The summer is always hard. While the beautiful sunshine and fresh air are a welcome break from a college student’s monotony, it always has a way of making me uncomfortable in my own skin. Especially being a plus-size woman in America, fashion companies rarely consider me when they put out their summer lines. For most of my adolescence, I was always that friend who wore pants and sweatshirts all summer and insisted I was fine. I wore flats and sneakers, swore off sandals or shorts, and sat on the sidelines during every summer adventure. Ironically, doing any of this never made me feel better about my body. Instead, I always seemed even more uncomfortable.
The worst part? I didn’t want to dress like that! I always felt forced into these abominable and ill-fated fashion choices in the boiling summer months. I was gifted with these big, beautiful thighs that love to chafe every time I try to wear dresses or shorts. So, I settled on wearing leggings to avoid the discomfort. I can’t stand typical summer sandals with thin soles and notches between each toe, so I resort to flats and sneakers — which gave me awful tan lines. I spent years in this discomfort, and honestly, I don’t think I’m alone. While people with different body types or shapes feel it more than most, everyone suffers from increased self-consciousness every summer season.
You’ll notice, however, that most of this article has been in past tense. That’s because nowadays, I’m not that friend anymore. I bought my first pair of shorts (that actually fit me correctly) this summer. Last summer, I bought my first bikini. Yes, you heard me correctly; your trusty plus-size author owns and wears a bikini. I wear sandals that suit my tastes, tank tops that make me feel good about my arms, and I’ll even wear my hair up nowadays. Why the change in confidence?
Because I have a beach body. Even with these big, beautiful thighs, and plus-size labels on all of my clothes, I have a body fit for every summer. And the kicker? I’ve always had it.
Being confident in public isn’t always easy but it’s gotten easier since I’m no longer the only one angry about the images that we are supposed to mimic each season. Society has started asking for greater diversity and sizes, especially as the weather gets warmer. My favorite example is the infamous ad from Protein World a couple of seasons ago, asking viewers if they were ” beach body ready” yet. The answer? An overwhelming backlash on social media and several spoofs on the ad telling customers than any body could be a beach body simply by being at the beach. And trust me, they’re not wrong. It can actually be that simple, given a bit more confidence, self-love, and a respect for the body you have.
For anyone who’s curious where I find clothes and accessories that help me stay confident all summer long, I recommend shopping at Forever 21+, Torrid, and Target for comfortable and affordable plus-sized fashion. For anyone who’s interested in supportive and durable bikinis constructed for plus-sized women, I highly recommend Forever 21+ , where I purchased my own bikini, as well as Torrid.
If someone like me can wear a bikini, it means that anyone can wear anything that makes them feel confident all summer long. If this means sweatshirts and pants to you, then that’s what you should be wearing. Conversely, if this means booty shorts and crop tops, then go at it. Do not let anyone’s expectations force you into discomfort this season. I don’t need to do anything to attain a body that deserves to be seen and be comfortable all summer. I’ve made an effort to make myself comfortable, in spite of what others want me to believe about myself. I’ve finally come to believe that I am beautiful, no matter what the weather or season, and I promise, you are too. Now go put on your best outfit this summer, and rock that beach body of yours!