*NB: I will be talking here about fat bodies, specifically my own. If the word “fat” offends you, this post is not for you. As with all other posts, opinions are my own. Your body is YOURS to do what you please with, and I encourage you to make choices that are right and comfortable for you. These are just my own experiences and things that helped me be comfortable in my own skin.*
If you currently live in today’s society, particularly if you are a woman, then I do not doubt that you have experienced the gut wrenching pain that is worrying about your weight and your looks.
To live in 2016 is still to live in a society wherein we play compliant pawn to expectations thrust upon us by media and our peers. To know you’re fat if you’re anything 12+. To know you’re ugly if your skin doesn’t look as smooth as a porcelain toilet bowl and your hair doesn’t glisten with the shine of a thousand suns. To listen to and watch and read advert upon advert upon advert that tells you that you need to work on your “summer body” (as if you are not fully whole in your existence year-round), that you need to get “bikini ready”, that you need to wax and exfoliate and put makeup on and take makeup off and have a BMI of exactly 18 to be classified as societally acceptable.
A year and a half ago I decided that I didn’t want to be party to it anymore. I decided that I didn’t want to have my life dictated by others and whether or not I fit into their brackets of socially acceptable, and it has been revolutionary for the discovery of my self. I am the size that I am and no longer worry about food, I wear makeup because I like it, and I wear the clothes I feel most comfortable and happy in. This has led to me being fatter and happier than I ever have been.
But there are certain times when I am forced to think about my fatness.
I still have privilege in my size. I can fit comfortably into most chairs, airline seats etc… seatbelts still fit me fine… I can even sometimes walk in and buy something from a straight-sized store. I am aware that fats bigger than me have many more obstacles in daily life. However, there are things that have changed for me being the size I am now compared to what I was. It’s not enough to make me want to diet (I doubt there’s much that could put me back on that path), but sometimes certain situations have to make me think about how I’m going to comfortably get through the day. My biggest obstacle with this yet was going on holiday.
So here’s my list of how to cope with being fat, and making yourself comfortable, on holiday:
This is priority numero uno.
When you’re fat you have more folds than the regular person to keep clean and dry and cool, and you also have more body parts rubbing together. Couple this with the fact that fat people tend to have a higher basal body temperature than thin people, and things can get pretty hot and sticky. The best way to deal with this is to find a way to keep yourself cool.
Now I know there are a lot of sun-worshipping and tanning fatties out there: I am not one of them. So one of the easiest ways I found to keep cool was to seek shade. When by the pool and on the beach, I always sought the comforting shade of a parasol. This obviously helps keep your body temp down by being out of direct sun, but you can still enjoy everything that’s going on around you and enjoy the relaxing scenery from your sun lounger. Plus, you don’t have to worry about turning yourself every 10 minutes!
Another super important thing, for all people but especially helpful for fats, is to be drinking a lot of water. If you’re in a country where drinking tap water is not recommended, then make one of the first things you do on arrival to be buying gallons of drinking water from a nearby supermarket or local shop. And never leave your hotel/villa/wherever you’re staying without water. I know there’s a lot of you health nuts who do this anyway: it’s even more important on holiday.
A cold beer or cocktail is always tempting to escape from the midday heat – and go for it! You’re on holiday! But always remember to rehydrate yourself as a follow up, especially if drinking during the day.
The last thing – which was my saviour – was to be taking cold showers at least once a day, sometimes twice depending on what you’ve been doing. This not only cools you down, but it gives you the opportunity to rehydrate through your skin, hair, etc, and you can follow up straight away with your sunscreen (in the morning) or after sun (evening/night).
This kinda ties into the first point about keeping cool. What better way to keep cool than to be in the water? (With sunscreen thoroughly applied, of course).
I am a fat water baby. I love being in the pool. Not the swimming part so much, but I do like to wade around in the shallows like a hippo, or float and doggy paddle around the depths. To me, being at the pool is part of making a holiday a holiday, as opposed to a city break or something.
I am not one to lie around the pool all day every day, reading and tanning and swimming, but I do like to spend some time there after spending a day walking about, or to take a few hours to chill. On this particular holiday my aunty and uncle were teaching my daughter to swim, and it was so nice to get into the pool and swim around with her doing her first “mermaid kicks” in her little rubber ring.
But with a pool, of course, comes swimwear.
You could do what I used to do, and wear T-shirts and kaftans when actually swimming. If you’re doing this to cover up from the sun then yes, I fully recommend it, but if you’re doing what I was doing and using that as an excuse because you just wanted to hide your fat body, then I implore you to spend some time finding swimwear you love.
If you are not at that stage yet, I get that. If you feel best covered up, then you do you, honey. I fully support the decisions you make regarding your body. But I didn’t want to be covered up anymore. I wanted to swim and feel water on my arms and legs and… BELLY.
I managed to do a weekend away with friends last year that involved a hot tub by being fully covered by a bath sheet right up until the steps of the hot tub, then putting it back on straight away when getting out. But this year I wanted to walk about in a BIKINI. And guess what?
Look at this fat water baby.
And my number one advice for having the confidence to do this is: find swimwear you love. I am still definitely not at a stage where I can wear a low-rise, spaghetti-strapped little number, but the transition from a one piece to this high-waisted and halter-topped Forever 21+ bikini was quite easy. Of course I had some hang-ups, and it took a little encouragement from those around me to do it, but once I was there and wearing it I felt invincible.
I actually took 3 swimsuits and 2 bikinis on this holiday, but I decided I didn’t feel confident in 2 of the swimsuits once I got there, and because I just did not feel confident in them at all, I decided not to wear them, and instead chose my old faithful which makes me feel amazing:
[Unfortunately this one is going into retirement now as the fabric has thinned too much :
My point is this: if you find it difficult to wear swimwear, take your time, and find something you love which makes you love you.
When I was on honeymoon, I told Ell I wished there were more fat confident women around me to make me feel more at ease in my swimwear. This year I told him that I wanted to be that fat, confidant woman.
I want to reiterate that this is a personal opinion post on what helped me this summer, and this is one of the greatest for me.
Reclaiming my bingo wings has been a hard-fought battle for me. I actually don’t really care about having a fat ass, legs, tummy… but my arms took more getting used to. I’ve always thought they have been disproportionately large, even when I was thin (they’re not) and I have sweated my way through many, many summers because I refused to take my cardie off. The cardigan was one of the last hurdles I faced when it came to taking ownership of my body.
I do love a good cardie, and wear them near daily, but the difference now is if I get hot, I’ll take it off. It seems so simple to those without body hangups, but for me, even now, removing my cardie heightens my anxiety. But I did it! And I am really proud of myself for keeping it off during the day this holiday, even if my demons scream at me a little when I see photos without it, and I recommend everyone to do the same. I didn’t know what a breeze felt like on my arms, and my pits (!) and it is wonderful.
In a similar respect, I’m gonna talk about my boobs. I have big boobs. They’re 34GG and as well as being big, they are saggy. Funnily enough, this isn’t something I have a particular hang-up about. My boobs have always been saggy, from the moment they started growing. And then I breastfed a kid, and now they’re saggier. It’s genetics. I come from a line of saggy boobs. My nipples prefer to have conversations with the floor than whatever’s in front of me. Most of the time I keep my boobs reigned in with overpriced bras, which they look really great in. But I have a confession: I hate bras.
If I’m not leaving the house, there’s no way in hell I’m putting on a bra. If I’m just popping to the shops, I’ll have a debate in my head on whether I think the time/weather/outfit begets putting one on. If I’m going to be around people, I always will, simply for the piece of mind that they will be conversing with me and not thinking about the large gravitational pull on my chest.
I went on holiday with the intention of wearing bras. I took all three of mine (yes, three: look up the price of well-fitting bras in my size) and I lasted approximately 3 hours. My bra came off in terminal 3 of Heathrow airport before boarding the plane and I said BUH-BYE for the entirety of the holiday. I did try them a couple of times when there, but I NOPE’d out of that within 5 minutes of putting it on.
Was I self-conscious of my tits? Sure. A bit. But I quickly got over it when I thought about wearing a bra in the heat.
Look, if wearing bras is your deal and that’s what makes you comfortable: go for it. I’m not here to tell you what to do, just give some tips on what helped me. And for me, talcuming under my boobs and suffering some saggy boobs in photos was 100x better than sweating under back straps and having thick shoulder straps digging into sunburned shoulders.
Fat people: you know what I’m talking about.
I’m talking chub rub, swollen limbs, spots and sweaty folds.
Yep, this may not be a particularly appealing thing to read about, but it’s reality. Come on, even if you’re skinny you know you’re gonna get a bit sweaty and sticky in summer sun on holiday: just know the reality is so much worse when you’re fat. But all you gotta do is be prepared.
Take this photo for instance:
Not the most fashionable look I’ve ever sported, but it served a purpose.
On that day, Elliot and I were going a 3 mile walk around the coast up and down several stairs, and around hilly and rocky paths. Maxi skirts are a great thing to take to keep you cool on holiday, but as a fat person, they just do not work for walking great distances. Wearing trousers or leggings on holiday may not be particularly cool, but I’ll take the extra heat these leggings gave me over chub rub any day. I’m also wearing braids so that my hair would stay out my face and keep me from getting sweaty, and wearing flip flops because my feet had swollen up in the heat :))))
The best thing I chose to do was wear leggings on this day, and also when I went to Barcelona, which would have been a nightmare for me in a maxi skirt. If leggings are just too hot for you, swap out for some linen or cheesecloth trousers.
On days I did wear flowy skirts to keep cool and knew I wouldn’t be doing much walking, I was armed with talcum powder to keep the chub rub at bay, and stop the sweat from forming under my boobs, and deodorant to keep feeling fresh. Noice.
If you’re anything like me and don’t cope with heat particularly well, going on a summer holiday can leave you feeling like a hot, sweaty mess. The best advice I can give to counteract this to have things on hand to make you feel good about yourself.
I had to deal with the fact that I was sans bra and cardigan a lot of days, and not always feeling my best about my outfit choices, so I counteracted that by making myself feel good with makeup. That’s my comfort zone. I can go without a perfect outfit if my face is on point.
I took a lot of makeup on holiday with me and was glad to have it there. It’s something that makes me feel good.
As you can tell, I walk around like I don’t own a single hair product, but if hair is your thing, then spend time making your hair nice on holiday. Whatever you can do to make you feel a bit more like you in coping under different conditions.
On the same note, if you’re able to go out for an evening take clothing for then that makes you feel amazing. For me this was on the evening of my Mum’s 50th birthday, when I wore one of the most beautiful dresses I’ve ever owned.
It may look simple, but it makes me feel cool and confident, and basically, like a badass bitch. To feel as hot as I did then, even for one night, made all my woes fade away.
I know, I know… you’re on holiday, you want to look nice. And you can! But do you want to sacrifice having a good time over worrying about every single photo that’s taken of you?
This is something I confront in every day life generally, but it becomes even more relevant when you’re on holiday and likely to be taking loads of photos. I get through this on the daily because when my husband takes photos of me, he either doesn’t allow me to see them or he lets me see while he’s holding the phone. This is because I either send myself into a tizzy of “I look awful in ALL of them” or just straight up delete them from his phone, which infuriates him because he likes them and wants to keep photos of me on his phone.
I’m not saying that I don’t pick out flattering photos to share on social media; we all do. But what I am saying is this: don’t be like me and freak out over the photo even being taken. It’s your holiday, and you want to create some memories through pictures and not be deleting your memories because you look weird or fat or you hate your hair or your clothes or your face. Especially if you are with family and friends who want to treasure those memories as much as you.
In this social media world sometimes we forget that not everything has to be shared with everyone. The photos we take are filed away for memories for us, and for our families, potentially even future generations. You’re probably just going to end up ruining your own – and other peoples’- good time by complaining about how you look in every photo.
Plus the fact that – sorry to break it to you – but the way you look in what you deem unflattering photos is probably how you look to other people around you in reality. Selfie culture allows us to curate those photos that we like, that help us feel good about ourselves, and show ourselves off a bit (something I am unapologetic about), but you are more than a selfie. Allow yourself to be seen through someone else’s eyes.
These are just a few of the things that helped me this year. I went on holiday with my family and it was one of the best weeks I have ever had, shared with people who I love and who love me. I count myself as lucky to have reached a point where I spend far less time caring about how I look than I used to, or I should say, caring about it in the right ways.
Fat or not, holidays are little slices of luxury that are there to help us relax. And there is just so much more to worry about in the world than buying into what the media tells you to. YOU HAVE a “summer body”. YOU HAVE a “bikini body”. If you choose to wear one.
Sure there’s some things I have outlined here that may be minor hurdles to cross when it comes to living in and with a fat body, but I would choose that any day alongside my own health and happiness.