To my body: I'm sorry I've been taught to judge you so harshly. That stops today.

To my body,

I’m writing today to ask for absolution of the sins I’ve committed against you over the years.

You got me through childhood with nothing more than a chin scar. You got me through college, though I used and abused you assiduously.


I’m sorry for everything I did to you. For all the chemicals I put into you and on you — especially for that purple hair dye in high school and for all those piercings you took no time to reject. I’m sorry for the lack of good food, sleep, and water.

I treated you like the friend who was always going to stand by me no matter how much I neglected her or treated her poorly.

There was a morning a few years ago when I woke up, then "woke up" to the state of what you had become.

I slowly gazed down the mirror and tried to recognize the carcass I was staring at.

How did we get here?

I remember being in deep pain that morning. I regretted all the cookies I binged on instead of going to hot yoga. All the mornings I snoozed instead of eating breakfast. All the excuses I made to justify eating out. What rubbish that morning was. I was a victim of my own misery.

There wasn't anything wrong with you. I had gained weight. That is all. But I felt like I lost control over you and, therefore, my life.

I was taught that how I look is a direct reflection of who I am.

The world around me seems to believe that you are everything. That is one of the greatest challenges I face every day: taking care of you, but living for me. If I’m not careful, you become the focus of ... well, everything.

People will look in my eyes and tell me I should rest, noticing the heavy bags I’ve been carrying around. They will start passing comments on my weight, as if my worth were measured in inches and pounds. They will tell me my clothes are out of fashion. They will notice your imperfections — and yes, you have many. People notice you, people judge you, people compare themselves to you, my physical self, often forgetting about me.

If I take meticulous care of you, they will think I’m happy. But it is bullshit. Sure, it was infinitely easier to shop for clothes while I was 15 pounds lighter. Let’s face it: Clothes are mostly designed for skinny people. Being a size 6 made strangers’ heads turn. It made boys buy me drinks. It brought me a false sense of confidence. It made me a lot of things, but it did not bring me happiness.

"Body acceptance is not about glorifying obesity," as Mary Lambert tweeted. "It’s about loving your body at whatever size you are."

I enjoy taking care of you and pushing your limits of what I think is possible. You never cease to teach me that there's always more to achieve. You push me to hit harder in every single aspect of my life.

I realize now that on that morning as I was staring into the mirror, it wasn't a true reflection of you. I needed to cast blame on something, and I was taught to blame you.

But the truth is I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am in control. I realize that it has nothing to do with you, my physical self. I’m grateful to you, but I am so much more than just my outward appearance.

This story first appeared on the author's Medium page and is reprinted here with permission.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

It all begins with a tweet from comedian Alison Leiby waxing rhapsodic about New York City's bodegas.

"People who live outside of NYC and don't have bodegas:" she wrote, "where do you go to buy two Diet Cokes, a roll of paper towels, and oh also lemme get some peanut butter m&ms since I'm here, why not."

For those of us not from NYC, a bodega is a corner store. If I'm not mistaken, bodegas are a bit less like 7-11 chain stores and more like unique, locally owned and operated mom-and-pop shops, but basically a one-stop store for all your basic needs. Debate ensued about whether or not bodegas really are special, or just another name for a convenience or grocery store. Apparently, bodegas often have cats living in them, so that's a thing.

But something else interesting came out of the discussion—a whole thread about stereotypes of various American states and regions, and it is at once entertaining and eye-opening.

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Courtesy of Macy's

Brantley and his snowman

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"Would you like to build a snowman?" If you asked five-year-old Brantley from Texas this question, the answer would be a resounding "Yes!" While it may sound like a simple dream, since Texas doesn't usually see much snow, it seemed like a lofty one for him, even more so because Brantley has a congenital heart disease.

On Dec. 11, 2019, however, the real Macy's Santa and his two elves teamed up with Make-A-Wish to surprise Brantley and his family on his way to Colorado where there was plenty of snow for him to build his very own snowman, fulfilling his wish as part of the Macy's Believe campaign. After a joy-filled plane ride where every passenger got gift bags from Macy's, the family arrived in Breckenridge, Colorado where Santa and his elves helped Brantley build a snowman.

Brantley, Brantley's mom, and Santa marveling at their snowmanAll photos courtesy of Macy's

Brantley, who according to his mom had never actually seen snow, was blown away by the experience.

"Well, I had to build a snowman because snowmen are my favorite," Brantley said in an interview with Summit Daily. "All of it was my favorite part."

This is just one example of the more than 330,000 wishes the nonprofit Make-A-Wish have fulfilled to bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses since its founding 40 years ago. Even though many of the children that Make-A-Wish grants wishes for manage or overcome their illnesses, they often face months, if not years of doctor's visits, hospital stays and uncomfortable treatments. The nonprofit helps these children and their families replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope.

It's hardly an outlandish notion — research shows that a wish come true can help increase these children's resiliency and improve their quality of life. Brantley is a prime example.

"This couldn't have come at a better time because we see all the hardships that we went through last year," Brantley's mom Brandi told Summit Daily.

Brantley playing with snowballs

Now more than ever, kids with critical illnesses need hope. Since they're particularly vulnerable to disease, they and their families have had to isolate even more during the pandemic and avoid the people they love most and many of the activities that recharge them. That's why Make-A-Wish is doing everything it can to fulfill wishes in spite of the unprecedented obstacles.

That's where you come in. Macy's has raised over $132 million for Make-A-Wish, and helped grant more than 15,500 wishes since their partnership began in 2003, but they couldn't have done that without the support of everyday people. The crux of that support comes from Macy's Believe Campaign — the longstanding holiday fundraising effort where for every letter to Santa that's written online at Macys.com or dropped off safely at the red Believe mailbox at their stores, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. New this year, National Believe Day will be expanded to National Believe Week and will provide customers the opportunity to double their donations ($2 per letter, up to an additional $1 million) for a full week from Sunday, Nov. 29 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

There are more ways to support Make-A-Wish besides letter-writing too. If you purchase a $4 Believe bracelet, $2 of each bracelet will be donated to Make-A-Wish through Dec. 31. And for families who are all about the holiday PJs, on Giving Tuesday (Dec. 1), 20 percent of the purchase price of select family pajamas will benefit Make-A-Wish.

Elizabeth living out her wish of being a fashion designer

Additionally, this year's campaign features 6-year-old Elizabeth, a Make-A-Wish child diagnosed with leukemia, whose wish to design a dress recently came true. Thanks to the style experts at Macy's Fashion Office and I.N.C. International Concepts, only at Macy's, Elizabeth had the opportunity to design a colorful floral maxi dress. Elizabeth's exclusive design is now available online at Macys.com and in select Macy's stores. In the spirit of giving back this holiday season, 20 percent of the purchase price of Elizabeth's dress (through Dec. 31) will benefit Make-A-Wish.You can also donate directly to Make-A-Wish via Macy's website.

This holiday season may be a tough one this year, but you can bring joy to children fighting critical illnesses by delivering hope for their wishes to come true.

via Twins Trust / Twitter

Twins born with separate fathers are rare in the human population. Although there isn't much known about heteropaternal superfecundation — as it's known in the scientific community — a study published in The Guardian, says about one in every 400 sets of fraternal twins has different fathers.

Simon and Graeme Berney-Edwards, a gay married couple, from London, England both wanted to be the biological father of their first child.

"We couldn't decide on who would be the biological father," Simon told The Daily Mail. "Graeme said it should be me, but I said that he had just as much right as I did."

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There's a weird thing that happens when we talk about people dying, no matter what the cause. The 2,977 souls who lost their lives in the 9/11 attack felt overwhelming. The dozens of children who are killed in school shootings are mourned across the country each time one happens. The four Americans who perished in Benghazi prompted months of investigations and emotional video montages at national political conventions.

But as the numbers of deaths we talk about get bigger, our sensitivity to them grows smaller. A singular story of loss often evokes more emotion than hearing that 10,000 or 100,000 people have died. Hearing a story of one individual feels personal and intimate, but if you try to listen to a thousand stories at once, it all blends together into white noise. It's just how our minds work. We simply can't hold that many individual stories—and the emotion that goes along with them—all at once.

But there are some ways we can help our brains out. An anonymous visual effects artist has created a visualization that can better help us see the massive number of Americans who have been lost to the coronavirus pandemic. The number alone is staggering, and seeing all of the individual lives at once is overwhelming.

In this video, each marble represents one American who has died of COVID-19, and each second represents six days. At the top, you can see the calendar fill in as time goes by. Unlike just seeing a grid of dots representing the visual, there's something about the movement and accumulation of the marbles that makes it easier to see the scope of the lives impacted.

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