I’m struggling this Summer. It’s not exactly hot here in England, but it’s getting noticeably warmer and brighter. Usually this means my low-cut dresses and short skirts come out for the season, but this year I’ve been covering up with hoodies and jeans when I’ve ventured outside instead.
I think this is because I’ve been getting a lot of fatphobia since last Summer. This has come from strangers, who harass me in the street, and from friends, who good-naturedly but non-consensually touch my stretch marks. It’s frightening. Even so, my goal this Summer is to make an effort to work through my fear of harassment and wear the shorts and crop tops I know will help me cool off.
I’ve been covering up because it helps me feel more comfortable right now, but pretty soon it’s going to get too warm and I’ll have to find another way to be comfortable in my skin and in my clothes.
Photo description: It’s me a few years ago at a Summer event – I think it was Thought Bubble In Leeds – wearing a see-through lace blouse, a black crop-top, a short leopard-print skirt, and a cute hair bow. I’m wearing light make-up and smiling wryly at the camera. Next to me is one of my sisters’ cool trainers.
It shouldn’t matter how you look, whether you’ve got visible scars, or a stoma bag, or fat rolls, or body hair, or stretch marks – anything. What matters is that you should get to wear whatever keeps you cool, chafe-free, and comfortable when it’s warm outside.
It might take bravery, but maybe this is a challenge we can share – to wear as much or as little as we want when the weather gets hot. To buy a cute new dress when you usually hide your shoulders, or a bikini that doesn’t hide your tummy, or a backless top that helps your psoriasis get some much needed light. It also might help to treat yourself, if you can, to a cool new pair or sunglasses and earphones so you don’t have to hear anyone who might have an opinion about what you’re wearing. It might take a while to get used to it, but feeling the warmth and the air can be so liberating and good for you.
You deserve to feel the sun and the breeze on your skin as much or as little as you want. If you’re someone who society says needs to cover up – if you’re fat, for example, or disabled, or a trans person – it’s important to remember that you deserve to be physically and emotionally comfortable as much as any other person.
Let me know if you take up the challenge to enjoy the sun, and let me see your Summer outfits!
Photo description: Two of my sisters are swinging on a swing-set in colourful clothes and grinning. On their left is me, swinging high in the sky, wearing a dinosaur dress, a black sun hat, bare legs, and a big smile. It’s my 25th-ish birthday in the photo and the Summer sun is shining.