I’ve always loved hot weather. I was born in California, lived in Miami, and then slowly came to love the hot Memphis summers. Synonymous with hot days is summer vacation, summer camp in North Carolina, warm nights, star filled skies, the beach, shorts and sun dresses. Some of my all time favorite things. Slowly, however, I have begun to despise the slow turning from winter to spring to summer. With summer comes pool parties and that obviously means swim suits. It started in fifth grade. My best friend and I decided it would be fun to have a pool side fashion show using foam noodles and beach towels as materials for our runway looks. With a towel draped over my shoulder and floats on my arm, I noticed something I hadn’t thought much of before. I was slightly pudgier than my friend. With no chest whatsoever, my rounded hips looked disproportional to my otherise boyish top half. My hairy legs touched from my waist to my knees and somehow, that simple summer activity switched my mentality about summer.
I still love everything that hot days bring. But there has not been a summer since when I have not dreaded going to a place in swim suit attire where I would see people outside of my family. Even at camp where everyone is wearing unflattering one pieces, I always found myself to be less beautiful or fit than the year long country cross runners with their 0% body mass and six pack abs. I had no waist definition and large hips with a weirdly small torso and stubby legs. It didn’t help my self confidence that, along with having little to no “figure,” my puberty brought along overly active sweat glands. When everyone else loved going to the fair during the peak of summer, I dreaded it. Not only was it a breeding zoo for awkward middle school encounters, but while all the other girls managed to still look good three hours after waiting in lines and walking around in 90 degree weather, my face was dripping, I smelled like a locker room, and my thighs were chaffing in my uncomfortably tight jean shorts. Adding on to this, the one physical quality I thought I could control, my hair, was no match to the Memphis humidity. While everyone else had semi-straight hair that would, at its worse, get a slight wave in it during the summer, mine would expand and extra three inches in all directions and any attempt I had made at straightening it would be gone in the first hour.