Opinion Student debt, book bans and beach bods: 6 audio essays read by the authors

(The Washington Post)
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Powerful prose is elevated when authors read their work in their own voices. Below, we bring that enhanced experience to your ears. This collection of audio articles includes essays on student debt, the pressure of “beach body” season, a mother’s struggle to raise a feminist daughter, a banned book on puberty, and the difficulty of talking about a suicide attempt.


Why I’m wearing a bikini this summer

Summer is coming and that means ... bathing suits. Author Leslie Morgan Steiner shares why she’s opting for a bikini — and why she believes everyone should choose the swim costume they feel most comfortable in.

“I’m 56. Like most American women, I’ve grappled with body positivity my whole life,” she writes. “Bikinis — such a frothy, exotic word — always made me feel like a vampire facing a clove of garlic.”

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On student debt, why a lack of compassion?

Columnist Christine Emba asks: “Why can’t we let good things happen to other people?”

“According to recent polling, 64 percent of registered voters favor some kind of student loan forgiveness. Yet still, a whiff of resentment lingers in the air: ‘What about me?’ Some people have already paid off their loans. Others never had any to begin with. Why should they support a policy that wouldn’t benefit them?”

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Loan forgiveness as executive overreach

Columnist Charles Lane weighs in on the potential impact of the president’s beneficence.

“This potential executive overreach is even more troubling than the actual impact of a policy that, on average, would favor better-off Americans at everyone else’s expense, would overstimulate an already inflationary economy and would do nothing to improve future college affordability.”

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What it takes to raise a feminist daughter

“As a feminist, I was good on theory but mediocre in practice,” Post contributing columnist Kate Cohen writes. “I shied from conflict, craved approval and reflexively deferred to male authority. I knew that trying to get thinner to conform to patriarchal beauty standards was a betrayal both of my intrinsic self-worth and of women everywhere, and yet every day, I tried anyway. Every single day.”

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In defense of our banned book on puberty

Lisa Klein and Carrie Leff are the authors of “Celebrate Your Body 2: The Ultimate Puberty Book for Preteen and Teen Girls,” a book that was recently banned from public school libraries in parts of Florida. Why?

“Maybe because we write very honestly about sex and the human body. Biologically, the purpose of sex is reproduction,” Klein and Leff write. “However, widening our definition of sex helps children understand that people have sex for a variety of reasons. Sex can be for pleasure and is a way to show affection — both important parts of our sexual (not to mention mental) health.”

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With a suicide attempt, there’s no script

Guest writer Sonia Weiser says that after she attempted suicide, no one really knew what to say.

“Because despite there being nearly 1.2 million suicide attempts in the United States per year — 25 times the number of actual deaths — it’s a form of trauma that is deeply individual and isolating,” Weiser writes. “Suicide carries an illusion of agency, and when presented in the context of a life otherwise devoid of tragedy, it can be completely incomprehensible.”

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