Summertime, and the Living is Not Easy

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice weather. I love the sun, and I love summertime. What I don’t love is the unrelenting heat. Summer is not a good time for me, clothing-wise. Summer means warm weather, and warm weather means that I can’t wear  the kinds of figure-disguising clothes I usually wear.

Summer means it’s too hot for layers. It’s too hot for binders (well, it’s too hot to wear them comfortably, anyway). It’s too hot for heavy pants and shorts. It’s too hot for thick, structured shirts that hide what can’t be bound away.

My current solution is to stay indoors when I can (unfortunately sacrificing opportunities to enjoy the glorious weather) and to play mind games with myself when I can’t (i.e. convince myself that what I wear doesn’t matter and doesn’t say anything about me). Or, alternately, to wear what I want and just deal with the heat somehow. Not exactly a particularly appealing array of choices, but that’s how it is.

Summer used to be a time of light, brightly colored clothing, lying out in the sun and getting a tan (frankly, I tan every time I so much as think of the sun, but there’s something special–albeit probably cancerous–about actually soaking up the warm rays). When I was little, we’d constantly be splashing around at the swimming hole or biking up to the local park, running through sprinklers in my back yard or playing with the slip ‘n’ slide. Now, well, now, I don’t. And perhaps it’s partly because I’ve outgrown such pastimes, but I know that it’s also because involves clothing I just don’t want to wear anymore.

It’s hard enough trying to maintain some sense of myself outside of the gender binary when I can wear whatever I want–boy clothes like a suit of armor, protecting me from the brunt of the force of people’s expectations of me as a woman. But when I don’t have that luxury–when I’m swimming with the family, and I’m wearing a bikini because that’s all I have in regard to swimwear, when it’s just too hot for the layers and binders and heavy shorts–I am left far more vulnerable to societal pressures to conform to the gender binary.

I know, intellectually, that the clothing doesn’t make the person: my clothing does not determine my gender. And yet, when what I’m wearing doesn’t match what I feel on the inside, it’s so much more difficult to remember that.

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