Is progressive activism actually above being classist?

Everyone in activist circles today knows that we mess up sometimes. All of us have faults and oversights, and sometimes these oversights can be harmful for those we’re trying to help. We’ve all been trying to become more intersectional, in terms of gender, race, sexuality, ability, and national origin, but many young activists like myself have a noticeable blind spot: class.

Activist circles, especially on college campuses and on social media, can lean whiter and wealthier. While activists themselves come from many different backgrounds, often the wealthy, white activists end up with larger platforms and leadership positions.

First off, let’s talk about our progressive memes. I’m never against poking fun at racists, sexists, and homophobes. They need to be held accountable, and humor is a great means of doing so. However, I do take issue with the portrayal of all bigots as poor, Southern people. You know the stereotypical image of a bigot; a redneck, wearing shabby denim and plaid, often unwashed and missing a few teeth, and living in a rundown trailer. I shouldn’t have to explain why this is classist. Sure, plenty of low-income rural White people are racist, but so are wealthy politicians, businessmen, lawyers, and doctors. So are many of the middle-class white “liberals” in our own communities.

Oftentimes, our humor doesn’t so much poke fun at the bigotry, but at the poverty of these individuals. The butt of the joke isn’t necessarily that someone is a bigot, but that they live in a trailer park and are overweight. I fail to see what’s so “woke” about making fun of someone’s economic circumstances or personal appearance. Plenty of intelligent, open-minded, and progressive people live in trailer parks and rural towns. Plenty of racists and bigots are skinny, pretty, and rich. We shouldn’t associate appearances with morality. It’s incorrect, and downright offensive.

Often the wealthy, white activists end up with larger platforms and leadership positions.

We also need to consider the way that performative activism harms low-income communities. In order to be “woke,” according to white progressives, we need to shop sustainably, eat organically, and read political theory. The problem is, not everyone can afford to do this. Sustainable clothes often cost a lot more money, and many low-income people rely on fast fashion. Fast fashion is an evil industry, but shaming the people who are forced to buy into it doesn’t make you a better person. Organic food is expensive, and many people can’t afford to buy it that often. In fact, many low-income communities are food deserts, where grocery shopping takes a great deal of transportation. Even the emphasis on reading theory is somewhat classist. Not everyone can afford to go to college and get access to such academic writing, or to buy a heap of out-of-print theory books. It’s a privilege to be woke. 

The problem is, progressive politics has become more of an aesthetic than a movement, and this aesthetic can only be achieved by upper-middle class college kids or young urban professionals. The standards we have for each other are literally impossible for low-income people to meet. Furthermore, we immediately assume that anyone who presents as working-class is conservative, bigoted, or ignorant. It is so difficult for any low-income person to break into the sphere of progressive politics. We simply don’t make any room for them.

So how do we solve this? First, we need to acknowledge that low-income and working-class people are actually doing the groundwork behind most progressive political movements. We wouldn’t be where we are today without working-class grassroots work. We also need to shift the way we code progressive politics. Being progressive isn’t just about drinking out of a reusable water bottle, and wearing the right brands of clothing. Being progressive can be someone in a trailer park registering their neighbors to vote, or a steelworker starting a union, or people at a local church creating a clothing drive for the needy. Just because they don’t “look” woke, doesn’t mean they aren’t making important contributions.  I would go as far to say that people like this should be leading our activist movements; upper-middle-class white people should serve as allies

We need to acknowledge that low-income and working-class people are actually doing the groundwork behind most progressive political movements.

All of us have oversights, but as activists, it’s our job to try to correct these prejudices and challenge our assumptions. Looking down at low-income people is not a progressive value, and it never will be. It’s time we open up our activism to people of all incomes and economic backgrounds. We need to recognize that they are responsible for some of the most important progressive groundwork. Progressive politics isn’t about what you wear, what you eat, and what products you use. It’s about compassion, dedication, equality, justice, and hard work. Let’s stop focusing on appearances, and start focusing on action.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Fashion Lookbook

Your brand isn’t body-positive if you don’t make clothing for fat people

I recently saw an ad for a body positive t-shirt company online. Being a fan of slogan t-shirts, I checked it out. I was about to buy a shirt that said ‘Riots, Not Diets’ when I realized the shirt didn’t come in my size. The largest size was about a UK size 12, which is too small for me.

Browsing through the site, I realized that there were no T-shirts larger than a size 12. I also noticed that the models they used were pretty thin, too. It’s ironic to use slogans like ‘all bodies are good bodies’ if you only cater to some bodies.

Unfortunately, there are more brands like this that claim to be body positive but don’t make clothing for fat people.  There was a local handmade underwear brand that I used to love because they often posted whimsical photos of models with stretchmarks, captioned with lines of poetry about self-love. Eventually, I realized all their models were around a size 6, and that they didn’t make bralettes for people larger than 34B. When asked about this on Instagram, the company responded by saying bralettes don’t look attractive on larger breasts – something that’s both rude and untrue.

If you’re thin, you might not think about making your brand accessible to fat people. But the point that I’m trying to make is that you should. You can’t use body positivity to make money without caring about the people who need it the most.

Let me be clear: thin privilege is real. If you’re a thin person you might struggle to recognize it, just as a straight person might struggle to recognize their straight privilege. But it’s still there.

Weight discrimination alludes to the assumption that fat people are unhealthy (even though this is not the case – check out the site Health at Every Size if you’re curious about this). It means we assume fat people are lazy, slovenly, or undisciplined. It means that fat people are often concern-trolled about their health and eating – as if it’s anyone’s business. It means that fat people are less likely to be hired; if they are, they’re likely to earn less than their thin counterparts. It means furniture isn’t made for fat people. It means that fat people aren’t seen as the ‘norm’ sexually, and instead, they may be fetishized. For fat people, it also means it’s hard to find celebrities or models their size, and it’s difficult to shop for clothing that fits them. And, while skinny-shaming isn’t cool, it certainly doesn’t negate the societal power thin people have over fat people.

Fat people are oppressed by society because of their size, and thin people are not.

Thin privilege is something that happens on a spectrum; it’s not black-or-white. I have a little thin privilege over those who are larger than me. I don’t think I’ve ever been bullied for my weight, but models in mainstream magazines, even ‘plus-size models’, are usually smaller than me. I can find clothes for myself, but with difficulty as my size falls within the ‘plus size’ range. I fit into chairs and airplane seats, but doctors automatically assume I don’t eat well and suggest I lose weight.

Still, it’s hard to remember my privilege when I’m usually the largest person in the room/bar/restaurant. My annoyance at being unable to find clothing with certain brands online is a constant struggle for larger people. Many stores don’t carry my size, but some still do – larger people aren’t as lucky.

Compared to the problems fat people face on a daily basis, a t-shirt made too small might seem like a petty non-issue. But it epitomizes a larger issue: that fat people are being pushed out of their own movement.

Body positivity is a movement that started because of fat acceptance activists. Body positivity should include making the world more accessible to fat people. This includes clothing. Otherwise, you’re commodifying body positivity while excluding those who need it most.

Body positivity isn’t a trendy caption – it should be a part of a broader movement. If you’re using body positive platitudes but you don’t make clothing for people over a size 12, you’re not body positive. You’re saying, “Self-love is great, but only for people who basically already fit the status quo”. As the writer Your Fat Friend writes in this gorgeous piece, body positivity shouldn’t come with caveats about which bodies are acceptable.

Thin people, if you believe fat people don’t deserve to be discriminated against, don’t support these brands. Call them out. Ask questions about why their sizing is so limited. Put your money where your mouth is.

You can’t call yourself body positive if you don’t believe fat people should be able to access the clothing thin people can access. It’s a tiny, basic step towards fat acceptance. If you truly believe in body positivity, it should be a no-brainer for you.

Editor's Picks Movie Reviews Movies BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

My no chill, totally unabridged, SPOILER-Y reaction to “Avengers: Endgame”

In the most amazing feat of my life, I was lucky enough to go see a free screening of Avengers: Endgame last night. I’ve been waiting for the movie half of my life – I’ve been following the MCU since I was 10. I stood in line for hours, finishing homework – the student life never ends – and making friends, and eventually got into the theatre.

Over the next three hours, I was mesmerized by almost every moment as the mystery behind the movie meant that I had no one idea what would happen (I managed to escape spoilers!) and was thus fully immersed in the movie.

The short version is that Avengers: Endgame was amazing and brilliant and officially my favorite movie in all of Marvel history.

The long version is as follows…

Nat did not have to die.

I am still confused as to how it had to be her, who decided this? I legit cannot come up with any reason as to why it had to be her. And I’m also mad because I can’t think of anyone else who should have died for the Soul Stone, either.

The fatphobic ‘jokes’ constantly made against Thor throughout the movie were extremely bothersome and wrong and unnecessary. If you have to turn to fatphobia in order to think you’re funny, then you’re not actually funny. It was the only thing I disliked about the movie, to be honest, and I’m quite disappointed that Marvel thought the ‘jokes’ were okay.

All the kids? They’re so grown! I mean, first off, I’m still confused as to how Cassie Lang looks as old as she does – I know it’s an age-up but she really aged up. And then we have one of Clint’s kids who honestly should be the next Hawkeye. And then WE HAVE MORGAN FREAKING STARK! Imagine Morgan and Peter and Harley (aka the kid from Iron Man 3, in case you hadn’t recognized him) having scenes together.

My heart.

Can we please take a minute to appreciate the peace and balance of Bruce and Hulk? We stan a man who went from attempting suicide to finally figuring himself out and being confident about it. Like, actually, even when he was nervous while figuring out time travel, Hulk/Bruce seemed so much more stable and put together than he has ever seemed in the past and I am so happy about that. Also, I can totally see him be an Instagram influencer after that scene with the kids who wanted to take a picture with him.

Carol Danvers should have had more appearances in the movie and I will fight anyone and everyone about this.

The woman is ridiculously powerful and kind and funny and an amazing human being (as previously seen in the Captain Marvel movie) but she was barely touched on in this movie. As a friend said, Carol was simply the “big guns” of the team and didn’t get to have as many interactions with the team as I hoped/wanted.

That quick (pampering?) women empowerment moment in the final battle sequence was AWESOME but it was quick… too little. Don’t get me wrong, I screamed and shouted “GO WOMEN!” as I pumped my fist in the air but, looking back, I just wish there were also smaller scenes dedicated to the women, as there were so many times for the men. 

Thor and Captain America both being worthy of Mjolnir and Stormbreaker was an amazing, shocking moment that I didn’t see coming, even though it was set up so perfectly in Avengers: Age of Ultron. When the hammer was moved to save Thor, the theatre unanimously went YES! When it was shown as Steve being worthy and holding the hammer, though? The entire theatre had NO CHILL! We all yelled and screamed and shouted and, if we hadn’t been sitting in recliner seats, probably would have jumped out of our seats.

Now to the elephant in the room, Tony dying. It’s fitting that he did so killing his greatest enemy, but I was still shocked when Tony died as a result of using the gauntlet. Sure, it makes sense as humans with even one Infinity Stone don’t survive, but, my favorite character, dead? The reason and beginning of the MCU, dead? My heart didn’t want to accept it. The entire time that it was happening, I kept hope that he would be able to live. I was thinking that in some magical, Iron Man 3-like moment, his wounds could be treated and he’d be saved. When I heard Tony’s voice as part of the hologram, before we saw it was a hologram, I had a glimmer of hope. But, in the end, that didn’t happen and I still haven’t fully processed it.

The final scene where Cap goes to return each of the stones and then comes back as an older man was both surprising and completely right.

I mean, as my friend later pointed out, due to how the Sorcerer Supreme explained the timelines, Cap getting to be with Peggy and then returning to our timeline as an old man kind of broke the rules. Nonetheless, I was so happy when Steve handed over his shield to Sam. I was still surprised that they actually followed the storyline from the Captain America comics. I’m assuming that the Falcon & Winter Soldier series on Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+, will be about Sam’s journey as Cap, so I’m interested to see how Sam will take the role and the mantle.

Overall, I loved Avengers: Endgame.

Part of it is the movie, of course, however, most of it is also the experience itself, it’s the movie of a lifetime. Looking back now, I am still in shock over how my experience turned out, as well as how the movie played out. I’m ridiculously happy about 90% of everything that happened and would give it full marks.


It’s about time we see eating disorders as social justice issues

Hunger is a biological cry for sustenance – a feedback loop that shouts into the void of an empty stomach and gurgles and twists in discomfort, as a brilliant mind commands endless energy.

And in the face of a society gone mad, a brilliant mind tells hunger that it is a lie.

When we think of eating disorders, the primary thought is that they often stem from a diet gone wrong. Perhaps, they are even a dangerous cocktail of vanity and mental illness. Society pictures cheerleaders squeezing into size zero jeans with their hip bones visible over their waistbands, and think that the solution lies in inpatient programs with therapy, regimented meals, and supervision.

This image of eating disorders is symptom-based. It focuses on the effects of eating disorders, but not the macro scale that considers the cause and result of them. This view is clinical and ignores the truth of the matter, that eating disorders at their core, are a symptom of a broken society.

Eating disorders are allowed to fester in society because of two related afflictions: sizeism and diet culture.

Sizeism is the discrimination against a person because of their body fat percentage. It feeds the assumption that people in larger bodies are unhealthy. Sizeism also extends into other socioeconomic categories. According to the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination, overweight people make on average $1.25 per hour less than standard sized people.

These people may also face discrimination in the doctor’s office, and feel constant pressure to lose weight from friends and family. Even something as simple as buying an airline ticket can be a silent damnation of their size.

While larger, bodied people feel pressure to lose weight, smaller people often feel compelled to maintain their small size. The status of a small body often keeps portion sizes minimal, and exercise levels high.

The second part of our social environment that allows eating disorders to thrive is diet culture. Diet culture drives the morality behind food and food-related behaviors. Like sizeism, it rewards thinness, but it also rewards food choices. It promotes eating “healthy” foods, over “bad” foods. This is the main drive behind many eating disorders, like orthorexia, and causes people to have dysfunctional relationships with food.

A perfect example of this toxic environment is the rebranding that the Weight Watchers brand is currently taking. Weight Watchers is attempting to distance itself from the “weight” part of its name and define itself as a wellness brand. Focusing on Wellness, they intend to become safe for all – piggybacking on the warm definition of “wellness” that is not weight loss goals or a pants size – but feeling healthy.

Their image of healthy, of course, would not include superheavyweight powerlifters, or Olympic weightlifters who are capable of incredible feats with their bodies.

When we look at eating disorders as a social justice issue, the focus isn’t just on the cause, but also on the impact of sufferers, and the barriers to recovery. While our society seems to do nothing but encourage, and then demonize eating disorders – recovery is often a difficult process.

For many people, the round-the-clock support that is often required to support someone coming from the brink of an eating disorder is often unattainable. Moreso, those who are suffering from an eating disorder may not be able to take the time off work to seek full treatment strategies – such as inpatient or long-term therapy sessions.

For the one in three eating disorder sufferers who identify as male, the stereotype of a female patient may make it difficult for them to access recovery options. Nonbinary sufferers may also struggle with the identification of having an eating disorder, causing a delay in recognizing that they’re suffering from a potentially life-threatening diagnosis.

Because of the pressures that push people into eating disorders, and the difficulty in recovery, there is a greater socioeconomic drive that causes people to fall prey to this insidious disorder and then stay there. Eating disorders will continue to be a social health issue as long as diet culture is allowed to thrive. 

People need to fight back, and feel comfortable in there’s no shame in their bodies. And, there’s no shame in those bodies being hungry.

Press Pop Culture

Best of The Tempest 2018: 9 Stories from Pop Culture

It’s been a peculiar year in the realm of entertainment. We’ve had such big, progressive victories and such big setbacks and anachronisms in terms of representation, transparency, and inclusivity. Many LGBTQ+ artists thrived, and 2018 was dubbed 20GAYTEEN by singer Hayley Kiyoko. It was the year of Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians, and yet big name studios are still out there producing films that are imbued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and fatphobia as well as often promoting rape and hate.

We’re still light years away from consuming the egalitarian entertainment we deserve. I knew that very well when I became Pop Culture Editor at The Tempest. I understood that I would have to look closely at many media products that would make me mad, which I would rather ignore and avoid at all costs, but I gladly accepted the challenge. I believe our mission is to shed light on everything that is going on, and that includes denouncing the many injustices that occur in the entertainment industry. We can’t possibly stay silent about the things we deem wrong, because silence is complicity.

But we also don’t like to only see the glass half empty, and we love to admit that there are many things to praise and to celebrate. Without further ado, I present to you 9 of my favorite Pop Culture stories we published in 2018, a mix of the good and the bad.

1. Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Why are blockbuster films pretending that lesbians and bisexuals don’t exist?

Despite the good representation that television and the music industry gifted us with this year, blockbusters are still actively promoting the erasure of female queerness as well as employing queer bait. This is a trend that needs to stay in 2018.

2. What time is it, Hollywood?

What time is it, Hollywood?

What about what happens behind the camera? This article explores some trends of the entertainment industry from the inside out, because actresses are not the only people we need to protect. Let’s say #TimesUp to all kinds of discrimination.

3. Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

Dislikeable female characters aren’t inherently feminist – but that’s okay

There is a big misconception in fiction and in critique: that a female character who dares be different and dislikable is automatically a great feminist heroine. She’s not, and that’s okay.

4. Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

Why I’m boycotting J.K. Rowling and her “Fantastic Beasts”

We are tired of people giving J.K. Rowling a free pass for everything just because she wrote a beautiful book series 20 years ago. For a while now, she has been twisting things to appear “woke” instead of honestly admitting that as the times progressed, she also wants to be more inclusive. There is no need to say that she was planning plot twists all along when in reality the implications of that make her way more problematic. Read why in this piece!

5. Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

Bollywood item numbers are more dangerous than we think

If you don’t know what an item number is, you need to read this piece. If you do know, you need to read this piece. It’s eye-opening and I will never look at a Bollywood film the same way again.

6. This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

This director’s approach to diverse female characters completely changed my movie-watching experience

Contrary to what some haters will have you believe about feminists, we do celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of men, when they deserve it. This article is a clap on the back of an Oscar-winning director for an amazing film that contributed to making 2018 better.

7. Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think

Yes, The Bold Type is unrealistic… just not for the reasons you think 

You may or may not know this show, which was a true revelation for its honest representation of working (and woke!) millennial women. However, the show has been accused of portraying a utopistic world of equality (but it really doesn’t, the protagonists deal with misogyny, racism and homophobia every day). This article cleverly responds to that claim, contextualizing it particularly within the journalism world (where the main characters spend most of their time) that we know too well.

8. Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Karma has finally come for Chris Brown, and we can thank women for that

Abusers deserve to be held accountable for their actions. After the tidal wave that was the #MeToo movement, it’s good to see that celebrities are still being taken down after abusive behavior.

9. My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

My mind tells me to read, but my body is overwhelmed and overworked

A constant struggle in the transition to adulthood is that we are burdened with too many responsibilities and we have too little time to do the things we actually want to do out of sheer pleasure, like reading. It does not help that books have gained a very strong competitor for our time and attention, the “monster” that are streaming services.

We’re ready to kiss 2018 goodbye. In the hope that 2019 will be a more satisfying year for women, people of color, and all oppressed minorities, happy new year from the staff of The Tempest!

Editor's Picks Love Life Stories Wellness

I was 11 years old when my mom signed me up for WW. This is what happened.

Trigger warning: eating disorders

I was 11 years old when I attended my first Weight Watchers’ meeting.

I was a preteen who didn’t understand diets, exercise, or what made a healthy lifestyle. Every Tuesday, my mother would tell me to pick foods that were low in salt, because salt caused water retention. I would go to our local banquet hall every Wednesday after school and step on a scale in front of what seemed like hundreds of women who were at least three times my age.

I remember her telling me to wear a light t-shirt and shorts, and take off my shoes to make sure I got the lowest weight possible. Those meetings quickly taught me that fat was the enemy.

US News and World Reports rates Weight Watchers as the best weight-loss diet of all. The program uses spokespeople like Oprah Winfrey and DJ Khaled to bring a friendly face to calorie restriction. Weight Watchers claim that their points system is designed to help you eat whatever you want and still lose weight. 

In February, Weight Watchers stated that they would offer free memberships to teenagers looking to develop healthy habits and get in shape this year.

The problem with this? The program epitomizes diet culture.

Diet culture is what fuels us to attach morality to food – that is, when we feel morally ‘bad’ for eating some foods and morally ‘good’ for eating others. It drives fatphobia – that is, the oppression of fat people, which is evident in the discrimination they face. Diet culture pushes many people to develop eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia, or even orthorexia – which is an eating disorder that involves an obsession with eating ‘healthily’.

The ‘points’ system used by Weight Watchers does a perfect job of revealing the arbitrary nature of how we categorize ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. In their system, some foods have the illustrious title of ‘zero points foods,’ meaning you can eat them without cutting into your bank.

It is blatantly arbitrary in what foods are ‘zero points’ and what aren’t. For example, an egg is zero points in the Weight Watchers system, while an avocado isn’t.

As an 11-year-old kid, I struggled to adhere to the Weight Watchers system. My mother eventually grew bored of trying to create child-friendly diet meals, and let me returned to my kid-approved chicken fingers and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches without much protest.

When I was 17, I chose to attempt Weight Watchers a second time. The seeds of diet culture were firmly sown in my mind by then, and I was dead set on changing my ‘obese’ frame. I started with a bank of 17 assigned ‘points’ and got to work eatingsalads, skipping breakfast, and stockpiling my allowances for ice cream after dinner.

I realized, if I strictly ate 17 points worth of food, I lost weight. If I ate 15, the weight came off even faster.

Points ticked down quickly, and within six months I’d lost 80 pounds. The mindset taught to me by Weight Watchers influenced me into participating in unhealthy behaviors – behaviors that could only be described as anorexia. I did shots of hot sauce to suppress my appetite after school and drank gallons of water to stave off being dizzy. These habits came to a grinding halt after I’d passed out during a shower.

Weight Watchers’ website addresses this behavior in mild language on their FAQ page. “Should members be eating ONLY the zero Points® foods on the new WW Freestyle™ program? In a word, no,” it says. “While there are many foods with a SmartPoints value of zero, a healthy and realistic lifestyle includes eating a wide variety of foods to prevent boredom and ensure proper nutrition.”

Even so, the mindset that Weight Watchers promotes can be unhealthy for adults and teenagers alike. Weight Watchers promotes dangerously restrictive behaviors, even if that’s not their stated intention. Not to condescend to teenagers, but they can be even more vulnerable to this unhealthy doctrine.

The time of a high-school student is too precious to be wasted. It’s a time for experiencing life, building relationships, uncovering interests and being empowered with the strength to carry on a lifetime of growth. This time is too precious to be spent on weight loss.

Companies like Weight Watchers do not want you to love your body. With millions of members, their business model relies on the fact that you don’t.

Instead, let’s teach our children what’s truly empowering: loving yourself despite what the advertisers want you to believe. Through self love, you can unlock the kind of power that no one else can give. That kind of power can change the world.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please consult the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) website for help. 

TV Shows BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

Make no mistake: Netflix’s new show ‘Insatiable’ absolutely has to be canceled

When I opened Instagram Thursday morning, I was met with a barrage of posts about a trailer for the new Netflix show Insatiable. I scrolled through the captions with horror. This can’t be real, I thought. This can’t be real.

Another TV show portraying that weight loss leads to complete transformation? A TV show marketed at young girls in a world where we know eating disorders remain the deadliest mental illness? A thin woman portraying a fat woman wearing a freaking fat suit?!

In the name of self-care, I put off watching the trailer. But curiosity got the best of me, and I watched it that evening.

The trailer for Insatiable begins with Patty (post-Disney starlet Debby Ryan, fat-suited and CGI’d), a miserable-looking young woman glaring at the mirror and being bullied relentlessly in a high school hallway as “Fatty Patty.” But Patty gets punched in the face, leading to doctors wiring her jaw shut for a summer. As she says in a voiceover: “Having my jaw wired shut lost me more than just my summer vacation.” She loses a significant amount of weight over her jaw-shut summer, and returns to school thin, “hot,” and ready for revenge.

It’s sexist. It’s fatphobic. It’s unrealistic. And it’s deeply harmful.

A few months ago, eating disorder recovery and body-positive advocate Dani Adriana required jaw surgery herself, and was met with vitriol at her consultation appointment. She wrote on Instagram: “[I] had double jaw surgery  for teeth alignment and was told by my jaw surgeon ‘it’s a shame we don’t wire jaws anymore you could afford to not eat for a while.’” Dani – who did not once mention weight loss – was told someone wished to shut her jaw because of their own fatphobia.

Dani is one of many writers, activists, and social media personalities who spoke up about her eating disorder recovery when stating the harmfulness of Insatiable. I guess I’m one, too.

For many years, I also believed that thinness was the solution to my happiness.

I wasn’t bullied in high school – and I wasn’t fat, either, as much as my budding disordered mind shouted that I was. But I bought into the myth that there was a thinner, flat-stomached girl inside of me waiting to come out and thrive if I just “accidentally” forgot my lunch in my car one more time.

Image description: A teenaged girl, in a fat-suit and makeup looks sadly at blue lockers with the words "Fatty Patty" painted on them and an image of a pig with her face on it.
Via Netflix

Lexie Manion, a mental health blogger, responded to the trailer on her Instagram. She told me: “ This depiction we often see presented by diet culture shames fat people. We need to collectively learn that shame never instigates change… People are people — not butterflies in cocoons that have been demonized by those who refuse to understand there is more to someone than what they look like.”

This is directly referencing the trailer, where the “new” hot Patty looks at her classmates and muses, “Now I could be the former fatty who turned into a brain, or an athlete, or a princess.” As if being fat is a whole identity — as if thinness is a requisite to have a personality, interests, a life. If losing weight changes how you exist socially, it’s because we live in a society that treats thinner people more kindly.

Bringing me to another myth: the willpower this show falsely associates with “not eating” for a whole summer is not a nutritional reality. I spoke to my friend Amber Terschak, who is in eating disorder recovery and completing her master’s in dietetics.

“This is a completely inaccurate depiction of someone who ‘wired their jaw shut,’” she said. “They show Patty as having clear skin, full hair, exorbitant energy, and a sharp mind. However, anyone who goes this such a drastic weight loss is going to most likely show signs of malnutrition, [such as] hair loss, brittle nails, dull skin, fatigue, and brain fog.”

Anyone who restricts their eating this significantly, regardless of body size, would feel these physical and mental consequences. And even much more mild restriction could lead to dieting, which is not only often unsuccessful but is also the biggest risk factor for the development of an eating disorder.

This morning, I bought a croissant with my iced coffee when I went to write this piece at a coffee shop.

And even two years into recovery, my eating disorder had a field day. Like many, I’m both in a small body and a body that’s bigger than it used to be. People are looking at you, my brain said. What makes you think you deserve to eat this in public?!

It still takes a minute to recenter.

So sign a petition. Post about it. Refuse to watch it. Speak up against diet culture, especially as a smaller-bodied ally.

Teen girls deserve better. Fat people deserve better. We all do.

If you are struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association is a great resource. Visit here:

Love + Sex Love

Food is my love language – and resistance to every ad telling us not to eat

I believe strongly in the power of cooking and eating a single meal: that it can boost your mood, comfort you, and help you heal. Cultivating a healthy, positive relationship with food has been extraordinarily helpful for my physical and mental health.

Food means a lot to me – which is why cooking is how I show my love for others.

[bctt tweet=”Cultivating a healthy, positive relationship with food has been extraordinarily helpful for my physical and mental health.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My relationship with food wasn’t always positive. Since I’m an anxious person with PTSD, my anxiety would reduce my appetite. As a result, I developed some disordered eating patterns. I also have a tendency to obsess over new things, which means I’ve had issues with continually tracking my food and restricting the food I ate in the past.

When I lived in a university residence, my stomach was always homesick for cooked meals. We couldn’t cook our own meals in the dorms, and my budget as a student was limited. The cafeteria food wasn’t awful, but because it was mass-produced it lacked the hominess I longed for. I used to think about the love my family poured into their cooking. Food tastes better when the cook knows who’s going to eat it.

My memories of residence are cloudy. I think it’s because I cried nearly every day: in the spacious, unfamiliar showers, on my bed, in the bathroom stalls. I was depressed, fatigued, and constantly dissociating. I needed a lot of support and therapy. Something else I needed? Food. I needed to know I was worth cooking for and worth feeding.

[bctt tweet=” I needed to know I was worth cooking for and worth feeding.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My life has changed since I lived in a residence. I now work full-time, I have a kitchen of my own, and I know how to cook and bake pretty well. I’m now in a position to ease the homesickness of my past self. My mind is clearer and my brain chemistry feels more stable now, but my friends aren’t always as lucky as me.

Many of my friends are younger than me. Most are students, meaning they have a limited budget and not much time to cook. Many of them also live in a university residence or dorm – and not self-catering ones, either – so they don’t get the opportunity to make delicious meals for themselves. In other words, they’re in a similar position to the one I was in.

Like I did, they often battle with homesickness and mental illness. And as many of us know, cooking when you’re depressed or burnt out is a challenge in itself.

Recently, a friend of mine went through a tough time. Their pain was so visible to me, it was nearly contagious. When I hugged them I could feel their muscles aching. “I don’t know what to do,” they said. “I’m so out of it, I don’t know what to do.” It threw me back to the times I lived in residence, and the times I was in a deep depression. I know what it’s like to feel so broken you’re not even sure what you need because I’ve been there.

But now, I knew what could help my friend. It’s what I needed in my darkest hour: food. So, I made them a nourishing meal. As I cooked, I finally understood what it means when someone says they made food ‘with love’. When they ate my food, they seemed happier, like they had a short respite from the difficult circumstances that surrounded them. I was happy that I could bring them a little joy. That’s exactly what I needed when I was at my lowest point.

[bctt tweet=”I finally understood what it means when someone says they made food ‘with love’.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Cooking isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It involves skills, planning, time, money, and energy. It’s laborious. But this also means cooking is a brilliant way of showing love. It tells someone they’re worth the effort. 

I’ve healed broken hearts in between mouthfuls of soup and salad. I helped tired, stressed people by saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll cook tonight.” I’ve made people’s lives easier by telling them I can cook to suit their allergies and intolerances. I’m not always great at giving advice to people in need, but I can always make food. That’s my superpower.

It’s hard not to be bombarded with toxic ideas around food nowadays. In a society that glorifies thinness and discriminates against fat people, food is often seen as a means to an end. We’re encouraged to restrict ourselves. We moralize food and judge it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on how many calories it contains. Even in ‘healthy food’ spaces and the body-positive community, people often discuss food in terms of how it will affect their weight, not how it can fuel, delight, or heal them.

This makes it all the more important to think of food as a potential tool of love and nourishment.

[bctt tweet=”Our society has toxic ideas about eating – which makes it all the more important to think of food as a potential tool of love.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When you consume nourishing food, you aren’t just eating something delicious. You’re telling your body that it’s worth fueling. Similarly, when you give food to someone else, you’re telling them you want them to be nourished.

To me, that’s love made visible.

Fashion Lookbook

8 plus-size fashion icons you need to follow on Instagram, like right now

The word ‘fatshion’ isn’t just a great portmanteau – it’s a revolutionary term.

Many people have been reclaiming the term ‘fat’ and using it in a positive way. Since ‘fat’ is often used as an insult, this is challenges fatphobia in itself. Often, the fashion industry leaves out whoever isn’t thin. Fat people are often made to feel like fashion isn’t for them. Where fat people are pushed out of fashion, the word ‘fatshion’ quite literally puts ‘fat’ right back in there. Fatshion provides fat people with a way to express themselves and celebrate their bodies as they are.

The following influencers and bloggers challenge this notion by proudly celebrating the beauty of their fat or plus-size bodies, encouraging everyone to re-think the ideas we have around beauty, fatness, and attraction.

1. Saucye West (@saucyewest)

Plus-size model and fat acceptance activist Saucye West is unapologetically fat. She made waves when she started #FatandFree, a hashtag that has inspired many fat people to share their experiences and assert their right to exist as fat people. 

Instead of wearing ‘flattering’ or ‘slimming’ clothing, she wears whatever she likes – and she looks amazing every time.

2. Marie Southard Ospina (@mariesouthardospina)

Marie Southard Ospina is a Colombian-American journalist, fat acceptance activist, and an all-around stylish human. Her powerful writing on eating disorder recovery, fat liberation, style, and fatshion will touch your heart and open your mind, and her Instagram posts will make you jealous of her amazing wardrobe.

3. Bethany Rutter (@bethany_rutter)

Bethany Rutter doesn’t just have gorgeous taste in clothing – she’s a writer, editor, and speaker, too. Her book, Plus+, is a coffee-table book of plus-size fashion inspiration, featuring dozens of plus-size fatshion influencers and activists.

4. Marquis Neal (@marquimode)

A plus-size model who doesn’t conform to gendered ideas around fashion, Marquis is a trendsetter we should all follow. As a femme, queer man of color, he provides much-needed representation to those who are often marginalized or excluded in mainstream media. 

“You can be incredibly comfortable with your body and the person you are internally, but sometimes it is really hard to externalize that in [a] place that doesn’t accept what you’re trying to give out,” he said in a recent interview with NBC.

5. Pepper M (@prettypluspep)

A self-described closet therapist and plus-sized fashion blogger, Pepper’s Instagram is full of gorgeous, inspiring outfits. 

It’s important for me to share with plus size women of all ages the clear message that they too can look and feel as fabulous as their favorite celebrity or corporate mogul without spending tons of money and with minimal effort,” her blog reads.

6. Tonsa Blush (@tonsablush)

Canada-based fashion blogger Sarah Anne combines fat activism and plus-sized fashion on her blog and Instagram. “Discovering fat activism taught me how to break down what I was feeling about my body and address my insecurities,” her blog reads. “It has allowed me to grow into a confident woman and I couldn’t be more grateful.” 

 It’s hard to tell what I love more: her flawless make-up, her gorgeous outfits, or her warm smile.

7. Troy Solomon (@abearnamedtroy)

Troy Solomon, aka A Bear Named Troy, is worth following if you love trend-setting that challenges gendered ideas around clothing and make-up. 

His edgy, gender-bending outfits are nothing short of amazing, and he’s unafraid to promote body-positivity and self-love on his platforms.

8. Marlena Matute (@bigcity_curvygirl_thinwallet)

An Afro-Latina fashion blogger and body-positive feminist, Marlena is all about budget-friendly fashion. Her blog’s slogan is ‘Break beauty standards, not your budget’ – and her inspiring fashion tips and posts about fat acceptance help you do just that. She’s unafraid to get real about her journey of self-love, sharing words of wisdom alongside her gorgeous outfits.

We live in a fatphobic world – one where fat people are routinely discriminated against. In this context, it’s pretty damn revolutionary to point out that plus-sized or fat people are beautiful. While fat people shouldn’t need to be stylish to be valued, fatshion reclaims an area where fat people are often dismissed.

These influencers and bloggers are challenging stereotypes and changing minds, one stylish outfit at a time.

Love Wellness

I used to love my food tracker app until I got obsessed. Then everything fell apart.

Sometimes, we try to be healthy – only to obsess over health, ironically hurting ourselves. I learned this the hard way when I downloaded a food tracker.

I’ve had strange eating patterns for a while. For a long time, I’d have a lot of anxiety around eating. Because I work from home, I have an unusual routine (read: very little routine). This means I often forget to eat, or I eat too little or too much.

A while ago, I decided to download a food tracker app, thinking it could keep me healthy. Initially, it was really helpful because it tracked how much macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) I was eating. It helped me realize I don’t eat nearly enough protein.

But it didn’t only track the nutrients I was consuming. 

Every day, it would tally up the calories I ate, telling me I’d either gain or lose weight based on how much I ate. It asked me to weigh myself to calculate my BMI, despite the fact that BMI is a really unscientific and useless formula.

After a few weeks, I felt myself getting a little obsessive about the app. 

Because of this, I decided it’s best for me to delete the app. I feel like this was a really smart and mature decision on my part, but if it happened a few years ago, I’d definitely have gotten too engrossed in tracking my food.

Here are three red flags that told me I was getting way too obsessive. These issues told me that I needed to reevaluate my attitudes around food.

 If you have a food tracker, be aware of what your body and brain are telling you. 

1. I’d plan my eating around what the food tracker would say.

A platter of healthy food on a table
[Image Description: A platter of healthy food on a table.] via Unsplash
Initially, I found the app helpful because it was a reminder to eat. If I ate too little – which I often did – I would see that the calorie count was too low, and I’d grab a nutritious snack. 

But after a few weeks, I found myself ridiculously concerned with whatever the app would say. 

If a food wasn’t listed on the app, I’d panic and avoid eating it. I’d enter foods preemptively into my tracker, and if it said there was too much of anything in the food, I’d ditch it.

2. I started obsessively counting calories.

A neon sign reading 'eat what makes you happy'
[Image Description: A neon sign reading ‘eat what makes you happy’.] via Unsplash
Let me repeat this: I didn’t download the app because I wanted to lose weight.

Not consciously, anyway. I didn’t really care about calories, I just wanted to make sure I was eating enough nutrients.

But after a few weeks, I started caring about calories. When I went to the grocery store, I found myself looking at the calorie count of the foods I was buying. I found myself putting foods I didn’t even like or eat into my shopping trolley because they were low-calorie. 

I put away food that I loved – food that is super nourishing and delicious – because I was worried about what my food tracker would say.

That, my friends, sounded some alarm bells.

3. I started caring way too much about my weight.

A person holds a measuring tape in their hands
[Image Description: A person holds a measuring tape in their hands.] via Unsplash
Can I let you in on a piece of potentially life-changing information? 

Fat is not bad. Fat is not unhealthy. Fat is not ugly.

These are things I know to be true. For years, I’ve believed in the Health At Every Size philosophy. HAES points to the stack of research that suggests that fat people aren’t necessarily unhealthy or unfit. Think about it: we all know a skinny person who eats junk and stays thin. 

Similarly, there are many fat people out there who eat well, exercise, and are healthy.

The major red flag for me is that I started suspending this belief. 

I looked in the mirror and thought about how I could cut down on food to change how my body. I saw the fat on my body as problems I needed to get rid of, instead of a part of my body.

Fat acceptance is a core belief of mine, so why was an app changing that?

Now, I’m not going to lie to you: I’m sometimes unhappy with how I look, but I’m working on it. 

This time around, though, I felt a little obsessive. I let my hate of fat – a hate we all have ingrained in us, to be honest – dictate my thoughts and actions. I couldn’t stop thinking about how thin I could be.

That’s not me. And when I realized this, I deleted that app fast.

Is it possible to have an obsession-proof food tracker? I don’t think so. 

Even if they didn’t focus on weight, calories, or BMI – which is a bullshit concept, as I mentioned before – many people could still obsess over healthy eating.

Orthorexia, an eating disorder characterized by an obsession with healthy food, is a real issue that often goes ignored because we all see health as something to aspire to. Food trackers could be potentially dangerous for those who have the capacity to get engrossed in food.

Food trackers aren’t going anywhere. 

However, we can try our best to recognize our obsessive behaviors and problematic attitudes and nip them in the bud. 

Remember to be critical of industries that sell you the idea that you need to change your body to be happy. 

Remember to prioritize your mental health while in pursuit of physical health.

Humor Life

7 New Year’s resolutions that aren’t gym-related

It’s 2018, and just like the beginning of every new year, our TVs and news feeds are flooded with advertisements attempting to shame us into buying gym memberships and trying new diets. We are confronted with a barrage of before and after pictures, ridiculously toned people with washboard abs, and overweight folks looking sad and distressed.

I’m all for health and fitness, but this “new year, new body” narrative is garbage because it perpetuates fatphobia by demonizing large bodies and making them undesirable and “other.” If you sign up for a gym membership this year solely because you find the idea of being overweight repulsive or unattractive, you’re working out for the wrong reasons.

There are plenty of other New Year’s resolutions that can boost your happiness and productivity that don’t fuel body shaming. If you want to set some new goals for yourself, consider the following positive habits you can cultivate to make 2018 a better, healthier year.

1. Learn to manage your money

A pink piggy bank.
[Image description: A off-center photo of a pig with a white background.] via Unsplash
This is a huge one for me, and a goal many young adults could probably benefit from. I’ll shamefully admit that I’ve never created – much less stuck to – a legitimate budget. I realize, however, that if I ever want to function as an adult and save for my future, I need to stop spending money on things I don’t need and commit to saving and investing. If you’re also bad with money, there are several apps you can use to start making better spending decisions.

2. Make self-care a priority

A picture of a stethoscope.
[Image description: A black and white photo of a stethoscope.] via Unsplash
By this, I mean putting your mental, sexual, and physical health at the top of your to-do list. If you have the resources to see a doctor or therapist, and you’ve been putting off making an appointment, now is the time to buckle down and see a professional. Don’t let your mental health take a backseat. If you’re experiencing even minor aches or pains, make it a point to see a physician. Even though the visits may be awkward, schedule regular appointments with your gynecologist. It’s easy to push your health aside when you have school, work, deadlines, familial obligations or hobbies, but the reality is that taking care of your wellbeing is too important to ignore this year.

3. Cut out toxic people

A woman with short hair and earrings looks on.
[Image description: A black and white photo of a woman looking away from the camera.] via Unsplash
There is no shame in distancing yourself from, or completely cutting ties with, draining family members or friends. Dealing with people who tear you down, belittle your experiences, demand vast amounts of your emotional labor, poison your sense of self-worth, or hold views that you simply cannot compromise on is unhealthy and exhausting. Ending friendships can be painful, but it is sometimes necessary.

4. Go outside of your comfort zone

A woman stands on a log in a bright blue lake, looking out toward a mountainside filled with trees.
[Image description: A photo of a woman standing on a log that is half in a body of water.] via Unsplash
I’m a pretty shy person, but I’m also learning that I’ll never accomplish anything if I’m always intimidated. Moving beyond your comfort zone doesn’t have to be as drastic as taking a job in a new city – although, if you’re up for it, that’s great too! It can also include learning a skill or hobby, researching a social issue you’re unfamiliar with, volunteering with a new organization, or taking a short vacation by yourself. Baby steps are key.

5. Get political

A picture of a glass door with a "polling station" sign taped to it.
[Image description: A photo of the door to a polling station.] via Unsplash
This is no time to be passive. Advocate for marginalized communities, stand up for equality, call out injustice, contact your representatives, support grassroots organizations, and vote. If you are white, straight, cis, and/or able-bodied, it is especially important that you educate yourself about your privilege(s) so that you know when you’re actually helping, and when you should check yourself. Trump’s presidency isn’t over yet, and we are only aiding his administration if we become complacent.

6. Stop comparing yourself to others

A woman with long dark hair and a nose ring looks directly at the camera. She is wearing a blue shirt and a jean jacket.
[Image description: A black woman looking tough and staring at the camera.] via Unsplash
Everyone is at  different stages in their lives, and that’s okay. You’re not alone, or a dysfunctional human, if you are still trying to find the right job or get accepted into a certain college or program. It’s normal, although sometimes scary, for friend groups to change or dwindle. No one is better than you simply because they take vacations to exotic places or landed a great job with full benefits right out of college. You are a great person with a unique set of skills and talents. Don’t let the perceived success of others make you feel inadequate.

7. Take breaks from social media

A woman with pink nail polish holds a phone. A laptop is present.
[Image description: A photo of a person holding a cell phone with a laptop in the vicinity.] via Unsplash
This goes hand-in-hand with number six. Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram are fun ways to connect with others, but they are also breeding grounds for anxiety and self-doubt. Don’t be afraid to temporarily delete some (or all) social media accounts if you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s understandable that you don’t want to see what everyone on your friends list is up to every second of the day.

New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be unrealistic. They need not be borne out of some insecurity that society tells you must be “fixed.” If you do want to set, and stick to, resolutions this year, pick some that are empowering and promote self-care.

2017 was a rough year. Let’s make 2018 better.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I fell in love on Tumblr and it was incredible. Then everything changed.

In 2010, in the seclusion of my single dorm room, I spent most of my minimal free time on Tumblr, making friends through fandom. I was almost 21 and had never been in a relationship, though it had never occurred to me to try online dating. Some of my most meaningful friendships had been sown and harvested on the internet, but extending that to my love life felt weird.

Mostly, I felt weird. 

That year, I realized with heart-stopping clarity that my attraction to women wasn’t hypothetical. Beyond that, I had a deep-seated hatred of my body that made it difficult for me to converse with people I liked romantically. I would flirt, occasionally, and revel in comments on my heavily edited selfies. 

But whenever anyone asked about my relationship status, I would freak out and delete the messages.

For years, my weight had been a sticking point with people I’d tried to ask out. It felt like something I would never get past; like no matter how great I was, my weight would always turn people off.

I was the disgusting fat girl. End of story.

Then, a Tumblr friendship became more. We were separated by nearly 9,000 miles and a 12-hour time difference to boot, but that seemed manageable. It felt a little like relationship training wheels. My partner couldn’t see me, or my size, and that made me feel safe, even though the few photos I had seen of them intimidated me.

 Here I was, fat and pasty with sticker tattoos, nails bitten to the quick, and glasses that didn’t suit my face. 

In photos, my partner was clearly too hot for me. But they didn’t have to know that.

When asked, I sent photos of myself. They were always angled to make me look thinner, even once those photos became more risqué. I took off clothes and held the camera high, tilted my jaw to give it more of an angle, pushed up my breasts in my fanciest bra.

The first time we had cybersex, it was after I’d sent a topless mirror selfie, the boldest I’d ever been. My stomach wasn’t visible, nor my wide arms. I tilted my head to make my chin and neck look smaller. We sent each other detailed messages of what we would do if we were in the same bed and brought each other to orgasm, thus erasing any trace of my virginity.

Cybersex became a space where I felt comfortable exploring my body with someone else. After several carefully crafted nudes, my partner said, I know what you look like. You don’t have to hide from me. It felt like permission to be fat and have sex. 

It felt monumental.

They complimented my breasts, my face, my hands; they told me my stomach was “cute” and my thick thighs were “nice.”

They nicknamed me “bebe whale” and made it sound like a cute pet name. Although it made my stomach curl the first time, eventually, I got used to it. I even liked it, as long as they didn’t call me that before, during, or after sex.

Sex became a focal point of our connection. 

We had cybersex, phone sex, Skype sex. We recorded voice notes of our orgasms. Eventually, I visited. Any anxiety I had about being with them in person was erased by several delayed flights and a burning desire to just finish the trip, which made our first real-life hug pretty anticlimactic.

At my hotel, it was different. 

I feared that seeing me — really seeing me, without the filter of a camera or the distance of half a globe — would turn them off. But they didn’t hesitate to touch me, once I asked, and we spent three weeks exploring each other, bodies fully on display, limbs entangled.

Physical sex was different from cyber sex. It was headier, messier, sweatier; I couldn’t control the way my stomach jiggled when we moved on the bed or the way my chin multiplied when I pulled back from a kiss. I was too heavy to be on top unless I strained my arms to keep me up, and my partner noticed all of it.

I was self-conscious, and they told me, it’s fine, bebe whale, I love you. I believed them, though the anxiety never really faded after they told me I was squashing them during a particularly vigorous round of intercourse.

When I came home, my weight became a Topic of Conversation.

My partner told me that they wished I could have been on top. They said things like, we could have better sex if you were more flexible. They suggested I lose weight.

The anxiety I’d felt during my visit amplified into something ugly, and it never really went away, even after we broke up. Our cybersex felt like a safe, comfortable space to explore desire, but our physical sex brought it all crashing down. I felt too fat to be wanted.

After everything, I think that’s the one thing I’ll never be able to forgive.

I’ve been with just one other person since that relationship ended. We’re engaged. I know, unequivocally, how deeply I am desired. How deeply I am loved. My weight is neither a positive nor negative; it’s something that simply is

Compliments from my partner are never about my size. 

The pet names they choose don’t make me feel self-conscious. I used to fear that one day, they would wake up, realize I was a fat, ugly mess, and leave. I don’t feel that way anymore.

Of course, there are Bad Days. 

I still talk to my therapist about my weight. About my ex. When someone takes your worst insecurity and makes you feel safe, then rips that away, it’s a betrayal. 

It leaves a scar.

It’s been a long, slow crawl to once again feel like I can be fat and have sex. This time, I don’t feel like I need anyone’s permission but my own. 

That is monumental.