Yes, I'm Fat, But Spare Us the Cruelty This Summer

Summer. The time of year for barbecues, music festivals, denim hotpants, side-boob, and salt-spritzed hair. All hazy good fun and young flesh on display; magazines yelling for us civilians to get ready for "bikini season"; and everyone doing their best to look like those women gracing magazine covers.


Excuse me if I sound bitter, it's just because I am – I hate it. Summer can be the most difficult three months of the year if you're like me. Let me explain a bit about my situation, which isn't a unique one. I'm fat. My gig isn't that bad, really, and I'm not part of a group generally considered worthy of vitriol, like, for example, paedophiles. I'm just big. Your run-of-the-mill, rotund, red-faced, glistening, uncomfortably chubby chick.

Summer is tough for people like me – there are the irksome physical things to struggle through, of course, this being the season of always feeling slightly damp, always itchy, not being able to keep my face unshiny and a healthy shade shy of fire-engine red. And all this while parted from the safety of a cardigan. There are so many "fun" situations to be avoided – desperately trying to head off dangerous picnic plans with friends before they go too far ("we can sit under that tree over there, on the grass! And we will all definitely be able to get up from the ground afterwards!"), rickety garden seating at my nan's house, trying not to mainline ice-cream in public again.

But the other part I find really horrible is curious, a strange side-effect – summer is open season on those of us who take up a bit more space in this world. Recently a woman sitting with two men, focused her glazed eyes on me and two mates who were out for our lunch break, and slurred that her friend had just started working at a pie shop.

I thought: "Please don't say it, lady. Not in front of my friends who are kind enough to pretend they don't see the extra seven stone of me that shouldn't be there."

But she said: "YOU look like you like pies, big 'un."

My friends gasped and looked at me with a bit of pity, there's about three beats where they whispered outrage as we walked away, and I mumbled: "Yeah, don't worry – that happens sometimes …"

Another day, I was walking down the high street in my village, and two children were heading towards me – two little blonde middle-class kids. How sweet, I think. As we passed each other, the little girl remarked to her brother, looking forward passively: "Gosh, she's big, isn't she?"

Ouch. A right hook to the (considerable) gut. But she had a point; there's no room for denial here. I mean, there's barely any extra room for her on the pavement to get past me.

One more example: it was the hottest day of 2014 so far and my brother and I – who's also big – were on our way home. It was a nice day, apart from the swollen joints, salty sweat-lined pudgy faces and damp T-shirts, and we were nearly home free. A black jeep slowed down, and a disembodied voice said "porky" before driving away. Just a wry kind of "porky", like: "Look, you guys, we both know I have to say it. I'm just going to put it out there, and then go on my way."

My brother said with a shrug: "At least it only happened once today," then we went home with bags full of enough snacks for a party.

I suppose the facts of a fat summer are ones I accept and embrace every time I get a Big Mac (which is more often than I should, and yet never enough), and I'm self-aware enough to know that being this big isn't good for me, that barbs from strangers on the street are mixed with truths. Because all they were doing, all any of the people who shouted from vans, or whispered to me on public transport, or stopped on the street to say something, was pointing out my choice. Perhaps making sure I know for sure that it's the wrong one. But it's unnecessary, I know. When I can't buy clothes on the high street, I know. When my thighs rub together as I walk, I know. I'm fat. And maybe that's wrong, and looks disgusting compared with everyone else out in the sun, but what should I do during the summer?

Look at it this way: maybe you're not fat, but you are ugly. Or you're old, or you're stupid, you're losing your hair, or you don't look good in a Hawaiian shirt. You don't fit into summer either, not really. So how about you regular-sized people give us big 'uns a break when you see us struggling to look like we're totally comfortable with all this for the next three months. We promise we'll go back to covering up when autumn hits.

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