I make a point of reading body positive material. And there is much to read about "beach bodies", "bathing suit season" and anything to do with the fact that it's officially hot and people need to be comfortable in said heat. This butts up against my culturally implanted mental poison of thinking my body and all women's bodies are primarily ornamental and need to be beautiful to be seen. There is a lot of material around this. That our bodies are beautiful but also functional and being in public as a woman is in no way a bid for attention towards our bodies but actually an act of living life. Believe it or not, women in the grocery are actually there to buy food, not to field comments about their asses. This season also resurrects my church issued purity culture baggage which claims my body is overtly sexual and needs to be covered because it is bad and bad things happen when I "flaunt" my female figure. "Flaunt" in this case means anything that shows that I am female.
It's hot. The northwest does not get hot in comparison to other parts of the country. But summer is hot for us. And that is a funny thing because we've been so conditioned to not require heat or sun that when it emerges it's both glorious and disorienting. So, we sweat and genuinely feel distressingly overheated when it's 85 degrees. It's kind of cute and kind of awful.
I spend my summer juggling my work and my children. During the school year, many rhythms are built around school and work fits nicely into that. In the summer, all bets are off. I've wavered between having structured summers with classes and camps to give us a sense of normalcy and fun and having loosey-goosey summers where I burn out because there isn't enough space for me to be building my energy back up before the sun comes up at 5am yet again. It's a tricky time. That being said, I spend my time crouching to pick up my kids shit strewn across parks and pushing littles on swings and sweating. A lot. There is an awful lot of water play and many moments of panic as I try to keep my children from drowning.
The reason I mention my summer lifestyle is because I need a wardrobe that accommodates our activities. I like to look good. I don't want to wear cuts of clothing that make me feel fat or frumpy. I want to be cool. Airflow is a must. I don't want to wear layers, as it defeats the purpose of wearing clothes in the summer at all. I need my ass to not be hanging out (this is a challenge, having long legs). As my weight fluctuates, sometimes I prefer to have material between my thighs as I do not live in a reality that includes thigh gaps and again, it's hot. Chafing is a no. I like to wear shoes with airflow but without blisters, please. I like to have a bathing suit that covers the goods and stays put as once again, preventing drowning is my primary purpose in the water rather than sunbathing and not moving. But I'm 35 not 65 and ideally, my bathing suit would reflect my age in a reasonable way. And boobs...oh boobs. They are a tricky, tricky thing. I love my boobs, as should every woman regardless of their size. Boobs rock. BUT modesty culture does not like boobs. Ideally, they would not exist. In spite of that, my boobs are present every morning when I get dressed. This creates regular drama for me and for all of us who get to own boobs.
As most women experience, each outfit that I own or shop for hits most of these marks but never all of them. And so this morning, I wore a pair of bicycle shorts under my dress to avoid the ass hanging out inevitability. Now, I'm in a sundress that I adore, hides my tummy and has a darling print. But there's a solid inch of cleavage. Yesterday I wore a dress that hugged in all the right places (hubby was thrilled) but it was short. I decided I didn't care and loved it all day. It was really hot yesterday. The dress is tight so there was not a real ass hanging out threat. But whenever I dress in a way I like, I wrestle the demons of old. If cleavage is showing and I'm around a friend who still prefers their ladies covered, I pull at the top the whole time I'm around them. And this has got to stop.
I want to get to a point where I love my body. I'm doing pretty good with it. I'm really proud of the capability of my body and the beauty is so-so. It's a day-by-day thing. But I think I'm in a pretty good place overall. I have no interest in degrading or berating myself. But I wanted to acknowledge for any of the women out there who struggle to dress in the summer either because they're not a size 8 and therefore the world tells them they should not enjoy airflow in the heat or because they grew up in purity culture and wrestle with only being allowed to look so good before they hit flaunting status, you are not alone. And men have no idea what this is like. I'm proud of myself for dressing in a way that I would never have allowed myself to dress before. And I'm acknowledging to myself that this is a very big deal. So if you see my ass or my tits this summer, I'm not gonna lie. It's on purpose.