — couple things but without the label. But when I tried to get him to go to a show or out to dinner with me, he refused. My frustration grew as the months went on, and one day I confronted him.


"Why don't we ever go anywhere?"

"We have everything we need here," he answered while simultaneously distracting me by caressing my shoulder blades.

"We actually don't," I said. "I'm hungry, let's check out that new Indian place around the corner."

"No! We might run into one of my buddies," he said, moving his body further away from me. The underlining meaning was clear — he couldn't take the chance that someone he knew would see him with me.

He needed to keep our relationship on the DL so that no one would ever suspect that he enjoyed spending time with me — a fat woman.

He was super fit, so obviously that's the kind of woman he wanted to be associated with, the kind he could be seen with at the Indian place.

When I realized he was ashamed of being seen with me, I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach — a place where much of my pain already resided.

To him, I was fuckable but not dateable. He dumped me soon after that conversation.

He did me a favor by not continuing to lead me on. Otherwise, I might still be trying to prove to him that I was worth any shit he might have gotten from other people. If I was still his secret shame, I might not have met my next boyfriend, so thanks, athletic asshole.

I had hoped that, in this age of body positivity, men would no longer need to hide their desires when it comes to fat women.

But I was wrong.

It's just a sad fact: Many men who are sexually attracted to fat women are ashamed of it.

They're OK with banging a fat girl, but they don't want to hang out with her — someone might judge them for it.

It's one thing if you're not into fat women — everyone has their preferences, and not every body type appeals to everyone. But if you find larger women hot and you want to have sex with them without being associated in public with them, that's emotionally abusive.

Everyone should have the freedom to express their desires openly (as long as there's consent from both parties). If you modify your behavior and wants to what you think will protect you from criticism and/or ridicule, then you need help because that kind of self-loathing will only grow until it has destroyed you.

Don't act like we're in a relationship if all you really want is to experience what sex with a fat woman is like.

I'll tell you what it's like: It's as amazing and fun as having sex with anyone who's into having sex with you. We don't have magic vaginas, and our breasts don't do any special tricks — well besides the usual, like feed or comfort people.

Fat women are just as hot and sexually gifted as women of other shapes, sizes, and abilities. Being fat doesn't mean we're so hungry for attention that we'll put our own needs aside and do whatever we can to rock your world.

If you're with someone who doesn't make you feel beautiful or who isn't proud to have you on their arm, you need to dump their ass.

Being alone is far better than compromising on what you deserve or being made to feel as if you're someone's big dirty secret.

You're not only dateable, you're lovable and worthy of being treated with respect and love.

I regret not standing up for myself when I discovered the athletic guy was only using me for sex. But at least I learned, as we all should learn, that I'm responsible for being my biggest advocate and to never accepting anything less than what I need.


This article was written by Christine Schoenwald and originally appeared on 06.29.18