Bikini or coat, it's no one's business how you dress in the heat

Last week saw the UK hit peak temperatures, including an absolutely ridiculous high of 38 degrees on Thursday (global warming says hi!).

As a nation, we did what we do best: broke out the sunscreen, had a bit of a moan on Twitter, complained about the ineptitude of public transport in said weather, and dusted off our favourite sandals.

As summer looms, a whisper of the words ‘bikini’, ‘shorts’ or ‘sundress’ and many of us turn against ourselves, inner voices whispering words of self-doubt.

This is a problem because critical thoughts interfere with our ability to relax and enjoy ourselves.

So, rather than focusing on the books we’re going to catch up on in the summer, friends we’ll have long lunches with or the quality time we’ll be spending with friends and family, holiday and heat anticipation is tinged with dread, causing a negative body image to loom larger.

Like clockwork, I began noticing tweets coming through condemning those not to dress down in the heat.

Statements such as ‘how can XXX be wearing a leather dress/tights/a cardigan in this heat?!’ and other such judgy statements started to filter through the interwebs and I suddenly felt rather triggered.

It got me thinking about the way I used to be treated by strangers as a teenager when I would opt to wear leggings and a long-sleeved top in the summertime and frankly, it makes me wonder why it’s anyone’s business how someone chooses to dress during a particular weather.

Like most of us, my teenage years in regards to how I felt about my body weren’t the best of years.

I spent the large majority of my time covering the areas that I hated; covering up self-harm scars, fat, cellulite, rolls and hyperpigmentation.

The idea of going on holiday – or just heat in general – used to incite pure terror in me and was a huge reason why I hated the season. 

Showing my body off and allowing it to breath and be kissed by the sun was a concept that I didn’t understand – why would anyone ever want to see my fat body in a *gasp*, sleeveless top?

The general public does not deserve to see such a thing walking around in public.

I thought that I was unworthy of feeling the benefits of sunlight and warmth – as weird as it sounds – because of how my body looked, and it would be incredibly frustrating to be faced with a barrage of glances and comments on ‘how hot I must be’ and ‘why I’m covering up’.

Well stranger if I were to unleash this body, you’d probably comment on my saggy boobs or how I ‘should dress for the body I have and not the body I want’! It wasn’t enough that I was punishing my body for existing in its natural state – society was doing that for me too.

This is by no means a ‘fat only’ issue, as the insecurities affect all bodies, regardless of size or shape. ‘I have acne scars all over my body, in particular arms, shoulders, back and chest. So I actually hate summer especially day time’ says Payzee, from South London.

Sia also mentions the taunts she gets from strangers in summer when covering up, ‘People used to make fun of me for wearing tights in the summer… I still do a lot of the time’.

As someone who speaks about body confidence and self-esteem for a living, you would think that I would be encouraging others to ‘live their best lives’ and go out wearing as little as possible and to not care about what people say.

The truth is that the journey of loving yourself and achieving body confidence can be a long one and we have to remember that not everyone is at the same stage of their journey.

It is important to allow others to exist in whatever way they feel comfortable, even if it’s not something you may agree with.

Who knows, they may be taking their first steps towards self-love and it’s not a case where one can just strip down after years of insecurity and societal conditioning over how our bodies should be presented.

I went through 20 years of wearing cover-ups and tights in the heat before I could get to a point where I could start showing skin and not feel horrible for doing so.

It’s also a case where people may just generally feel more comfortable in a jumper or a coat in the heat, they may have an illness that prevents them from exposing their skin, or another ailment or condition that may prevent them from wanting to expose their bodies to the heat.

I believe it’s incredibly important to think about before providing an unsolicited comment to someone who has probably heard the same types of comments all day.

You may unintentionally be fuelling their insecurities even more and in this modern body positive(ish) era that we currently live in, it’s important to allow ourselves to exist in whichever shape and form we feel comfortable in, even if it is 38 degrees!

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