In the popularity contest of seasons – summer is the ‘hot’ one (metaphorically, sometimes literally).
It’s the one we all hope is going to show up, the one we try hardest to impress. The one who can make or break our social status. The one whose memory lingers years after we meet.
It’s the one we’re supposed to adore. The one we’re all supposed to wait for.
And so to say you don’t like summer is… *sucks teeth* not the done thing.
But I’m not a fan. There I said it.
Why? Because summer has not treated me well over our 30-something years of knowing one another.
I am not good enough for summer.
Not when I was a size 20, not when I was a size 8, not now settling somewhere in the mid-sizes… not ever. I must shrink and torture myself. I must spend exorbitant amounts of money on fad diets and ‘miracle’ treatments. I must wax, pluck and scrub away any signs that my body is human. I must act like it’s made of plastic, doesn’t grow hair or bleed or digest.
Cellulite? Unsightly. Pale skin? Unacceptable.
But worst of all… body fat.
You have body fat? In the eyes of summer, you don’t exist.
You could argue that things have improved over the last few years. When I was plus size, I couldn’t find a scrap to wear. I was constantly crying in changing rooms, being fat shamed and turning down invitations to the beach.
In the back of my mind, always, constantly, was the little voice that said ‘you aren’t good enough.’
Why? Why do women carry around this belief? Because the more time we spend worrying about tummy fat or grey hairs, the less time we spend on questioning the narrative.
As a women, you can’t do anything right. Whether we’re talking career, motherhood, your body… whatever choice you make is the wrong one. And I am exhausted.
Where the hell am I supposed to find the time to fit in the gruelling workouts and to strain the disgusting amounts of cabbage soup that would be required to make me anywhere near the kind of body shape that is ‘good enough’ for summer?!
Now, there are some incredible role models showing that when it comes to summer – or any season – style has nothing to do with size.
It’s brilliant to see ‘Shrill’ come back for its third series (on BBC) this week.
Plus-sized or mid-sized women have complicated, amazing, beautiful lives – but up until this point, we rarely saw that play out in mainstream media. They were either the figure of fun or the sad friend, eternally pathetic and alone. And all of this fed into the narrative that your body – your living, breathing, incredible body – isn’t good enough.
But we still have a long way to go. And the messages we get are more insidious now. Filters and surgery are rarely disclosed. And thanks to living in a digital age, we are being fed retouched imagery constantly.
And why aren’t all brands catering for all women? It’s simply unacceptable that certain lines still only go up to a size 16.
But even when you conform – even when you lose weight, spend your money on the miracle creams and tummy teas – it won’t be good enough. Trust me.
I lost weight. Because everything up to that point told me that skinny would equal happy. Everything told me that the thing stopping me from living my best life was the size of my thighs.
And now we’re heading towards another summer, there will be plenty of women out there obsessing over the size of theirs.
And they should be obsessed with their bodies – but not in a ‘I am wrong’ way. In a ‘I am magical’ way.
I think this summer, more than any other, it’s vital to remember your magic.
We’ve had a year ‘off’ – confined to our gardens or balconies in the heatwave of 2020.
With lockdown lifting on June 21 and events back on the agenda, the pressure to show up and ‘glow up’ will be intense.
Helping women feel amazing is the ethos behind my job as a stylist and personal brand coach.
But this means helping them feel amazing as they are. No amount of make up, hair dye, waxing strips, fake tan or diet pills are going to make you any more special than you already are.