Summer, for some people it’s their favourite time of year. The days get longer, nights are warmer, there’s sunbathing to do, you can go to the beach, have picnics, have BBQ’s and campfires, the list is never ending. But for me as a fat person, summer has become a season that I often dread. I can no longer hide under several layers of dark, baggy clothes and have no choice but to show my..*gasps* B O D Y. Along with feeling constantly exposed due to not having the safety of wearing a hoodie, there are many physical struggles: always sweating (in places you didn’t know you could sweat), OMG the chaffing that no amount of talcum powder will stop, the itching, the constant glossy forehead, hair being drenched with sweat and just general clamminess. Not to mention the fear of sitting on flimsy garden chairs, constantly scanning the environment you’re in to find shade, a fan or a cool breeze, or worrying about whether the airplane seatbelt will fit, which will probably not be a problem this year (thanks covid), and having to awkwardly ask the flight attendant for an extension. The list could go on and on.
To wear summer clothes and show your body as a fat person can be controversial. It can be a reason for why you receive stares or verbal abuse, or can even be seen as a brave thing. So, I hear you ask why is being called brave can be controversial? Well, for example, Plus Size women who post a picture wearing a bikini can receive an array of comments, but I guarantee there will always be someone who comments “Omg you’re so brave!” and although this doesn’t seem inherently bad, it can feel belittling and even insulting. A non-fat person wouldn’t be called brave for wearing a bikini on a beach, it’s normal attire for the beach, but often fat people are praised for doing something that wouldn’t seem like such a radical act if they had a smaller body. As a fat person, I don’t want to be brave, I just want to exist and live my life in the same way everyone else does without judgement.
This is not to say that I don’t feel brave within myself if I step outside my comfort zone and wear something I never thought I would wear as a plus-size person. I believe every plus-size/fat person who feels brave wearing clothes they feel is adventurous or daring is totally valid, and have every right to feel confident and comfortable in their skin and clothing this summer, just without society labelling it as something progressive or revolutionary. This doesn’t mean I, or other fat people, don’t want to be complimented, by all means compliment us on how we look or tell us how much you like the top we’re wearing, just don’t call us brave. We shouldn’t have to feel brave for dressing in the same way smaller bodied friends do. It’s a reminder of the subtle fatphobia rife in society and the fear and shame we’ve been taught to feel when we let our body see the light of day.