It’s almost May, which means it’s almost warm enough everywhere in the U.S. for people to start busting out the swim gear and heading to the lake or the river or the ocean. And that means it’s also time for the Annual Body Image Battle a huge percentage of women wage with themselves when it comes to putting on a swimsuit.
Despite social discourse moving more and more toward body positivity and embracing ourselves no matter our size, a whole lot of us still feel self-conscious about our bodies. And nothing amplifies that self-consciousness like putting on a skin-tight swimsuit that exposes most of our skin suit to the world. Unless we are literally bikini models—and sometimes even if we are—standing in front of a mirror in a swimsuit prompts a million mental messages to kick in, with phrases like “muffin top,” “saddlebags,” “love handles,” and “cottage cheese thighs,” bouncing around like ping pong balls in our brain.
We are critical of our bodies partly because we compare ourselves to airbrushed bikini models—whether we want to or not—and partly because we fear the criticism and cruelty of other people. The former is something we each have to work through for ourselves, but a new video from vlogger Tiffany Jenkins perfectly illustrates why the criticisms of others shouldn’t prevent us from putting on the suit and heading to the beach.
It’s not just because we shouldn’t listen to cruelty. It’s because there is no one who isn’t subject to judgment and criticism.
Jenkins wrote: “To all my beautiful friends: Please watch this, it’s important. These are ACTUAL comments from the photos. The message here is clear. Effpeoplesopinionsofyou.”
In her video, Jenkins shared real photos of real people in swimsuits that she saw on social media, along with the real comments people have left on those photos. Each of the photos shows a woman of a different size and shape, from extra endowed to basically average, including a couple of famous women who have been seen as sex symbols. And you know what? The comments are cruel on every single one of them.
So then Jenkins says, “It’s the internet. Apparently, everyone is too fat for people of the internet. Let me just put up a picture of a thin bikini model, and then everybody will be happy and have no complaints.”
HA. No. Even the super tanned, thin woman in a little bikini had people ridiculing her body in the comments.
Jenkins summed up the lesson perfectly. “Friends, people are always going to find something negative to say. So put on that damn bathing suit and get out in the sun and live your best life. Eff everybody.”
Right on, Tiffany. Eff everybody who feels the need to make any judgment whatsoever about somebody’s body. Literally every single human body is different, and the idea that only people with some kind of subjectively “perfect” body get to feel comfortable in a swimsuit is utterly ridiculous. Especially when even those with bikini model bodies still get criticized. Sure, they probably also get more compliments than others, but who flippin’ cares. The beach isn’t supposed to be a beauty pageant; it’s a place to enjoy the sun and sand and sparkling water.
The number of people who could put on a swimsuit and have no one find something to criticize is zero, so we have got to stop looking for validation from others to determine whether or not we should go out in a swimsuit and enjoy ourselves. It’s not always that simple. It’s hard to embrace the bodies we’re in when we have so many messages telling us they’re not good enough, but the reality is this: We get one life here. We can spend it fretting over specific details of our bodies or we can spend it basking in the warm sun, splashing in the cool water, and flipping a mental middle finger to anyone who tries to steal that joy from us.
Our bodies are worthy of fun and joy, no matter their size or shape. No amount of social media b.s. can change that.
When almost all of the nation’s schoolchildren were forced to embark upon remote learning, everyone struggled to stay afloat: families, students, and teachers. Despite the heroic efforts of educators and families, remote learning presented significant challenges for students, particularly those of lower socioeconomic status.
It’s not yet clear the significant learning challenges all students faced last year and the resulting impact as many students return to in person learning this Fall. Preliminary data suggests significant learning loss – particularly among children of color.
The ability to read and write is the foundation upon which an education is built, and research shows students of color and those in high-poverty communities fell even further behind during remote learning than their peers. For example, the sudden shift to remote schooling in Spring 2020 set White students back by 1-3 months in math, while students of color lost 3-5 months of learning.
This systemic inequity that has existed in the American education system for decades has disproportionately left students of color behind, and the COVID-19 school closures multiplied this challenge, impacting a generation of already at-risk youth. Disparities in access to computers, home internet connections, and direct instruction from teachers, all have played a role in this crisis since the start of the pandemic. Even prior to the pandemic, 65% of children in the U.S. were not reading at the proficient level, and 2/3 of U.S. children living in poverty don’t have a children’s book in their home.
Macy’s is a longtime partner of Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization; this year, they’re taking action to address this overwhelming problem via back-to-school shopping. Every time you shop at Macy’s in August, round up your in-store purchase to the nearest dollar up to 99 cents or donate online to help support children’s literacy. Every $4 donated purchases one book, and one hundred percent of donations go directly to literacy programs for local children.
Photo courtesy of Macy’s
Over the past 18 years, Macy’s partnership with Reading Is Fundamental has provided more than 14 million books and thousands of supplemental reading resources to kids across the country. Your support will have a direct impact on communities across the country by funding critical literacy needs in communities that have the greatest need.
“At Robert Head Start & Early Head Start, we ordered our books from [Reading Is Fundamental] last school year and were able to distribute them to the children during a time when children really needed extra support at home while school was often closed for weeks at a time due to COVID-19. It was really wonderful to watch the children select their own book from the rich variety.
“As staff, we enjoyed seeing the children’s eyes light up as they would select the book they really wanted. It also helped us to learn about their likes and in some ways their dislikes. We were able to provide several opportunities throughout the school year in which the children were given the opportunity to select a book as we actually had enough for each child to receive three books. The grant supported by Macy’s not only helped us during a time of need when the children were spending so few days in an actual classroom, it provided the children with the beginning of their own home library,” said Brenda Laurent, the Center Manager at Regina Coeli Child Development Center in Robert, LA.
Supporting students who struggled with and fell behind due to the negative learning impacts of the pandemic will require all of us to pull together. Improved literacy not only benefits today’s children, but future generations shaping the trajectory of our country.
This article first appeared on 9.8.17.
With cold season upon us, there’s no better time to learn a couple of awesome and easy tricks that will clear up the dreaded and annoying stuffy nose. Prevention magazine created a short video showing two easy ways to get you breathing free again no matter how stuffed up you might be.
Both tricks take less than two minutes and are certainly worth trying out when it feels like that runny nose might never go away.