TIME women

Why I Don’t Want to Have Children

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I’ve spent years carefully crafting the most amazing life I can

What I want is to be happy.

I’m often told that I’d make a good mother. Depending on my relationship with the person making this wildly incorrect statement, I have one of two reactions: either a small, insincere smile and a “mmmm” response that does not invite further discussion or a hearty laugh followed by a firm “No.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love kids. They’re hilarious, they’re adorable, and I (mostly) enjoy spending time with them. But without a doubt, I do not want them. And here’s why.

I don’t want to worry about diaper rash and “tummy time” and I don’t want to know what colic is.

I don’t want to put a kid on a kindergarten waiting list and I don’t want to decide between public and private education. I don’t want to coordinate basketball practice drop-off with ballet lessons pick-up, I don’t want to help with trigonometry and darling, I will not deal with your teenage angst because you best believe I invented that. I’d rather have bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails than try to figure out how to pay for my child’s college while I still owe roughly twelve kajillion dollars for my own degree. I’ve more than once done something “just to tell the grandkids about it,” but I never actually planned on there being any grandkids.

It amuses me to tell people I don’t want children because no one ever quite knows how to respond. I’ve gotten “Well, when you meet the right guy, you’ll change your mind,” which is basically suggesting I’m incapable of making decisions regarding my own life without consulting a nameless, faceless FutureMan and is, by the way, astonishingly offensive. Others immediately ask what I do for a living, as though my employer holds the key to my womb and has locked it up until I retire. I don’t really consider myself a career-minded kind of girl; I’ve always worked to live, not lived to work.

Two mothers have actually said to me, “I didn’t know what love was before having a baby. You should reconsider.” I’m happy they’re happy now but “not knowing love before kids” is one of the most acutely sad things I’ve ever heard. Occasionally, I get a hearty “yeah!” from like-minded women, some of whom will eventually become mothers and some of whom will not. I appreciate the support.

But at this point, it doesn’t matter how much anyone tries to change my mind because the decision’s been made — permanently.

Last October, I spent a wonderful morning with my doctor, during which he performed a tubal ligation on me.

Yep, I got my tubes tied at 28.

I admit that once my doctor agreed to perform the surgery, I had a moment of panic. It immediately crossed my mind that maybe everyone was right and I was wrong and I would wake up at 30 and want a baby more than anything in the world or that maybe my “hard pass” on kids was a rebellion against expectations simply for the sake of a rebellion.

Maybe I would love the complete upheaval of my priorities and schedule and life in general. Shortly after these hysterical thoughts raced through my mind, though, I regained my sanity. I picked a date for the surgery. Done. Tubes tied.

Here’s the thing: I’ve spent years carefully crafting the most amazing life I can.

I’m surrounded by people I love very much, who love me in return. I’m well-educated and well-traveled. I have endless time to learn about things that interest me and to see wonderful things and to meet the greatest people on earth. I leave piles of library books all over my bedroom and plan fabulous trips all over the world. I stay up until 6 a.m. watching Sons of Anarchy because I know no small person is relying on me to feed them in a few short hours. I occasionally eat chips and salsa for breakfast and drink beer for dinner and feel no guilt that I’m teaching anyone horrific eating habits. I spend my days finding my bliss, like all the inspirational posters beg of me.

All this being said, I can’t wait to be an auntie. Whenever my friends start popping out kids, I’ll be there with inappropriately loud and expensive presents. I’ll be the aunt who slips them a vodka martini on their 16th birthday and I’ll rant and rail with the best of them whenever they feel slighted by other kids.

And when I’m off for six months teaching scuba in Venezuela, I promise to send lovely postcards.

I get the reasons people want kids. I do. I’m not such a heartless, selfish monster that I’m incapable of understanding the appeal of a small person who loves you unconditionally and relies on you to guide them safely through a scary world. Parents are brave and strong and incredible people. But so are astronauts and brain surgeons and I don’t want to be those things, either.

What I want is to be happy.

And I’m doing that. I’m there, I’m living that dream. I’m happiest not being a mom, but hey… Call me if you need a babysitter. I’m great in a pinch.

This article originally appeared on YourTango.

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Read next: What I Learned Living in a Tiny House With Two Children

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Courts

Activists Push Court to Seek Charges in Tamir Rice Shooting

Cleveland Police Shooting tamir rice
Tony Dejak—AP A person holds up a sign for justice for Tamir Rice during a news conference, Dec. 8, 2014, in Cleveland.

The 12-year-old was fatally shot by two officers on Nov. 22

(CLEVELAND) — A group of civil rights leaders and activists, impatient with the pace of justice, plan to submit affidavits Tuesday that ask a judge to decide if there’s probable cause to charge two white Cleveland police officers in the fatal shooting of a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun.

If a judge agrees, members of the group said, a city prosecutor would be responsible for filing charges stemming from the death of Tamir Rice outside a recreation center on Nov. 22. Those behind the effort say people outside of law enforcement are charged in court every day based on probable cause determinations that a crime has occurred.

“The boy was killed over six months ago,” said Edward Little, who described himself as criminal justice consultant. “We really need the court to move one way or another.”

Little and a civil rights attorney said there is a state statute and case law that permit ordinary citizens to ask for charges to be filed when they have knowledge or possess evidence that a crime has occurred. Ohio law says a private citizen can file an affidavit with a clerk of courts that asks a judge to determine if a prosecutor should file a criminal complaint. The venue in this instance is Cleveland Municipal Court.

“We’re saying there’s enough probable cause to charge them with a crime that we’ve identified,” said civil rights attorney and NAACP official Michael Nelson.

Little and Nelson say the evidence that shows a crime occurred is footage from a surveillance camera that shows rookie Cleveland patrolman Timothy Loehmann shooting Tamir within two seconds of a police cruiser skidding to a stop near the boy outside a city recreation center. Tamir had an airsoft-type gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets tucked in the waistband of his pants.

Nelson said charges could range from aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, to negligent homicide, a first-degree misdemeanor.

“We had a two-second shooting involving a young man who had broken no laws,” he said. “You don’t have to look at forensics. You don’t have to interview a significant group of witnesses.”

Cleveland officials asked the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department in January to investigate the shooting. The sheriff said last week the investigative file had been given to the county prosecutor. A spokesman for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement Tuesday that said the investigation isn’t finished and that evidence and expert analysis will be presented to a grand jury when the probe is completed.

If the group pushing for criminal charges succeeds with its affidavits and the officers are charged with felonies, the case would still have to go through the county prosecutor’s office for a grand jury presentation.

A city prosecutor in Baltimore recently charged six city police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury a week after he was arrested. The case has not yet gone to a grand jury.

TIME society

Captain America Dons a Turban

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Armed with a beard, a shield, and a sense of humor, I learned why the U.S. needs new superheroes

I was born in our nation’s capital in the early 1970s – but sometimes when people see me in my turban, they think of conflicts in faraway lands, terrorism here at home, Hollywood caricatures, and sensationalized news coverage.

Donning the costume of a superhero—complete with unitard and shield, in addition to the turban of my Sikh faith—changed all that. Suddenly, there was no question that I was American.

Like any good comic book, there’s an origin story. One that covers moving thousands of miles away from home after high school, trying to make my superpower invisibility, and fending off a constant barrage of hate speech.

Sikhs believe in the innate equality of all, striving to merge with energy that traverses every speck of the universe. Fighting against injustice and practicing the art of compassion are part of our spiritual practice.

As a physical manifestation of this journey, Sikhs must don long, unshorn hair as a natural extension of the human form. This was how I grew up experiencing my faith, though otherwise I had been brought up fairly secularly. (Our Sunday ritual was a trip to the butcher to buy fresh meat, rather than a temple visit.)

I first experienced hatred directed at me because of my religion in India, where I spent much of my childhood after my parents moved the family back to their country of origin in 1975. Following the assassination of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 by her two Sikh bodyguards, Sikhs were hunted down on the streets of many Indian cities.

We were fortunate to survive the fury of an angry mob that surrounded the apartment building where my family lived in New Delhi. But many Sikh men and boys would not be so lucky. Many were burned alive by having gasoline poured over them and lit on fire across the Indian capital and other cities.

When I graduated from high school, I moved back to the United States, hoping for a calmer transition to adulthood in Los Angeles. However, I began to encounter hatred of a different variety: offensive calls of “genie,” “clown,” and “raghead,” and laughter at my appearance.

In college, I felt overwhelmed at being stereotyped so much that, by sophomore year, I decided to take off my turban and clip my long hair, which had not been cut since I was born. After a short trip to the barber, all eyes were suddenly off me. I had magically transformed and did not stand out anymore.

I wouldn’t don a turban again for almost 10 years. First, I would fall in love with the words of Asimov, Plato, Nietzsche, Abbott, and Freud. I would explore meditation, Buddhism, and Taoism. Finally, I came back around to the Sikh faith through experiences with the religion’s music.

In August 2001, I put my Sikh turban back on. Only a month later, the horrific Sept. 11 attacks happened. As we watched the TV, shocked and horrified on that terrible day, I remember a coworker looking at me with bloodshot eyes, on the verge of tears, as if I was somehow responsible for these attacks. That was a prelude to a new normal in America that would look at my turbaned and bearded countenance as the ultimate “other” in our midst. The most common racist insult hurled my way ever since has been “Osama,” even after bin Laden was killed.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, after people who look like me were the victims of hate crimes by bigots across the United States, a piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore would change the course of my life. Fiore’s animated cartoon entitled “Find the Terrorist” prompted users to click on the faces of people of all races and countries of origin as a way to point out our own witch-hunting tendencies and prejudices.

The cartoon so powerfully captured my identity and feelings that it inspired me to create my own cartoons featuring Sikh protagonists. In late 2002, my website Sikhtoons.com was born—and it has since provided a way to channel all my whims, frustrations, and inspirations, in cartoon form.

As my website gained attention, I began traveling across the U.S. to showcase my work and host cartoon workshops, mostly at Sikh gatherings and events. In 2011, in preparation for my first trip to the New York Comic Con, I drew a bearded Captain America wearing a turban, inspired by my experience on the streets of America and the release of the Captain America movie that summer. With a flash, reality and fiction collided to present this vision in my imagination.

A photojournalist named Fiona Aboud saw the drawing at the convention and suggested that I come back next year actually dressed as Captain America myself. I swiftly responded, “No.” I had never worn a costume, ever, and being teased my whole life for my skinny frame had further taught me to avoid drawing attention to myself.

Almost a year later, the massacre of six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 at the hands of a white supremacist prompted me to pen a few cartoons and an op-ed in the Seattle Times, making the case for a new American superhero who doesn’t take on Nazis, mad scientists, or communists, but rather takes down the real evil-doers in our society: those who commit hate crimes.

More than ever, we need a hero to fight intolerance and suspicion of people who are not like us, forces that are ripping our country apart. Fiona emailed me after reading the piece and made a second request for me to dress up as Captain America. This time I agreed to her request for a photo shoot on the streets of New York City.

The shoot took place on a sunny summer day in 2013. It was one of the most amazing days of my life. Hundreds of onlookers snapped pictures of me and with me; police officers posed with me in photos for their kids; strangers hugged me; and I even got roped into participating in a wedding party (complete with a photo-op with the bride and groom).

An essay I wrote about the experience on Salon.com, which had six photos from Fiona’s shoot, went viral, gathering over 50,000 likes on Facebook. The images in the article keep finding a home to this day, on blogs and websites around the globe.

I have now traversed the country in my spandex uniform (later upgraded to the one featured in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier), from New York to Los Angeles, Kansas to Mississippi. My trips have taken me to universities, museums—even the backstreets of NYC with a late night comedy crew – to see corners of America I never thought I’d be invited to.

I have received messages of support from Americans in every walk of life: police officers, veterans, active service members, teachers, conservatives, liberals, men, women, black, white, Asian. The embrace of fellow Americans re-enforced my belief that we have much more in common than our eyes lead us to believe, that we all want to believe in a superhero that embodies the goodness of America, even if that superhero doesn’t resemble the clean-cut Chris Evans. And we can all have a good laugh about what I look like in a unitard.

Along the way, I have learned how much my own insecurity about my body keeps me from taking risks, and experiencing life’s many surprises.

I know comic superheroes are not real. In the American tradition, they have long been an extension of the imagination of many young immigrants. Young Jewish Americans of Eastern European descent, who survived the Depression era and battled forces of anti-Semitism, wound up creating one of the most iconic of superheroes—the Man of Steel, Superman.

Superheroes are always in our midst, in a sense. It turns out that just the uniform of a fictional character from the early 1940s, Captain America, created to fight with Axis powers in World War II, does possess a real superpower: It opens doors to new conversations and new visions of what our country can look like as its best self.

Vishavjit Singh is leading a double life. By day, he is a software analyst. By night (and on weekends), he creates cartoons that can be consumed at Sikhtoons.com. He can be reached at @sikhtoons and vsingh@sikhtoons.com. He wrote this for What It Means to Be American a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

Here’s a New Way to Show Your Support for Caitlyn Jenner

Start by finding a Diet Coke bottle with the name Bruce on it

You know how you can occasionally find Coke bottles with your name on them? Well, somebody happened to find a bottle with the name Bruce and pulled off some topical humor:

Yes. Just yes.

A photo posted by thefatjewish (@thefatjewish) on

This is, of course, a nod to Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce, who recently came out as transgender, revealing her new name and image on the cover of Vanity Fair.

According to Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke site, there are already bottles with the name Caitlyn out there — but we still appreciate the ingenuity here.

TIME society

Who Is the Freelance Economy Hurting?

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The freelance economy is troubling given the unbending and unforgiving realities of today’s economic environment

These days, it’s all about the freelance economy—or what many experts envision as the new economic normal. As the economy makes its bland recovery, flexible (no-benefits and low-cost) freelance (a.k.a. “shared,” a.ka. “contingency”) work is all the rage.

But who benefits from this supposed freelance boom? This growth of contract employees, such as the ride-sharing and taxi-obliterating Uber, along with its competitor and policy partner-in-sector Lyft, has already sparked some good old-fashioned turf wars over innovation. And while the fever-pitched combat between traditional taxis and ride-share services might seem like just another nose-breaking scrap between rivals in a market space, there’s even more to it than that. The outcome promises to radically and forever reshape what it means to be a worker.

The Freelancers Union excitedly sneezed out its “National Survey of the New Workforce” last September, boasting about the 53 million workers disrupting the typical economic model. Gone are the days when like Ward Cleaver strolls through the front door after a 9-to-5 white collar grind. First add June to that equation—she’s working, too, while the Beav and Wally are left latch-keyed to their own smartphone-fueled devices because their parents’ freelance work comes without the benefit of regular hours. The generational impact of the “freelance revolution” doesn’t stop at the nuclear family—imagine Millennials hunched over laptops in the local Starbucks or overwhelmed Gen-X’ing parents hustling for both paycheck and flexibility.

Let the numbers tell it, and it’s all good—advantage innovators. Popular freelance economy pioneers like Uber enjoy eye-popping valuations of $40 billion or more, thereby validating an emerging freelance ideology. Freelancers, according to the Freelance Union, are also contributing more than $700 billion of productivity to our $14 trillion economy, which is solid and respectable. As the economy rapidly reconfigures and technology pushes us further into automation, the segment of the workforce that’s contracted will also rise from today’s 34 percent to an astonishing 50 percent by 2020. Hence, the trend shows no sign of reversing, but rather more signs of metastasizing. It’s reasonable to assume that, in our collective lifetimes, freelance or contractual work will be the fundamental core of our global labor market. There will be way more freelancers than full-time permanents. A world of full-timers and full-time-nots looms just over the horizon—and for some workers, it’s already here.

Not only does that make the Affordable Care Act convenient in terms of its timing, but also rather prescient. Permanent non-freelance jobs won’t be an economic staple in 10 years. Instead, they’ll be something of a highly-prized and rather rare privilege.

From a white-collar perspective, freelancing seems like an efficient fit. Philosophically, it appears to thrive off the notion of high-octane entrepreneurship, an attractive social construct where we control our own agency.

But the freelance economy is troubling given the unbending and unforgiving realities of today’s economic environment. Among traditionally underserved populations, who face income inequality, stagnant wages, and underemployment, disrupting tech enthusiasts prompt more anxious questions than giddy answers. A ballooning freelance workforce means a permanent state of non-permanent wages, adding more uncertainty to an economic environment saddled by stuck income. As Pew found recently, “the average wage peaked more than 40 years ago: The $4.03-an-hour rate recorded in January 1973 has the same purchasing power as $22.41 would today.” While poverty is at 15 percent, economic inequality in the United States is obscene, a place where the top 20 percent own 84 percent of … well … everything.

Anecdotally and statistically, we see persistent public anxiety about the economy. A POLITICO poll discovered 64 percent of respondents feeling as if the country was “out of control” and only 36 percent believing it’s in a “good position to meet its economic and national security challenges.” When a subsequent POLITICO story highlighting economic concerns as a central issue in the upcoming elections dropped, it was peppered with quotes from average voters expressing “raw” concerns about matters such as “outsourcing” and “job growth.”

The question of who benefits becomes more pressing with each passing year the freelance economy grows. Interestingly enough, the decline of purchasing power since 1973 seems to mirror the upward trend of the “contingent” economy during that same period. And, along with the recession, it also means—eventually—that large segments of the population are getting left behind or will remain behind. Already, as Prospect’s Virginia Durivage pointed out some time ago, “most contingent workers are women and minorities clustered in low-wage jobs with no benefits or opportunities for advancement.”

Official unemployment rates released each month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics make recovery feel as fresh as a detergent commercial, but these reports slickly ignore other indicators such as underemployment or diminished labor force participation rates that actually show joblessness is much higher than we think. One factor, perhaps, could be a rising freelance mindset as fed-up workers tap out of traditional models in a bid to make it on their own.

Another obvious factor is a society still largely discriminating on the basis of race and perceived status, a condition for which the freelance economy may have no solution – especially if, as USA Today showed in a recent analysis, “top universities turn out black and Hispanic computer science and computer engineering graduates at twice the rate that leading technology companies hire them.” Would embracing a dominant freelance economy make that situation worse? It’s unclear at the moment. What we can see, for example, is that freelance pioneers like Uber are disrupting taxi industries largely populated by drivers of color: while 32 percent of tax drivers are black, less than 20 percent of Uber drivers are the same compared to more than 40 percent who are white. Asian and Latino Uber driver rates are, however, nearly identical to their proportions as taxi drivers, even while still low (17 percent each, respectively) when compared to white Uber drivers.

That probably doesn’t hint at any pattern of hiring discrimination on that part of Uber when it clears and selects contracted drivers. But, what is clear is that companies reliant on outsourcing as their primary operational model have more incentive to circumvent (or altogether neglect) worker rights than when industries were more reliant on permanent positions.

Charles D. Ellison is a veteran political strategist and Contributing Editor for The Root. This piece was originally published in New America’s digital magazine, The Weekly Wonk. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox each Thursday here, and follow @New America on Twitter.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME world affairs

How FIFA’s Sepp Blatter May Have Outmaneuvered Everyone

Read his "resignation" letter carefully. It isn't what you think

And so Sepp Blatter has defied all expectations and announced his intention to step aside from the presidency of FIFA after 17 years at the helm. Despite numerous scandals afflicting the organisation he ran, he won four successive elections. Finally, it seems that the long arm of American law has finally reached close enough to FIFA’s heart to force its leader to step down.

FIFA has been part of Blatter’s life for 40 years. He was headhunted by Horst Dassler, the CEO of German sportswear firm Adidas, and learned his trade at Adidas’ headquarters in Landersheim. He then became a technical director in 1975 before assuming the role of Secretary General in 1981. He finally ousted his mentor, João Havelange, in 1998, to become president.

Significantly, despite every news organisation stating that he had resigned, he did not use the word in his brief press conference. The masterful politician remained in control until the end, and left us not entirely certain if it is indeed the end.

The key passage in Blatter’s announcement stated:

I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.

Until we hear differently – and this is a fluid situation – he is still at FIFA. More importantly, he is setting the agenda.

Role reversal

In other words, we may have just witnessed a piece of skill and mastery to remind us of Argentina hero Leo Messi. While his opponents are busy fighting over who will succeed him, it appears he will be setting the agenda for when they finally replace him, and the seeds were in his announcement.

The master tactician may have outmanoeuvred everyone. Within his brief announcement there are statements that should cause concern. He suggested that the executive committee must be reduced in size and its members “should be elected through the FIFA Congress”.

This looks like a clever ploy to remove the additional members that are there for historical reasons. Chief amongst these will the anachronistic position for the home countries such as England, held due to their position as the inventors of the modern game.

Blatter continued his brief manifesto for change by saying that: “The integrity checks for all executive committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations.” This is another clever piece of politics.

By centralising the checks within FIFA, he is accumulating more power for the organisation – at the expense of the regional confederations. This can be seen as a swipe at UEFA, who have attempted to act as a morality check on Blatter and his cabal. Blatter was angry that his former supporter, UEFA’s president Michel Platini, had threatened to boycott the World Cup

Blatter is ruthless. When his relationship with his former Secretary General Michel Zen-Ruffinen soured, he established a separate administration within FIFA to ostracise him, and then had him removed. He said to his former supporter Mohamed Bin Hammam that he would set a limit for two terms for presidents to allow the Qatari to stand. When Bin Hammam did stand against him, Blatter brought down the full weight of the FIFA ethics committee onto his head.

Securing the future

Now Blatter is suggesting term limits for the position of president and executive committee roles. By bringing them in now, he neuters whoever replaces him. Despite saying that he has been blocked in the past, he has been the one in control. And he is not relinquishing it yet.

Football fans should not assume that this is the last we will see of Blatter. It is worth noting that Article 19 of the FIFA statutes explicitly states:

The Congress may bestow the title of honorary president, honorary vice- president or honorary member upon any former member of the Executive Committee for meritorious service to football.

After successfully defending his presidency only five days ago, would anyone be surprised if he was voted into an honorary role? His predecessor João Havelange was elected honorary president despite allegations of corruption.

And these positions still attract the highly generous FIFA expenses package. Blatter is a wily old fox. One does not remain atop the FIFA pyramid for so long without knowing how to play politics. Even when the world thinks he has stepped down, it may just be that he has done anything but.

This article originally appeared on The Conversation.

Read next: Former FIFA Executive Admits to World Cup Bribes

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The Conversation

TIME society

This Is What the Ideal Woman Looked Like in the 1930s

She was 12 in. around the neck, 6 in. around the wrist and 19.5 in. around the thigh

The “ideal” body type has long been a topic of fascination. Whether we’re focusing on how those standards of beauty have changed over time, how clothing sizes have evolved or what dress size Marilyn Monroe really wore, it’s clear that the subject is less superficial than it may seem. Conversations about beauty are often conversations about the impacts these changing ideals have on the body images of women and girls.

Twenty years before Monroe stood over a subway grate in a billowing white halter dress, LIFE Magazine described the ideal figure American women hoped to attain. The year was 1938, and the model, 20-year-old June Cox, stood 5 ft. 6 3/4 in. and weighed 124 lbs., though life insurance statistics, the magazine said, suggested she should weigh 135 lbs.

The magazine explained that American women’s increasing involvement in sports in recent years had made them taller and flatter, and as such, “the boyish form became the vogue.” But by the late ’30s, romantic-influenced clothing had returned to fashion, and a “soft feminine figure” was replacing the athletic form as the look du jour:

The perfect 1938 figure must have curves but it differs from the perfect figure of past decades in relationship of curves to straight lines. In the 1890’s women had full bosoms, round hips. In actual measurements they were probably no rounder than Miss Cox but they seemed so because they were shorter, tightened their waists into an hour-glass effect … Now, though, the ideal figure must have a round, high bosom, a slim but not wasp-like waist, and gently rounded hips.

When it comes to issues of body image today, many blame the airbrushing of already-thin models for generating an unhealthy self-image among many women. True as this may be, women were receiving messages about how they should look long before the first love handles were magically eliminated in Photoshop.

1938 Ideal Figure LIFE magazine
Alfred Eisenstaedt—LIFE Magazine
TIME society

Caring Cop Who Told Teen His Parents Had Died Then Went to His Graduation

"I had to be the bearer of bad news for him, and I felt that was just the right thing to do"

Telling a teenager that he’d just lost both his parents in an traffic collision may have been one of the hardest days of Eric Ellison’s life — but he knew it was much harder for that teenager, Kazzie Portie. So he went the extra mile by promising to attend the 18-year-old’s high school graduation in lieu of his parents.

Portie’s mother and father were killed by a drunk driver while riding on their motorcycle last month. Officer Ellison was assigned to share the bad news with next of kin, and he found Portie at home alone, according to BuzzFeed News. When Portie expressed how upset he was that his parents would miss his high school graduation, just a week away, Ellison reportedly said, “Your mom and dad will have front-row seats looking down from heaven, and I’ll stand in their place. I’ve got your back.”

He made good on that promise, and embraced Portie after he’d received his diploma. Portie told BuzzFeed he appreciated that Ellison “actually showed a genuine care for me and my family’s situation instead of us just being another ‘case.’”

[BuzzFeed News]

TIME society

Read a Mother’s Note to a Man Who Facebook-Shamed Her for Breastfeeding in Public

Conner Kendall was at a T.G.I. Friday's in Indiana when the man took the photo

One young mother is fighting back after a stranger criticized her for breastfeeding her child in public on Facebook.

According to mom Conner Kendall, a male stranger snapped a photo of her breastfeeding her young son at a T.G.I. Friday’s in Terre Haute, Indiana. The picture, which was taken without her knowledge, was then uploaded on Facebook on Instagram where the unidentified man asked mothers to weigh in on the appropriateness of breastfeeding in public.

“I went [sic] to know if this is appropriate or inappropriate as I’m trying to eat my Fridays, there are little kids around,” the man wrote along with the picture, according to a screenshot shared by Kendall. “I understand feeding in public but could you at least cover your boob up?”

“He snapped the photo and then put it up on social media (Facebook and Instagram), many of the comments that followed were nothing less than harassing and shameful to, not only me, but every past, present, and future nursing mother,” Kendall wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

“I was really very hurt by this act, because I was in no way bothering him, so what gave him the right to shame me?”

Kendall decided to contact the stranger with a strongly worded letter, standing up for her right to breastfeed in public. She shared her letter on Facebook as well.

“You’ve shown your true colors to many and you’ve exposed others who are likewise simpleminded,” she wrote. “While you meant to come across as exposing a violation of your rights and the rights of others, you fell into your own hypocrisy. You violated the rights of not only me, but my child. Did you know it is illegal to share the pictures of minors without the expressed permission of their legal guardian? I get that you felt uncomfortable looking at my breasts. Here is a novel idea, don’t look at them.”

“I am also intelligent, I know all the facts about breastfeeding and I know what I am doing is best for my child,” Kendall continued. “I chose to do it not only because it’s rewarding, but because it is what is best for them. I am resolved, not only in my choice to breastfeed my child, but to do it whenever and wherever I want.

“You have given me a platform and a drive to advocate breastfeeding ferociously. You’ve inspired me into a call of action. Rest assured, there will be action. Not only by me, the one you violated, but others like me who feel you violated them and their rights. Those that you are degrading by shaming the act of feeding their child. How I pity those who would actually belittle a mother for taking care of her child.

According to Kendall, the man responded with what she called an “insincere apology.”

“It is not the fact that the picture was taken, or even that it was put on social media that bothers me. If he wanted a picture he should have just asked, I would have gladly smiled,” Kendall continued. “It is the fact that it was done so in a way that aimed at shaming my child and I, as well as every other nursing mother, for taking care of my baby.”

She ended her Facebook post with a special message, “ALL MOMMIES SHOULD BE ABLE TO FEED THEIR BABIES WHENEVER, WHEREVER, AND HOWEVER THEY CHOOSE!”

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME society

Imagine a World Where Men Have Periods

This spoof puts the "men" in "menstruation"

A parody produced by the clean water charity WaterAid imagines how men would deal with menstruation. The hypothetical hilarity? These men take to their periods like professional athletes getting amped about a big game. By reimagining menstruation as a masculine trait, the clip forces everyone—men and women—to consider the necessity and impact of health.

This spoof is part of the charity’s “If Men Had Periods” campaign, which aims to increase awareness about women who don’t have access to toilets during their cycle.

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