Summer us upon us (at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere) and the warmer temperatures (and the heatwaves) mean that everyone is wearing less. Fewer layers, fewer items of clothing, and lots of short-sleeved tops and shorts.
Not only do you want to avoid baking in the sun and in rooms that feel like ovens, but a lot of the summer trends and the clothing in the shops are very light and small. They don’t cover much.
Whatever your style sense, you’ve probably had an internal debate with yourself about whether to wear short shorts / skirts and vest tops. You’ve probably looked at any scars you have to assess how noticeable they are. Especially if they look pale against darker or tanning skin. (I say ‘short shorts’ because there are of course over-the-knee shorts available.)
I find that nobody minds that I wear long-sleeved tops 91% of the time. But sometimes friends ask ‘aren’t you hot?’ when they see you in long sleeves. It’s also common for friends to laugh at my pale legs when I finally put some shorts on – I don’t know why!
But if you’re worried about your scars being seen, by friends, family, or strangers, how you dress in the heat of the summer is no laughing matter.
I don’t find it easy to buy tops in the spring or summer. I make sure to buy new clothes in the autumn and winter. But I do find loads of T-shirts that I think look awesome, and I’m disappointed that the same designs are not available as long-sleeved.
So, wearing a T-shirt out around town this summer? Of course you can. Your past struggles are no cause for shame. Nor are your current struggles.
Some people are very, very comfortable in who they are and with their self-injury. Such people can feel comfortable with friends and stranger seeing bandaged wounds, and discussing self-injury at any time of day. Some people feel confident in changing the subject – diverting attention away from the bandage and redirecting the conversation.
If you’ve had good or bad experiences when explaining or redirecting, please share your thoughts in the comments below.
But if you don’t feel like explaining your bandage or your scars, and if you don’t feel like coping with occasionally noticing people looking at you, it’s also your right to cover up. Some days, you just want to get on with your day without having to think about self-injury every 63 minutes. Some days, having someone stare doesn’t bother you at all, some days, it does.
We are going to change society, we are going to make it easier for everyone to talk about mental health, emotional wellbeing, and self-injury. But you don’t have to give up your privacy every day. Choosing to cover your scars or not cover up is something you can do each day depending on the situations you expect to be in.
Walking on a beach is different to sitting in a crowded cafe. Meeting your best mates in the park is different to meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time. Cycling for the day is different to going to work, going for lunch, then the gym, and then night classes.
Each day is different, and can surprise you. Don’t exhaust yourself by trying to predict every interaction with people, but do whatever gives you the confidence to get to the end of the summer day in comfort. If that means wearing a halter top then go for it. If that means wearing a T-shirt but carrying a light cardigan or jacket with you, then go for it. If it means wearing long-sleeves and jeans, then go for it.
You can wear as much or as little as you like. You get to choose. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.
And when it’s sunny, whatever you’re wearing, remember to drink lots of fluids and think about how much time in the shade you need.
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