It’s almost summer, and you know what that means. School is out. The pool is open. The beaches are calling. Your local drive-in movie is open for business. The ice cream truck is circling after dinner, alerting the neighborhood that it’s popsicle season. It’s time to fire up the grill, search for the perfect watermelon or maybe rent a pontoon. Your July 4th barbecue game plan might even be materializing already. If you’re fully vaccinated, you could be making vacation plans. And it’s time for summer clothes.
Whatever summer means to you, there’s one thing that all of us can agree on: It’s going to be HOT outside for the next few months. While we are enjoying the great outdoors, we are going to sweating our rear ends off. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my very favorite part of the warmer months.
As a fat person, I spent many summers dressed in clothes that were too damn hot for the weather because I was so worried about covering up my body.
I took an already sweaty season and made it even worse for myself. Honestly, I don’t know one fat woman who hasn’t worn the unofficial fat girl uniform of cropped leggings and a three-quarter-sleeve shirt at least once or twice. This usually happens while the thin people around us wear shorts and tanks — because it’s a zillion degrees outside and that’s the outfit that actually makes sense.
A few summers ago, I said, “Nope.” I was done being too freaking hot just because my body takes up more space than some other bodies. I threw away my matronly bathing suits, retired any “summer” clothes with sleeves longer than the elbow, and decided that never again would I prioritize diet culture’s idea of what I should wear over my own comfort. Whose bright idea was it to tell the most naturally insulated among us to wear the most clothes? Illogical.
Now, I get in the pool no matter who is looking.
I wear bikini tops with skirted bottoms because that’s what makes me feel adorable. Sleeveless dresses, shorts, tank tops, crop tops … they’re all in my closet. I’ve embraced my body and made peace with it, so now I feel free to dress for comfort and my personal style instead of using clothing to attempt to cover up the only body I have.
Everyone deserves to do the same. Your body is already a summer body, whether you are smaller than you were last winter or not. Your body is a shorts body. A tank top body. Every body is already swimsuit body, exactly as it is. Every. Single. Body is already a bikini body. The only requirement is your own desire to put a bikini on it!
You are allowed to enjoy all the parts of summer in your body exactly like it is.
Don’t let some arbitrary body standard created by people who profit from our insecurity (like the weight loss and fashion industries) stop you from feeling every sensation of summer to the fullest.
Cool water on sun-warmed skin feels just as glorious now as it did when you were an eight-year-old kid racing your cousins and siblings to the water’s edge. Wear a swimsuit. Any swimsuit that you love. Let yourself enjoy the weightlessness of time spent relaxing in the chilly water every chance you get. Your body deserves it.
Remember sitting at a picnic table at sunset outside the ice cream shop racing to lick the drips from your ice cream cone before they ran down your fingers? That experience still just feels like summer. If someone invites you to join them for a cone, don’t let body shame stop you. Throw a pair of shorts on your already perfect body and remember how it felt before the world told you that you didn’t deserve ice cream.
Everyone’s grandma had a freezer full of those inexpensive ice pops in the plastic wrappers. A lot of us still do! If you’ll let yourself enjoy one, you’ll be transported back to 1989, listening to the frogs’ summer song and allowing the cloying sweetness to cool your thirsty mouth after a prolonged game of sprinkler freeze tag. The best uniform for this is a giant t-shirt over a damp bathing suit and a pair of rubber flip flops. Trust me.
There are so many summer sensations that you just can’t experience to the fullest if you are stuck in layers of clothes that are too damn hot for the occasion.
Only a very small portion of the population is truly thin enough to look like the people who model the summer clothes we are supposed to buy. Even the people who are that kind of thin struggle to see themselves when they look at the twenty-year-old, extraordinarily gorgeous, flawless models in the ads.
We are all doing our best to accept our bodies because we have all been sold an impossible beauty standard. But here in reality, the things that makes us look different than the “ideal” are actually important parts of our story. Stretch marks, fat rolls, scars, dimples, wrinkles, flaps, sags, moles, jiggles, stray hairs … they are all the things that shout to the world, “Hey! I’ve lived!” Even the most “flawless” person alive has some evidence of life on their body. It’s absurd to call these things flaws when they’re proof that we have survived every single thing life has thrown our way and lived to enjoy another summer.
This year when the unrelenting rays of the sun send Spring on its way, and Summer arrives to warm the atmosphere with its blazing heat, don’t be tempted to cover your body in dark colors and too many layers to try to make yourself look small.
You deserve to feel the sun on your face (through a sensible level of SPF), the cool water on your skin, and to take in all the sights and smells and flavors of summer in clothes that keep you comfortable.
Summer attire is for EVERY body — especially yours.