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#410: The Fat Girl Allegory
Four great articles about the body + an invitation to join our discussion this month
Welcome, new subscribers, and welcome back, loyal readers! I’m happy you’re here.
This week’s issue includes four great pieces exploring issues that involve the body. I’m excited for you to read the lead article, “The Fat Girl Allegory,” in which writer Andriana Mendoza recounts her coming-of-age as a fat queer Latinx woman. The prose is fresh and electrifying. Also thought provoking (albeit in an entirely different way) is the second article, which explains why nearsightedness has skyrocketed over the past half century, why it’s scary, and what can be done about the problem.
If those topics don’t interest you, scroll down past the pet photo, and you’ll find a pair of well-written (and intense) articles featuring the experiences of girls raising their children after the Dobbs decision made abortion illegal where they live.
This issue may hit hard. As always, I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, or if that’s too public for you, hit reply or email me. Thank you very much for trusting me to bring articles to you.
⭐️ This month’s discussion: Are you concerned about the price of housing in your community? If so, I warmly invite you to this month’s discussion on Sept. 24, 2:00 - 3:30 pm PT on Zoom. We’re going to be reading, annotating, and exploring “A Tale of Paradise, Parking Lots, and My Mother’s Berkeley Backyard,” by Daniel Duane. It’s a great article about the state of housing in the Bay Area, the fear of change, the power of nostalgia, and the writer’s relationship with his mother.
Here’s an intro to the article that I recorded with fellow Article Clubber Melinda. My hope is that it’ll pique your interest. Please take a listen.
I’d be delighted if you joined our discussion. All you need to do is sign up below. If it’s your first time, don’t be shy. I’m certain you’ll find other Article Clubbers kind, thoughtful, and inviting. Plus feel free to ask me questions so you feel comfortable.
Andriana Mendoza — who grew up in Hayward, California — is a writer to watch. Let me get out of the way and get right to some of her words:
I’m ten and sad and fat and conditioned straight out the womb to base my entire value on what fourth grade kids thought of me. And I would’ve bought the kind words if soccer boys were nicer to me in school, if I had a recess boyfriend who sucked on my lips behind the pine tree. I looked too much like Mike Wazowski then; I had that body type: little titties, fat belly, my ass the ghost of almost something. In my fat origin story, I say I was born destined for frog bod, but really it all began with an equal mix of poor people problems and golden arches.
And you really shouldn’t be mean to fat kids because sometimes fat kid moms have two jobs and no mans and think $5 Family Combos sound a lot better than lugging exhausted limbs into tan kitchens to whip up something “balanced.” We ate well, went to sleep with our tummies full, money left over for gas the next day. It was fine really, you live and you learn, look at life like old bread (just pick off the fuzzy bits and keep eating). So I became big and I stayed big, my consistently dainty mother glowing like a woodland goddess next to me, silver-toothed classmates snickering on about Candy’s hot mom.
By Andriana Mendoza • The Audacity • 21 mins
Growing up, I prided myself on my impeccable eyesight, as if I had anything to do with my 20/20 vision. Then in college, my eyes changed. Like billions of people across the globe, I developed nearsightedness (myopia, if you’re feeling fancy). Turns out, it wasn’t just me who found their vision got fuzzy. Over the last 50 years, myopia has become a worldwide epidemic. Up to 90 precent of Chinese teenagers and 96 percent of Korean teenagers have nearsightedness. By 2050, more than half of the world population will need glasses or contacts. Many people will go blind. The culprit? It’s not what you might think. It’s not watching TV too close. It’s not looking at your phone too much. The cause is surprising; the cure makes sense. Taiwan is already doing it. Will the United States follow its lead?
By Amit Kawala • Wired • 17 mins
This one is hard to read. It’s even hard to type this introduction. Ashley (not her real name) lives in Clarksdale, Mississippi. She was raped by a stranger in the yard outside her home. She wasn’t able to get an abortion because the closest provider is located in Chicago, a nine-hour drive away. Besides, her mother would have to take off work, pay for gas, and find a place to stay for a couple nights. “I don’t have the funds for all this,” she said. Now Ashley is a mother. She’s 13 years old and just started seventh grade. Yes, this is a disturbing article. But writer Charlotte Alter is careful to tell Ashley’s story with empathy. Ms. Alter also offers context of the Mississippi Delta, explains the impact of Dobbs, excoriates the local police department, and profiles the doctors who provide care. Ashley mom says, “This situation hurts the most because it was an innocent child doing what children do, playing outside, and it was my child. It still hurts, and is going to always hurt.”
By Charlotte Alter • Time Magazine • 14 mins
Don’t worry: This story is more hopeful than the last. Brooke met Billy at a skate park two years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas. They were both 17 years old. A few months later, Brooke discovered she was pregnant. No way did Brooke feel ready to have a kid, but Texas banned abortions, and the closest clinic was a 13-hour drive away. She gave birth to twin daughters. This article tells the story of how the High family is making things work, day by day. First the positive: They got a place in Tampa, Florida. Billy is a mechanic for the Air Force. The twins take swim lessons and love their bedtime stories. Now the challenges: They fight a lot. Billy likes to play video games and go skating. Sometimes he sits in his car, thinking of leaving Brooke. But they’re in couple’s counseling, still in it, at 19 years old. They’re trying to make things work, for Kendall and Olivia, for their kids.
By Caroline Kitchener • Washington Post • 23 mins
Thank you for reading this week’s issue. Hope you liked it. 😀
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