Melanie Tait: ‘We live in a society where it’s a sin to be fat — it’s seen as lazy and indulgent and deliberate’.
Melanie Tait: ‘We live in a society where it’s a sin to be fat — it’s seen as lazy and indulgent and deliberate’. Ebony Bennett

Fat in summer? Let me tell you how much it sucks

THERE are lots of times in life when it sucks to be a fat person: at your high school formal if you're yet to realise there's more to you than the numbers on a scale, inside any ladies high street fashion store with size 8 shop assistants, walking into a cafe to note the chairs have arms that will most probably cut into your luscious arse.

Yet, the absolute worst time of every year to be a fatty, as most of my fat friends will attest, is summer.

Before I take you into life as a fat person in summer, I want to describe what summer is like as a person with a BMI in the healthy weight range is. Granted, it might be a bit rose coloured a recollection, as it's sandwiched between a heap of fat summers.

The summer of 2013-14 I was a size 12. Even a size 10 in one pair of jeans.

I glided through summer paddle boarding one day, frolicking at the beach the next. Meeting friends for drinks in beer gardens without worrying about bum sweat and walking up hills in dresses without getting chafed. And when I wasn't in flowing summer dresses, I was in denim cut-offs and singlets and sandals walking to and from work, running for buses with barely a bead of perspiration.

My biggest summer problem was making sure I remembered the sunscreen to slather over my tiny body.

It was bliss. I enjoyed every second of it, because I'd lived 33 summers before as a fat person.
 

For one summer, Melanie was a size 12.
For one summer, Melanie was a size 12. Sarah Corbett

Since that blissful summer of 2013-14, I've put on over 50kg. I'm a whole person heavier than I was. And man, summer is hard.

Let's begin with the sweat. It is everywhere. Spend enough time away from an airconditioner and it's under your arms, down your back, dripping down your neck.

It's also in every fold of your skin - your stomach, your arms, your feet - and worst of all it makes its way from your bum to your knees so whenever you get up from a chair that's made of plastic, you leave a little pool of yourself behind.

Clothes are the stuff of nightmares too. This summer, I have about three outfits on rotation: black jeans and polka dot T-shirt (pictured in the most flattering angle I could get!), black jeans and grey T-shirt, and black polyester dress with flowers on it.

Australia isn't great at casual clothes for fats who don't like to look like they're living in the part of the 1980s when brown was in vogue. You need to be super organised to buy your summer clothes from the incredible plus-size fashion houses in the US, as they're dressing for winter at the moment.

As for your feet - did you know your feet actually put on weight too? So if you're fat over summer, already struggling to find a cute sandal, walking outside in a shoe you're not completely sure can breathe will swell and leave you with blisters and sore feet for days.

If you were thinking of getting your fat sex on, you'll want a bunch of airconditioning too, because everything becomes sticky. Your undies become like a heavy second skin and your bra enjoys digging into swollen up, hot sweaty, skin. Yum.

The worst of all the summer things being a fat person is thigh chafe. If you dare wear a dress without bike pants, bloomers, anti-chafe cream or a reapplying of talcum powder every five minutes, you're in big trouble.

Fat skin rubbing up against fat skin can be so painful sometimes you'll walk as though you've been riding a horse for the last three days.

The site of the chafe often looks like it's been through a nasty burn incident. It's painful, and embarrassing.

These is the physical reality of being a fat person in summer - but what about the psychological ramifications?
 

Melanie Tait
Melanie Tait Supplied

We live in a society where it's a sin to be fat - it's seen as lazy and indulgent and deliberate (though why anyone would choose the above if they had an actual choice, beats me!). Fat people are still ritually mocked in stand-up comedy and across the internet in hurtful memes.

It takes a lot of strength and guts to go into summer as a fat person and wear what you want - to be unconcerned with showing the cellulite on your legs or arms, the stretch marks and fat rolls on your stomach with a crop top.

The things that our society is taught not only in women's magazines, but in public health campaigns, is disgusting.

For many of my fat friends, summer becomes a time of great isolation for them - a time when they feel they can't be outside without being judged, a time when they're worried about all those things I've mentioned, a time when depression creeps in and darkens a time that is sunny for most other people.

So, before you judge any of your red faced, sweaty, uncomfortable friends this summer and guide them towards paleo or whatever's keeping you thin for the last little while, have a think about the pain they might be in. And if they could do your paleo to avoid all this, wouldn't they?

And I didn't even get started on the angst of finding a swimming costume that doesn't look exactly like what your nanna wore in the mid seventies (and her mid seventies).

Melanie Tait tweets @melanietait and is the evenings presenter at ABC Radio Tasmania



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