The larger person's experience of summer

The weathers hot, the suns out, it’s barbecue season, you get to wear bright clothing and a little less of it: what’s not to like about summer? In fact, quite a lot!

If you are a larger person and uncomfortable with your bigger size, then summer can be horrible.  Everyone expects you to wear less and be bold and bright. When you’re overweight and unhappy, then that simply isn’t comfortable for you, and the last thing you want to do is stand out. So you wear more than you should, darker colours and, guess what, you sweat like you’ve been in a sauna for hours. This is on public transport, at work, when socialising... everywhere. This then makes you feel even more uncomfortable and stand out even more.

You may long for the days when you get to cover up, wear your layers, snuggle in the warmth of your home due to the autumn and winter cold. It’s dark then, so you don’t get to stand out too much, and that suits you just fine.

The thing is, the hiding away isn’t that comfortable either. I’m not going to preach to you to lose weight and tell you all the statistics that support how beneficial it is to you - chances are you already know this. I’m not going to tell you how to eat healthy - you already know this as well. There is a plethora of information out there that does this just fine. What there is a shortage of is people who are willing to talk to you about why you overeat, who will help you accept yourself regardless, as shame hasn’t helped many people make changes in their life - if anything, it encourages you to eat more.

What is often needed is someone who is there to support you to be comfortable with you, not to patronise you or tell you what you must do. When working with people to find ways to lose weight, helping them to accept themselves before they begin to do this can sometimes make the difference between long term healthy lifestyles and binge dieting/eating.

For some people, changing their eating habits is a process with a simple change then effect, for others who want to remain hidden, losing weight is more complex than this. Being overweight can make you visible but also has a sense of invisibility to it, which can be comforting for some people.

What might make a difference is to work with someone to make them more comfortable with being seen.

It’s not easy being overweight in today’s society, as there are a lot of mean people who, under the guise of being helpful, are happy to tell you their opinion on your body, and some people think being larger means that they can say whatever they want regardless of how it makes you feel. This would make anyone want to hide away, but summer isn’t just for slim people, and you have a right to be here, big or small.

So, rather than making you feel guilty, how about we work on acceptance first, and then see what happens next?

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

I am Marilyn McKenzie and I am a qualified psychotherapist who has worked with couples, addiction, DV, young offending, grief and bereavement as well as anxiety and depression.

I am integrative in my approach but often work systemically. I have a private practise and work with relate.… Read more

Written by Marilyn McKenzie BSc, PGDip, MBACP, Couple’s Counsellor

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