Today it’s 75 and sunny in Vermont. Gorgeous. The kind of day when I love to cruise with the windows down and the music up. Days like this mean summer is almost here, which makes me happy, but also fills me with dread. Why? Because this is the time of year the world starts to barrage women with questions about the readiness of their bodies. Headlines inquire, “Are you ready for summer?” “Do you have a bikini body?” “What kind of swimsuit is best for your body type?” The media polices and dictates women’s bodies year round, but it’s never more obvious than when summer is approaching.
The message to women is clear: it’s time to change or hide. Those are your only options. Time to diet and pump up the exercise regimen so you can shed those winter pounds. Or if you’re audacious enough to not change your body you need to cover it up. Which swimsuit will hide that unsightly tummy? Which shorts will control those embarrassing thighs? What cut of t-shirt will conceal those less than toned arms. Cover it all up. Hide it under fabric. Your body doesn’t deserve to be shown.
Larger women are always told to hide themselves away and not just physically. They are taught to be quiet, not disruptive. Their bodies are already disruptive. They are told to be hide in the shadows. Their bodies already take up too much space. They are told to calm down. Their personalities are too large already. They are told to become smaller versions of themselves. Their current size isn’t pleasing to the rest of the world. They should hide their size or change it in order to move through this world more easily.
Having a large body that you refuse to make smaller is a powerful statement. It says to the world that you refuse to be marginalized. It tells the world that your body does not exist for them, so it doesn’t have to conform to their standards. It tells the world that your body is yours to do with what you will.
Not hiding a larger body under layers of fabric is an even more powerful statement. It says that a large body is not shameful. It says that you don’t believe your body parts are flawed. It says that you have nothing about yourself to hide. It says that your body deserves to be shown, deserves to be seen.
For me, body positivity was easier, not easy, but easier, this winter and spring when I was able to hide under bulky sweaters and skinny jeans. It was easier to accept my arms when I didn’t have to see them. It was easier to accept my thighs when they weren’t showing. It was easier to accept my tummy when I didn’t have to think about it showing in a bathing suit. With the warm weather upon me I can’t pretend that I’m not nervous about showing my body.
The difference this summer is that I refuse to make myself physically uncomfortable by hiding my body. When I was larger years ago I refused to wear shorts, even in the hottest summers. I always wore t-shirts and never wore tank tops. I bought all the fatkini swimsuits believing that they were the only ones I could wear. I was often hot, sweaty, and awfully uncomfortable. Today I’m wearing capri yoga pants and layered tank tops. The yoga pants are skintight and my arms are in full view, but I am comfortable. Temperature-wise at least. I’ll work on being emotionally comfortable throughout the summer. But I absolutely refuse to hide all summer just because I’m being told I should.
Is your body summer ready? If you have a body and it’s summer where you live then you’re ready. Go put on some shorts and a tank top and enjoy the sun.