June has been outrageously hot. The weather of the last week has been particularly scorching, with temperatures touching nearly 40 degrees in London on Wednesday. Despite the fact that I have complained about it, along with every other Brit alive, I sort of loved it. But in the same way that I find myself desperately worried about animals in thunder storms, I was unable to truly enjoy the heatwave, painfully aware that for so many it was so horrible. And I don’t just mean for dogs and grass and pregnant ladies.
The weekend before the one we just had, I was in Stafford watching my boyfriend do his half Ironman in the boiling heat and was surprised to find that my sympathies were not just with the athletes, putting themselves through hell in ridiculous temperatures. I found myself cripplingly sad to see how many of the spectators were really struggling. Struggling not just because there wasn’t an ounce of shade around, but because of what they were wearing. Tights, leggings, jeans, cardigans, heavy maxi-skirts and jumpers. Women putting themselves through hell so as not to show their bodies.
I used to feel like this. My sister still does. As a teenager I would truly dread the holidays, properly frightened at the prospect of having to sow my body. Entire summers would go by and I would not part with my jeans. I’d look at everyone I knew in beautiful floating dresses and hate them and hate myself that I couldn’t do what they did. I convinced myself that my legs were the worst thing in the world and would do anything to avoid getting them out. My sister tells me regularly how much she hates the summer. I haven’t seen her this week to know how she got on in the sun but my money is on her having suffered through it in jeans.
For anyone not exploding body confidence, the summer can be a truly horrendous time. In the winter we can hide everything; cellulite is a problem only for our mirrors to deal with, the fact that our razors are gathering dust is something that only we notice and our lack of any tan at all is totally normal, no one is glowing in February.
But then the sun appears and BAM. Overnight we are expected to banish our layers, boast a glorious sun-kissed complexion, have smooth, toned legs and have hundreds of adorable sundresses at the ready, or so the theory goes anyway. And that thought, that fear, that theory, is enough to leave us feeling totally inadequate, inferior and ultimately, too embarrassed to put our comfort first.
At this point we do one of two things:
i) Put our comfort first and begrudgingly wear the closest thing we have to anything summery. We reluctantly shave our legs and leave our houses utterly convinced that everyone is staring at us and spend the whole day paralysed with a self-conscious fear and find ourselves pulling our dresses down about ten times a minute.
ii) Opt to suffer. Ashamed of our arms/legs/stomachs we pretty much stick to our winter uniform, choosing sweat over exposure. It’s still black and it still covers everything, with jeans and cardigans being the usual torture instrument.
Guys do you remember how long the summer went on for last year? It remained crazy hot right the way up to September. If the trend continues, we’ve got another three months of this and I cannot bear the thought of people suffering because of something as trivial as an exposed leg. Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT like getting my legs out. In fact, last summer was the first time that I ever really did. But I finally realised that nothing was worth the discomfort of battling 30 degrees in jeans.
(I’m not saying that you have to sell your soul to the marketing gods to find body positivity but just so you know, there were three things really helped me: fake tan, I use St Moriz, I did a piece about it HERE, wearing different types of skirts that weren’t all teeny tiny, piece about it HERE and I started epilating, surprise surprise, piece about it HERE).
Now, let me ask you this. When was the last time that you noticed a stranger’s legs?
Despite the fact I have probably seen over 1000 legs in London over the last week, I don’t think I could remember what a single one of them looked like, literally, not a one.
I know that in your own head getting your legs out is the biggest deal in the world, but I remise you, I promise you, that to everyone else it is nothing. Not just ‘not a big deal’, it’s literally nothing. Your legs are two out of fourteen billion legs in the whole wide world. Our being worried about them is about as necessary as a grain of sand worrying that it is one shade darker than the ones that surround it.
I PROMISE you, it will be okay.
So please, for me, don’t suffer through this summer drenched in self-consciousness. Eliminate your risk of passing out and get your legs out. They’re beautiful, you’re beautiful and after feeling a bit of a breeze between them, who knows, you might just start believing me…