Meet one of our heroes, Matt Diaz. Matt has been in the media for a YouTube video he posted of himself, along with other posts on his Tumblr page and other social media outlets. In the video he talks about his incredible weight loss and the effects on his body. He has become a very active voice in the self love and anti body shaming movement, and we couldn’t be happier to have come in contact with him. Since then, we have been speaking with Matt a bit more, and requested a few words from him to share with you all. He shares his story, journey in weight loss, and where he stands today. Also a few jokes along the way, because you can’t get through life without a little bit of humor!
His words are truly inspiring and beautiful to us at Dance Free Movement, and we know you will all feel the same.
"Being different in a world that thrives on putting people into clearly defined boxes is always difficult. It doesn't matter if it's gender, sexuality or ethnicity, those differences are always made apparent and in many cases are used to make us feel insecure about who we are and where we came from. As a result, everyone trying to find themselves endures a great struggle.
For me, that struggle was weight.
I started to put on weight at a fairly young age and it just snowballed over time. By the age of 16, I weighed close to 500 pounds as a result of a sedentary lifestyle and a constant need to see if the new Ben & Jerry's flavors were delicious. (Pro tip: They're always delicious. Those people are geniuses.) After joining a study at the NYU Medical Center to see how the Lap Band would affect people under the age of 18, I committed to living a better life; not just to lose the weight and eat healthier, but to try and be a more social and healthier human being. After six years, I've lost nearly 270 pounds and I've never felt better.
However, there was a caveat. When you lose more than half your body weight, you're left with quite a bit of excess skin; more than any amount of weight lifting or "all natural body wraps" can possibly fix.
Though I'd accepted the fact that this was just something I'd have to live with, I was still terrified to have anyone see. I kept it hidden from basically everyone. But after I began to write about self-love and body positivity on my Tumblr and garnered a lot of attention, I felt that it was wrong to keep my excess skin hidden away from people while telling them to be proud of themselves. Practice what you preach, right? So on Monday, March 16th, I uploaded a video to my Tumblr where I showed my excess skin and talked about how I refused to hate my body, because it is mine and it is beautiful.
In the weeks since, articles and videos about me have been viewed over 50 million times, total. A GoFundMe page was started in order to donate to the cost of the surgery to remove the excess skin, and it met it's goal in 5 hours and tripled it's goal in the following 6 days. Thousands of messages were sent to me through Facebook, Tumblr and YouTube about how I was brave and strong and how so many have gone through struggles similar to mine. People began to stop me on the street on a daily basis and shake my hand for speaking up in the video. The transgender community, women who've experienced childbirth, these are just two of the many different groups who've said they've felt exactly what I did.
I was at my most vulnerable on that day, and I've never felt more confident and beautiful since.
Bullying, meanness and negativity are a poison. They exist only to make people feel bad about who they are and what they love, in order to take the color out of the gorgeous works of art that we all are. If I'd felt accepted and welcomed by my peers when I began to gain weight, I might have stayed active and social and dropped it naturally. Instead, I was shamed and mocked and pushed into a more secluded and sedentary lifestyle. I never want anyone to feel that way again. Bullying, meanness, negativity, all they do is exacerbate problems and add fuel to a fire of self-doubt. How to we snuff out that fire?
Love. Support. Kindness.
Every single person deserves to feel beautiful, because they are. There is no "standard of beauty" because the beautiful come in all shapes and sizes. There is no "standard for beauty" because there is nothing standard about people. We're wild, wonderful and unpredictable. The goal is not "we are all the same!" The goal is "we are all different, and that is incredible."
I want you to dance in your own skin and to fall in love with it. And I don't the awkward "I guess I'll dance but I'm not really moving" thing you do at your cousin's sweet 16. I want you to let the music flow through every beautiful cell in your body until you don't know where you end and the vibrations begin. I want you to put your heart in it and dazzle us, because I know you can. You're strong, you're gorgeous, and you're doing great.
Love every bit of who you are, and the world will too.
You can find me on MyAnnoyances.Tumblr.com, and @MyAnnoyances on basically every other social media site.
Now go do something wonderful."
Be sure to go check out all of his social media accounts for more from Matt!