It’s summer. It’s hot. It’s gonna be 113 degrees this weekend, and that SUX.

Summer, especially in Arizona, is the season that every fat girl dreads. It forces us to confront our own bodies in a way we can’t just push aside or cover with sweaters, like we do during the cooler months.

My first summer in Phoenix, I just about killed myself because I insisted on wearing jeans and cardigans. I kept myself covered because I was so self-conscious and scared of “offending” someone by showing skin. I made myself so uncomfortable — like, SO UNCOMFORTABLE — in hopes that I would make strangers more comfortable by not having to look at me.

I remember running into someone in the dorms who told me I was “crazy” for wearing jeans and a cardigan in the 120-degree heat. The very next day, she stood right by me at the light rail and became visibly and audibly repulsed by a fat woman who was wearing shorts and a tank top. “Ugh, dress for the body you have, not the body you want,” I remember her saying. I was silent as I thought of the splotchy heat rash I had been covering up under my jeans and cardigans—heat rash that I got from wearing long pants and long sleeves in 120-degree weather to begin with.

Such has been the relationship most bigger girls have with summer. We feel trapped into this corner where we sacrifice our comfort for yours.

We’re told to be ourselves, to dress however we want, as long as it doesn’t challenge beauty standards and make others uncomfortable. Which, for us, means… What? Jeans and cardigans in 120 degrees? We’re told to embrace our bodies and love them, but just so we don’t get ~too~ comfortable: Here is a list of workouts to do every day for 6 weeks in advance of your first beach day, and here is a list of stunning/gorgeous/amazing full-length swimsuit coverups to wear when you’re not physically in the water — you know, when people can actually see your body.

I’m sick of it. I will never spend another summer petrified inside my house because I’m having a panic attack triggered by the idea of wearing shorts in public. I will never sit on my beach blanket, fully clothed, because I am too afraid of my friends seeing me in a swimsuit. This summer, when I feel that once-fatal gaze of people who think body positivity is a synonym for “glorifying obesity” on my arms and legs, I’ll just think, “Haha, fuck you.” I’ll think of the people who love me — not despite of what I look like, what I wear and how I carry myself, but because of it.

This summer, keep in mind that fat girls don’t get dressed for you. What they wear is their business, not yours. If you laugh at a fat girl for wearing clothes that don’t cover all her wobbly bits in this heat, YOU’RE the gross one. Not them. They are simply existing in this world, trying to stay cool and comfortable in the face of oppressive heat and oppressive beauty standards.

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