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.

 I have spent hours on youtube looking for “The Bathing Suit to Wear with your Body Type.” The problem for me is that I can never fit into the given categories. Since I have no butt or boobs, my rounded form still doesn’t qualify as “curvy” and I’m not top or bottom heavy since there is nothing there. I don’t fit into the rectangle or elongated category because besides my 5’4” stature, my entire midsection can be outlined with a series of squiggly lines therefore disqualifying me from the “straight midsection with hips proportional to rip cage” descriptor. This has always been extremely frustrating to me because it felt like I couldn’t find the trick I needed to make my body look like all the other girls’. When other girls would complain about not having a flat stomach, I would always look at them and say, “At least you have boobs/a butt/nice legs.” For me, I had the worst combination of physical qualities.
But this was and is so stupid. Not only is it IMPOSSIBLE to ever be satisfied with yourself if you continue to compare yourself to others, but there is no point. You’re wasting your time finding the flaws in yourself that no one else can see anyway. And regardless, they aren’t flaws. They’re you. I’m not going to say that I have come to some grand acceptance of my own self and that I’ve learned to rock my body and love myself all the time. I’m still a total work in progress regarding body positivity, BUT why not use this summer as a time to embrace myself and have fun wearing whatever I want and getting to do super fun things! I hope you all can learn to not hate the heat and instead accept it and love it, frizzy hair and sweaty back and all!!